Busting More Myths About Keyword Search
The way things work online is very interesting. If I ask you to tell me the most widely-used operating systems in computers today, how would you answer? Windows? Mac OS? Linux? Unix? DOS? Of course, you probably wouldn’t answer with DOS. It’s a necessary shell, but no longer the interface.
If you were to google “operating system”, what do you think the result would be? Windows at the top spot? Nope. It’s Wikipedia. Wikipedia has a lengthy article about what an operating system is, how it came to be developed, what kind of brands are available, and so forth.
And the myth of SEO grows more mysterious. Why doesn’t Microsoft’s operating system appear in the number one spot? For that matter, why did it not appear on the first page of results? The answer comes down to branding. For Microsoft, they probably don’t figure they need embed a great number of “operating system” tags in their various websites’ pages because they have a widely recognized brand name, but God help you if you’re looking for a window repair guy on Main Street.
You see, search engines are code, and code runs on a machine; and that machine is stupid! What is smart is the way you can use a search engine, and the way you can enhance your rankings for localized search.
First, keep in mind that when a person runs a search, they are not searching the web at all. They are searching the cache (the memory banks, if you will) of the company’s computer that is hosting the search engine. If that search engine cache does not have a copy of your valuable website on it, then the user will not get any result.
If the cache does not know of your site, you have to make it aware it exists. You may do this manually, or you may let the search engine “crawl” the web for your website and its content. You see, the Googles and the Yahoos and the Bings of the world have these little sequences of code that continually go through all of the websites that are currently online, search for the keyword tags, the text, the links, the alt tags on pictures, and so forth. These algorithms store the information, and other algorithms rank the content by the popularity of a search term, by the number of pages of relevant content (more content means more visibility, obviously), whether the content is valid, and other factors, like location of your company, and so forth.
Once upon a time, and I wrote about this about a year ago, you could easily trick a search engine to ranking your site for a search term like Disney World. Today, unless you’re Disney World, search engine algorithms will find that particular snippet of content to be irrelevant, so you will not enjoy a ranking enhancement. It could actually hurt you, because today’s search engine algorithms, the various subroutines of code designed to filter the results for the user, will see that you have an irrelevant term on your site and crawl for more. The more irrelevant terms that are found, the lower your ranking will go.
Old tricks don’t work because the search engine programs are now much more sophisticated, but they are still just stupid code. Of course, unexpected results can happen. We encounter myriad bizarre results from new code arrangements. It is normal.
Tricking a search engine today may not, probably will not, work a few weeks or months hence. Be careful if some company tells you they have a way to fool a search engine. You are playing with long-term fire.
There’s no magic to SEO. Now that you know you are really searching the memory of a computer, that your site requires multiple, relevant keywords, alt tags, meta tags, links to other relevant content, inbound links (back links) from other sites with similar content, and an ever-expanding base of relevant material, you know how to get your site ranked.
Back to our example, the search for “operating system”. Microsoft does not come up because they are not likely to be concerned with selling an “operating system”. They are selling Windows®. (Do you like the fact we made sure to put the “®” in there?)
Apple, Linux, and Ubuntu did come up on the first page, but Wikipedia came up in the number-one slot, with a sub-directory list in the number-two slot, which features a list of operating systems. The search results were based almost entirely on content. They were not based upon keyword bids. And they are not based on some magic “website plugin” that ranks the site better.
It just does not work that way.