The Pantless Weasel is back, and just in time.

We’re getting ready to really peel back the layers of the onion of search engine optimization and long tail marketing here at Answer Guy Central, and Dilbert’s Scott Adams has decided to help, jumping on the SEO and social media issue, saying once again that people who claim to be experts at getting you good position in search engines are selling snake oil.

Scott, I love the way you express your cynicism. And you’re still wrong. Whether Internet Marketing experts are wearing pants or not and regardless of our relationship to weasels, what we do matters to everybody who doesn’t have the fame of a Scott Adams.

Of course, even if you accept that statement as “truth” it still leaves a few questions.

One day’s musings won’t suffice to cover the whole spectrum of what a great internet marketing company can do for you, so let’s cover a big pile by saying that whether you call it search engine optimization, social media, reputation management, or something else, this stuff matters. Almost everybody who’s looking for something and isn’t getting it through referral is searching for products and services on the Internet. If you aren’t found, you aren’t staying in business.

As a quick example, take a look at this link to a small residential cleaning services company. That company belongs to a buddy of mine who’s trying something new and operating on a shoestring budget. I created him a simple, one-page web site, registered him several web addresses, and crafted his page in such a way that just a couple of weeks in he’s ranking #1 in both Yahoo! and Bing’s search results for the phrase most important to his business—and starting to climb the charts at Google.

But his example is simper than most. His business is fiercely local and his company is named what he does. Most of us don’t have that luxury, and so the issues become more complicated, and convoluted.

For example, this morning I happened to come across this information while peeking at our own long-tail marketing search engine optimization results:

search engine optimization and long tail marketing position in click-through ratio

What that information shows is that over the course of a month Google registered several thousand search queries that led to one of the pages at Answer Guy Central being served up in search results, and several hundred for another. I use these two pages among the many pages of searchable content here at Answer Guy Central because the average position of their prominence in search queries leading to them was identical; Both the page on Verizon FIOS Quantum and the page on Being Naked on Chatroulette showed up, on average  in position #12 of Google’s results when people searched for them.

#12 isn’t really “high enough” for something critical to your business and we strive for—and attain—better rankings than these all the time. And frankly, I’m astonished that a search phrase that we averaged “only” #12 for still managed to get 15% of all people who searched on that phrase to click. But now the fun—and why you need to let this pantless weasel sniff around your web site—begins.

First, remember that you’re looking at the average position that this page showed up in. That average includes results arrived at through some meaningful search phrases and others that were less meaningful. So while searching for “chatroulette naked illegal” puts us squarely at #1, other searches that returned this page somewhere in Google’s results were far lower and so the average position dropped.

Second, these results are segmented. The 5,500 search results for the page on Verizon FIOS Quantum and the 600 for Chatroulette Nakedness are specifically results from people who were signed into Google and hooked into the fact that I was the author of the pages. This skews the results into a self-selecting sample, and is a great example of something I’ve said here a few times: statistics lie.

Third, and what I find most fascinating, is that despite the same average position for the two pages, and that position being no higher than page two in Google’s search results, the percentage of people who clicked through to Answer Guy Central was wildly different. Part of this is explained, again, by that “average isn’t the same as mean” thing, but the spread is pretty large. It’s a head scratcher, for sure.

The punchline is that we pantless weasels juggle a lot of information,and interpreting that information is a subjective art. The question for you isn’t whether you want to ignore the business change that getting Google to think you’re important is, but rather whether you have the time and expertise to do it yourself—or would rather hire a search engine optimization, social media, and reputation management expert.

You know what to do next, right?

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