Master’s Manual for Search Engine Marketing

September 2, 2010

This is Part II of "Search Engine Folklore: Two Tales of Fact and Fiction".

Myths, legends and lies abound in the Land of Search Engine Marketing.
Some of these stories are true (FACTs), but many are false (FICTION). We've compiled the most common tales to help set the record straight.

With thrilling tales that will test your skills and knowledge, Master's Manual addresses the advanced topics of Search Engine Marketing, from programming considerations to social media. For more basic topics, read "Beginner's Verse".

Using social media outlets (such as YouTube for videos and Flickr for photos) will improve your rankings.

From a link networking perspective, videos or photos that are linked back to your website from high-ranking sites like YouTube and Flickr can benefit your rankings on search engines. However, unless your video or photo is really popular on these sites and ranks high for your keywords within the site search directories, your search engine rankings likely don't get more benefit than the link itself provides. Focus on developing excellent content on your website and securing incoming links from relevant, high-ranking websites. If YouTube and Flickr help you develop and publish your content, that's great. Don't just use them for ranking in search engines, though!

Your web host can affect your ranking results.

If your site loads very slowly, doesn't load at all or experiences down time, search engines will catch on and will not be likely to recommend your site to searchers. Consider this before hosting your site yourself, and look for a quality hosting solution that meets your technical requirements, including bandwidth, traffic, multimedia, server requests, etc.

Other websites' bad practices can affect your site ranking.

Hosting companies often host many websites on the same IP address - known as shared hosting package. If you share an IP address with a website that has been blacklisted by search engines, your site ranking could also be negatively affected. If you would like to keep control in your hands, consider asking your hosting company for a dedicated IP address.

How your site is programmed can affect your ranking results.

Different programming languages may or may not be search engine-friendly. For example, Flash content is generally heavy on images, and search engines rely heavily on text to understand the content on a web page. An alternative way to achieve movement and interest on a site is to use jQuery, which is a much more search engine-friendly language. This is just one example of how programming can affect how search engines view your site. Consider the goals of your site, and then look for alternative ways you can achieve those goals with the features and functionality.

Your content management system can affect your ranking.

Content management systems (CMS) come in many forms and levels of sophistication. They usually make it very easy for anyone to edit copy and change photos, but they may not provide the necessary accessibility to the code of your site to apply metatags (title, description and keywords) or they may not organize pages in your site so that search engines can easily understand the overall site structure. Page generators often create URLS that aren't search engine-friendly (see below). Consider whether you really need CMS, and if you do, choose one that has been recognized in the industry as SEO-friendly.

Your site will rank the same in San Antonio, Texas as it does in San Francisco, California.

Over the last couple of years, search engines have adjusted their ranking methods to account for the geographic location of the person searching (based on IP address) relative to the companies listed in the results. After all, it doesn't make sense for someone living in Seattle to search for a plumber and get results that include companies from Chicago. This helps local businesses, but can be a challenge to those doing business nationally and internationally. Your SEO company should consider different strategies to help your rankings depending on whether you are trying to rank locally, regionally, nationally or internationally. And keep an eye on your statistics to see where your traffic is coming from!

A new website or updated website can only improve your rankings.

If you are modifying your website, moving it to a new domain or building a new one, don't just forget about the old URLs. Search engines don't like things to move or change without explanation. If a search engine crawls a page and can't find it, this reflects poorly on the rest of the website because it tells the search engine that the site is poorly maintained and that other pages might likely be broken as well. If pages are removed or moved, use server-side 301 redirects to ensure that users and search engines are redirected to the right page.

Your site URL matters.

A site or page URL provides a short summary of the content on that page, so the more descriptive (and intelligible) it is, the better. So URLs such as will naturally rank better than

Submitting a sitemap to search engines can help your interior/secondary pages get indexed faster.

Search engines find your site by crawling the web, following links to your site from other websites and looking at site submissions that are sent in. Most Incoming links will be directed at the homepage of the site and don't provide a detailed picture of all the other pages on it. To index interior pages of a website, and to understand the hierarchy of information on a website, search engines rely on the navigation and/or other links within your site to point them there. To speed up the process, you can create and submit search-engine friendly sitemaps.

Creating duplicate versions of your site increases your odds of being found by search engines.

Search engines consider it to be shady or dishonest behavior to have duplicate content, known as "mirrored" or "cloned" content, in several places. Such behavior, intentional or not, can lead to your site being blacklisted by search engines. If you use several different domain names to promote your site, make sure you designate one as the primary and redirect the others to it using server-side 301 redirects, or create unique content on each site.

Seeking more basic information on search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click advertising? See the "Beginner's Verse for Search Engine Marketing" for a collection of stories that will enlighten you with answers to frequently asked questions.