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The Myth of Getting to the Top of Google Searches

A Story From Close to Home

Warning: This is a LONG post. I originally shared it in a local Facebook group for the community where I live. I have made some edits to the post to make it appropriate for my blog.

My hopes are that it will provide some value for those that read it, particularly those that have local business in Battle Ground, and have websites. I wanted to share a bit about an experience my wife just had with a local business and the website for that business.

Again, my hope is that this will be of value to some of the members regarding websites, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and a little bit of marketing pointers. I’m sharing this because the business is getting “taken” and I have a problem with people taking advantage of others.

First, for transparency I want to share that although I created and manage the North County Community Food Bank’s website, I do not charge them for this and I do not have a business creating and managing websites. I’m not trying to sell anything to anyone in this post, and the links I share in this post are not affiliate links. Other pages and posts of my site do have affiliate links, but this one does not. The links in this post are provided for education and information.

My wife came home from doing one of those things women like to have regularly done and she said she was talking to the owner of the business… They were talking shop and about the website for the business. It came up in the conversation that the owner was paying someone $100 per month to get at the top of Google searches. This is an SEO (search engine optimization) concept, and for anyone who is in business with a web presence showing up in the top of a Google search is often desired.

This bit of information immediately raised a red flag for me. If anyone ever tells you they can get you to the top of a Google search and stay there you will do yourself a lot of good if you show that person to the door. There is no way for anyone to guarantee this, no matter how much money you pay them. Google has algorithms in place that are used to determine what shows up in a search and it highly frowns on people attempting to play the system to get to the top.

That being said I decided to take a look at the website in question to see exactly what this business was getting for its money. Within five minutes I was able to find the black hat technique the website creator was using to try and get this business to the top of a Google search.

Side note: Black hat techniques are frowned upon practices that some people use in programming or hacking that can get you in trouble if you are caught. In this case if Google comes across this website they would completely remove the site from being available in searches. The site would still be out there, it just wouldn’t be able to be found if someone searched for “the business in question” with a Google search.

So what did I find? On the business contact us page there was the normal stuff you would expect to see; address, phone number, email, etc. Everything looked normal on the outside, for the most part. I pulled the source up in the browser, something anyone can do with a browser. And in the source HTML (hypertext markup language), which is the language that is used to create web pages was a bunch of keyword spam.

What exactly is this keyword spam? I’m going to pull something out of my butt, and we’ll say this is a site for a store that sells high quality, custom made shirts that everyone and their mother would be glad to wear. Now the goal, for someone that doesn’t know better and is getting taken, is to try and show up at the top of a Google search. But, to do that you have to make sure your website has lots of the correct keywords. Most people who are doing this in a white hat fashion (this is the “good” way that is acceptable and won’t get you in trouble) they would simply make sure the keywords are part of the content on their site. The key words would show up naturally. In my T-shirt website example if I wanted to use the same black hat technique that the “real” website creator used I would take my contact page, or any page for that matter, and I would fill it (spam) with hundreds of key words that are in the code that aren’t seen by the average website visitor, but may be picked up by Google’s “spider” which crawls the web looking at websites so that those sites can be included in searches. You the visitor may see the normal stuff on a contact page such as, address, phone number, email address, etc, but what is really on that page is the stuff you can see:

address

phone number

email address

 And also a bunch of stuff that you can’t see because the website creator put all of the other words in the same font color as the website background. And those words, for my make believe t-shirt website, would be:

 

tshirt, custom tshirt, quality t-shirt, shirt, custom t-shirt, awesome shirts, funny shirts, gift, Christmas gift, Birthday Gift, sexy shirt, long sleeve shirt, the best shirt in the world, custom shirt, quality shirt, custom top, retro shirt, funny shirt, funny tshirt, funny t-shirt, and on and on and on.

Now, I want you all to imagine that I’ve taken all of that “keyword spam” and instead of using black for the font color I’ve used white for the font color… and poof, it magically disappears from being seen on my contact page where it has nothing at all to do with my contact information.

This is not what you want to do, and you certainly do not want to pay someone $100 month to put all of this crap into your website when they initially set it up and never touch it again. Not only is it wrong to begin with, charging you each and every month after that for something they aren’t going to touch again doesn’t sound like a very good use of your money.

Let’s shift gears a bit now and look at this idea of showing up at the top of a Google search. I’m going to use my t-shirt store example that is located in Battle Ground, Wa where I sell shirts to people who visit my store. I don’t sell online or ship shirts to anyone in the world, although that could be a business model. In this case, this is not my business model. The question I have to ask myself as a business owner with my storefront in Battle Ground, Wa is why do I need to be at the top of a Google Search that is going to be seen by the whole world? I highly doubt Pepe Le Pew, who happens to be visiting my site from his cottage in Southern France, is going to jump on a plane and fly to Portland, Or, rent a car, and drive to Battle Ground to visit my T-shirt business just to buy one of my awesome shirts. Although the shirts would be THAT GOOD!

So this whole getting to the top of a Google search may not really be what you want. And the way the website creator is using the key word spam in this case is doing exactly that. There is nothing in the spam to “localize” the keywords.

Time to share what little bit of online marketing that I know. The key to selling in a business or online is to reach out to the RIGHT people, at the RIGHT time, with the RIGHT product, that is going to SOLVE a problem or want or need for that person. Are people who are doing a search on Google for “Custom T-shirt” who happen to live all over the world the right people for my product? Heck no, it would have to be a damn good shirt to have people visit my store in Battle Ground from Australia. It’s not going to happen.

Here’s what I would do if someone wants to charge you to be at the top of Google’s searches. Tell the person to leave your establishment and not to ever come back. Take that $100 and use $80 of it to purchase targeted Google Adwords adds. Here’s a great youtube video by Eli the Computer guy on using Google Adwords for your local business.

Google Adwords was THE BEST advertising money he spent for his “local” company than anything else. Let me say that again. It was THE BEST and most effective advertising he spent. Again, I’m not an affiliate for Youtube or Eli the Computer Guy. I’m just sharing because the information in the video above is That Good. He explains how to have the right people who are looking for tshirts, who happen to live in or near Battle Ground, see my add for my tshirt store. Someone in Southern France looking for tshirts will not see my add. Get the beauty of this? By doing this you are advertising to the RIGHT people; those people who are going to be likely to visit your local store.

What about the other $20? If you ever listen to podcasts for entrepreneurs (I would recommend www.entrepreneuronfire.com or www.smartpassiveincome.com) you will almost always hear entrepreneurs say they wish they would have created a mail list sooner in their businesses. This goes for both online businesses and brick and mortar business. ALL businesses should create a mailing list. I would use that $20 and go get set up on www.aweber.com which is a service that you would use to get your website set up to collect email addresses and communicate with your audience. If you don’t want to do this I would really encourage you to reconsider. I know where you are coming from, I didn’t want to have a mailing list either. I don’t even have a real one for this website. What is here is NOT what you want and if I had any amount of traffic visiting that site I would be dumb not to be using aweber. My future sites that I will be starting in the near future will all be set up with aweber so that I can build an audience, who are interested in reading what I have to share, or watching the youtube videos that I do, and who, after getting to know me and learning they can trust me, will buy my products.

So, how would I build an email list for my tshirt store. When people visited my site after clicking on one of my Google Adwords links, or just finding me by doing an “organic search” for tshirt battle ground, wa, I would have a banner or section of my site that said something like “join my email list to keep up with all of my newest custom shirts, and I’ll email you a 25% off coupon you can use when you visit my store”. If you do this, and you regularly communicate with your audience with newsletters about your store, sharing quality information with them, and building a relationship with the when you do have something to share with them that you would like them to buy you can shoot them off an email with “Hey, I’ve got this new custom shirt. I’m selling it for $25 dollars, but if you print out this email and bring it to the store I’ll give you $5 off!”.

Again, anyone in business should have a mailing list. This is right up there with the Google Adwords as far as effectiveness. You might be thinking people don’t want to be on your mailing list. That is okay, for those that don’t want to be on it they can easily unsubscribe with your aweber service. Aweber takes care of it for you, and this is a good thing. They are NOT the right people. You only want to be selling your products to the RIGHT people. People who are not wanting to be on your list aren’t going to be interested in your products and you really do want to make it easy for them to get off your list. Those that stay are interested in your business, interested in you, and interested in your products.

To wrap this all up. Don’t pay someone $100 to get to the top of Google Searches. No one can guarantee that, and anything they are doing to try and achieve that is probably pretty shady. They are taking you for a ride. Create a quality website with keywords used naturally on the site. Don’t fill your site with “hidden” keyword spam. Use part of that money to get targeted advertising that people in and around Battle Ground, Wa will see when they do a search on Google, and use part of that money to purchase something like aweber, constact contact, or getresponse, to build an email list that you can send newsletters to. The key here is to use your email list to build a relationship with your customers, share valuable information with them, and once they trust you they will be willing to buy from you when you send them offers for your products.


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