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October 3, 2008
The Great Search Engine Marketing Scam

I am a professional search engine marketer. As such, I make it my job to investigate new tools and technologies that relate to the business of driving traffic to web sites via search engines. My company makes use of various tools to promote our clients’ web sites, and they provide great leverage on our time. We would have to charge much more for our services if we did not make use of certain programs.

But there is one trend in the marketing of a lot of search engine marketing tools that I find disturbing. The core message is generally that using [insert search engine marketing product] will give you top search engine rankings in a matter of days. The message is absolutely true.

The problem I have with the basic marketing message is that a very key part of the Internet marketing equation is being left out: that rankings for keywords that generate zero or little traffic are of little value. So the magnificent performance demonstrated by certain tools or certain Internet marketing experts is an illusion. You don’t need any special software to rank highly for a keyword with no competitors.


I am not at all saying that some tools are not worth using. Many of them are. But don’t expect to blast your web site with traffic overnight. The value in the tools is in getting wide distribution of content that results in the spread of your company’s brand and the creation of new links to your site. If you combine an aggressive, multi-pronged link building campaign with strong content and keyword-specific on-site optimization, you can be very successful with your search engine marketing. BUT NOT IF YOU SKIP THE KEYWORD RESEARCH PHASE.

What you need to do is pick a small set of keywords that receive a reasonable amount of traffic ("reasonable" being relative to your industry) and that are in a reasonable competitive situation. Avoid keywords that are rarely if ever used, and avoid keywords that have many millions of competitors. Success is found in the middle ground.

So the great search engine marketing scam isn’t that search engine marketing tools don’t work – the scam is the claims they make and how easy they make things seem. Don’t get the idea that it is going to be easy to drive a lot of traffic to your site. A typical campaign using these tools might look something like this:

1. Do keyword research.

2. Optimize web pages.

3. Write articles and other content.

4. Use tools to distribute articles and create social networking content.

5. Create videos.

6. Use tools to distribute videos.

7. Use social bookmarking tools to promote web pages.

8. Repeat the process on a regular basis.

If you try to promote your web site using content distribution on a wide scale without using automation tools, you will be limited in what you can get done. It just takes too long. You need to get as much leverage on your time as you can. When you write an article, you need to get it to as many article directories as you can. When you create a video, you need to get it to as many video sites as possible. That’s why you should use some search engine marketing tools.

I am not going to make any particular product recommendations, but if you are really going to be an aggressive, proactive online marketer, you need something to distribute articles, something to distribute videos, and something to add your listings to social bookmarking sites. There are some tools that integrate all of this functionality into a single package, and there are lots of tools that do one thing very well. It may take some experimentation to find what works best for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is still a good bit of work involved in distributing content with these tools. Articles don’t write themselves (unless you use PLR articles, which I high recommend against), videos don’t create themselves, and accounts at social networking sites don’t create themselves. If you don’t have time to properly configure and use search engine marketing tools, you are still better off leaving that work to professionals.

If you are looking to learn more about keyword research and the paid side of search engine marketing, check out my company’s brand new book Scientific Search Engine Marketing: Strategies for Maximizing Your Pay per Click Return on Investment, available on Amazon.com or at our web site via digital download. To learn more, visit http://workmedia.net/scientific-search-engine-marketing/.

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Jerry Work is president of Work Media LLC, a Nashville SEO firm that specializes in orchestrating Internet marketing campaigns that blend organic search, paid search and social media. He is also the author of "Be the Magnet," a new book on using social media and content distribution to promote websites. For more info, click here.

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