Top Ten SEO Myths of Law Marketing

1. Creating a web site means people will find it.
Think of a search engine like you would a phone book directory - with a twist. For $100 anyone can get a telephone business listing in their area. However, if you want to have a high visibility ad such as "MARBURY & MADISON: JUSTICE FOR ALL," you need to do something extra with your site. With phone book directories, you simply buy your way to the front. However, with search engines, you have to spend some time and effort to correctly optimize your website. Optimization does NOT include simply editing meta tags. That technique worked back when Clinton was president. Today, you must try other techniques.

2. Submitting my site to search engines is enough.
No it isn't. Sure, your web designer probably submitted your site to Google, Yahoo!, or MSN ... but where is it ranked? Are you in the critical top ten results or are you number 134 for "Florida lawyer"? In fact, if your website has been on the Internet for more than two or three years, most search engines have already included your website in their directory. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps to achieve high results and make sure your website is ranked in the top ten for your keyword phrases.

3. All search engines are equal.
The top three search engines are Google, Google, and Google. Either through their website or affiliated websites (Yahoo! and AOL), Google serves over 80% of ALL search engine results. Note that a distinction should be made between search engine portals and the database companies that provide search engine results. Some of the popular search engine portals and directories include MSN, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo!, AOL, Netscape, Hotbot, Lycos, Excite, etc. However, nearly all of these portals share search engine results provided through third parties that own the databases and search engine technology, such as Google, Open Directory, Inktomi, Overture, FAST, and Teoma. Search engine portals and directories mix and match databases to produce their own unique set of results. In any event, all of these secondary search engines total for the other 20% of results.

4. You can optimize for all search engines.
There is no holy grail. However, there is Google. Since Google serves nearly all of the search engine results, if you optimize for Google you will be essentially optimizing for nearly all of the results. Techniques that work well for Google generally will work well with other search engines, too. Note that the number of results served by Google will probably decrease in the near future, once Yahoo! begins using the Inktomi database of search engine results.

5. I don't need a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist.
I can grill a mean sirloin, but nothing beats the fresh taste of a 12-ounce Outback Special with a Bloomin' Onion. On your own you can probably achieve decent search engine results for a few keyword phrases. But remember: your competitors are trying to do the same thing, with many of the same words. An SEO specialist knows the little quirks and tricks that can make a big difference and give you the edge. If you pay them a one-time fee of $2500 to $5000 to correctly optimize your web site, and that optimization leads to a new client each month, is that not worth the price?

6. Quick fixes like jump pages, cloaking or hiding content will increase my rankings.
While unethical tactics do not hurt anyone like a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), search engines view these techniques just the same. Each search engine company has its own team of inspectors that regularly ban websites that use these spam techniques. Use these techniques at your own peril. They may help you in the short term, but eventually you will be caught and your site banned.

7. Software can automatically optimize my web site.
Can your cruise control on your Honda Accord drive you to Atlanta? You will need to hand code each page of your web site to achieve optimal results. You will need to edit the meta title tag, meta description tag, meta keyword tag, and include those same keyword phrases several times in the body text of that webpage.

8. Link popularity is key - at all costs.
We encourage clients to create reciprocal links with related companies; we do not recommend creating spam links to artificially boost your website's rating. Further, you should never link your site to spam sites, or sites that contain thousands of websites in a database.

9. A good SEO specialist will guarantee top three results.
No firm can do this - if they're honest. If an SEO firm guarantees a top listing, then they are trying to sell you advertising. Every search engine has a set number of listings and areas of the website page that they reserved for advertisers. If you want to buy advertising, then buy advertising. Simply visit Overture.com, Looksmart.com, or Google.com and sign up for their advertising programs. SEO entails editing your webpage code, text, and altering the design to achieve high rankings without the need for advertising.

10. I should submit my site to 1000+ Search Engines.
We're sure you've received an email claiming to submit your website to all search engines. However, can you even name 500 web sites off the top of your head, let alone 1,000 search engines? These companies simply register your website using an automated computer program. This does not achieve desired results and can actually hurt your website's ranking as the search engine may reject your listing as spam. Further, there's no need to submit your website to 1,000 plus search engines as almost all web traffic comes from a handful of search engines (80% from google.com).