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Debunking Search Engine Optimization Snake Oil
Kate Gingold
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Debunking Search Engine Optimization Snake Oil

Know before you buy!

Not every “SEO Expert” is a snake oil salesman, but unfortunately, there are quite a few of them out there. Business owners need to realize that Search Engine Optimization is a process, not a magic cream to rub on your website for instant success.

You have no doubt received unsolicited email or phone messages promising success beyond your wildest dreams through SEO services. Before you sign up for a lengthy partnership, you should know how this all works.

Search Terms

Some search terms are highly competitive and that means it will take a lot of effort and money to occupy the top spot. Before you engage in that battle, crunch the numbers to be sure the Return On Investment it’s worth it. Remember, you are competing with the entire world for the same spot. 

Less common terms, often called “long-tail” terms, are also less competitive, so you might be able to win those top spots. Of course, the number of people searching for these less popular terms will be fewer, but it may be enough for your needs. As long as you understand exactly what the SEO company is proposing before you sign on, this could be a smart choice for you. 


If you have never done any Search Engine Optimization before, both you and your SEO company may have unreasonable expectations. When you start at the bottom, you have nowhere to go except up – and you will go up. But you can’t expect that dramatic rise to go on forever. Once you get the basics in place, you will plateau. You should still work toward and expect improvement, but it will be more modest. That said, if you stop working at your SEO, you will definitely see a slide in performance as your competition starts taking your place and shoves you the end of the line. 


SEO sales folk will show you charts predicting how your online marketing will spread, and the concept of viral marketing is sound, but what the ultimate result will be is difficult to guess even for companies with bigger budgets than yours. The surest way to go viral is by sharing bad news, but that’s an ROI you probably shouldn’t pursue!

Don’t think we are bad-mouthing Search Engine Optimization itself – just some of the underhanded sales we have witnessed. SEO is mandatory if you have a website and we offer several SEO packages ourselves. The tricky part is understanding how the process works so that you get what you think you’re paying for. Be sure to ask lots of questions and pay attention to your analytics reports so that you stay informed. And if you want to learn more about the SEO packages we offer, just give us a call to talk it over!

photo: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)

This article is an update to “5 Things SEO Experts Won’t Tell You” dated 2/3/2014. 



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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

Other posts by Kate Gingold
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Full biography

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.


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