10 Dumb Approaches To Search Marketing

We’ve probably all done some of these things at some point in the past, but search marketers these days realise that the game is a lot harder than it used to be.

Here are ten strategies you may wish to avoid. At very least, don’t believe the hype :)

  1. Adjust Meta Tags, Call It SEO – Might be quite a lucrative endevour, especially if some clients are stupid enough to go for it. That doesn’t make it right. Or indicate that it works.
  2. Conditional Reciprocal Link Requests – “I’ve linked to you, please link back else I’ll delete the link in ten days” isn’t a threat, especially when it’s coming from the owner of a new, PR0 site advertising get-rich-quick schemes.
  3. Quality Content Is Everything – when your local jazz band complains that they’re not as well paid as Madonna, chances are they fail to understand that not all supply is in demand.
  4. Links Are Everything – Links are important, but not all links are important. See 2.
  5. PR Is Everything – While it might be a clever trick to create a massive PR buzz and be linked to from every A lister on the planet, if that trick doesn’t generate a real, measureable return, it is worthless. Pick battles worth winning.
  6. High Traffic Numbers Are Everything - The keyword “free” might generate a lot of traffic, but do people who use the term “free” buy much of your stuff? Think opportunity cost.
  7. Non-Competitive Terms Indicate The SEO Is Rubbish – Which keyword term is better? “Televisions” or “Sony Widescreen TV Overnight Delivery”. Depends. The second term may indicate the buyer is very close to closing a deal, while the first may indicate….well, almost anything.
  8. Buying Software X Will Get You To The Top Of The Search Engines – If that were so, why would anyone sell such a thing? It Software X was for sale, you couldn’t afford it.
  9. Only People With Big Budgets Do Well At PPC – The search engines don’t exist to make your marketing spend easy. Their systems are set-up to try and extract as much of your money as possible, without annoying you so much that you’ll stop feeding the beast. Target wisely and know your price points. Small budgets can still produce great results in the right hands.
  10. The Top 10 Secret Strategies For SEO – The people who really do know don’t tell.

What are some better approaches to take? Research. Implement. Test. Go with what works. If it continues to work, do more of it. Repeat. While a little dated in places, I still think “A Successful Site In 12 Months” (login required) remains one of the most succinct introductions to good SEO strategy available. And it’s free.

However, like anything worth having, SEM takes time, skill and effort. There are no top ten lists.


  1. CricketCricket12-05-2006

    You mean to tell me there are no short cuts? We actually have to work at it? ;)

  2. migmig12-05-2006

    Great post, Peter! Yet the #1… hmmm… the meta tags. This is a controversial matter. What Meta Tags do you mean? OK, while keywords are not so important, the description and the title, especially the title, do matter. Google has the tendency to include pages with the same title in its supplemental results. Here: http://www.shimonsandler.com/?p=44 is an interesting post about that.

    I also don’t really agree with #10. Why shouldn’t they tell? You list here amazing SEO gurus (Seth Godin one of them) and I read their blogs regularly. They do tell a lot. And you did too: Research. Implement. Test. Go with what works.

    A Successful Site In 12 Months… I have only one comment on that: “hm”.

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