My company has only recently started to pay attention to SEO and online marketing in general. Given that we are an IT based firm (albeit small) and have been in business for going on 10 years, that ought to be a shock. It is to me. I think it’s because it wasn’t until recently that advertising was really given the importance that it is due. Regardless, as a result of our efforts our site is slowly moving up the search results for what we do. I want to point out that this progression is slow and that is expected, almost intentional. I mean sure, if we could see our site shoot up to #1 on Google and Bing through some legitimate means, I’m all for it. But the fact is there is no legitimate means to do that. And anyone who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil.

When we started working on promoting our site, one of the things we did was submit our business information to various local search engines. These indices are usually free to add your business information, allow you a little bit of extra free advertising and just generally help get your name out there. Like many things in presence building, it’s free and doesn’t hurt and ultimately it all adds up. Anyway, while we were hitting these sites, we also ended up hitting the radar of the advertising staff of a local major newspaper. We received a call probably two months after we had been revving up our presence building strategy and so had already been developing a plan for organic growth and seeing it to execution. Therefore, when the advertiser called they had their work cut out for them. What, after all, could they offer us that we weren’t already tackling?

Now, if I am already telling you this, then why even write the post? Well, like any sales job, the pitch prettied up what they offered. Phrases like “you’ll have the power of our 17 million pageviews” were used. To the layman, it might seem like you’d be getting a hell of a lot of a traffic. What local business wouldn’t want 17 million pageviews, all of them local? Sign me up! But of course, that wasn’t the point. What they were selling were basically a handful of links to your website, hosted on what amounts to a very deep page on their own site. There were a few additional things on offer including some print advertising and a Facebook fan page tab which they would administer on your behalf, but nothing really earth shattering. In essence, they were providing a metered number of backlinks to the website. Granted, those 17 million pageviews they get make their site very authoritative, so when they link to you, it helps. But then too, those links are deep within their site and the search engines know this. It can help the organic growth of your site (i.e. move you closer to the #1 spot for a plain old search as opposed to paid advertising and the like), but it’s not going to make your site go gangbusters.

And that’s the point. When I specifically brought this up, to his credit the salesperson said that absolutely, they were simply increasing the weight of the site. They were not able to promise a specific number of new hits or calls or jobs. Naturally, it was what they want you to be thinking when you sign the contract. But there is no silver bullet. There is no magical slingshot to vault you to the top of the search results. It is a slow process. And it’s all about building trust. Just like it takes time for a person to come to trust you, so to does it take time for search engines and the web in general to trust that you are authoritative on the subjects you write about. Just keep providing meaningful content, avoid the obvious errors and make an effort to let people know you exist. Eventually they will come. Or in the words of Matt Gemmell, “Good SEO is a by-product of not being a dick.”