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Old 08-26-2004   #1
St0n3y
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Achieving Search Engine Ranking "Success"

We've begun a discussion internally within our office about what constitutes a genuine level of search engine ranking success. For the purpose of the conversation here lets leave aside click-thru's and increased sales (obviously an important factor) and discuss rankings alone.

With the new Yahoo and upcoming MSN we have more than one dominant search engine, each with its own algorithm. Lets consider the top 5 (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask/Teoma). How difficult do you find it to achieve top rankings on all top 5 search engines? Certainly it CAN be done, but what is the liklihood that it will on more competitive phrases?

Do top rankings on Google/Aol overshadow rankings on the other three to the point that you don't need them? If a top ranking is achieved on Yahoo, MSN and Ask, is that enough to compare to a top ranking on Google? At what point can you tell the client "we have succeeded" (assuming that you even have to tell the client this)? Or is a top ranking on all 5 engines the only genuine level of excellence?

I'm interested in hearing what everybody uses as a success metric in this regard.
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Old 08-26-2004   #2
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"How difficult do you find it to achieve top rankings on all top 5 search engines?"

Depends on if you are trying to do it with one site or five (all unique, law abiding citizens), with four directing traffic to the fifth.

"Do top rankings on Google/Aol overshadow rankings on the other three to the point that you don't need them?"

Google definitely seems to drive more traffic, but Y and MSN seem to convert better across the board for me.

I would define search engine success as a lot of business coming in from the search engines. Total success would yes, probably be domination of the words that convert the best (and not neccessarily drive the most traffic) across all the engines. For me anyway
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Old 08-26-2004   #3
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It is more possible to rank across the board today more than it has ever been because all the current algos place too much weight on popularity. Sad really, because the best the engines can do is take on the persona of a kid in high school when evaluating quality.

"Oh that Jimmy he must be a great guy because everybody is always talking to him." Sad really, infamy can equal quality and authority today.

>level of excellence
It is all about making a living, nothing more. Right now it is possible to do that with Google, and Y, the rest is icing.
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Old 08-27-2004   #4
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Great replies. I would think this wouldn't bee too much of a difficult question to answer so I'm surprised by the lack of response from the fourm regulars. Is a measurement of success a topic that some are just afraid to touch? Is there any definitive measure? Should there be a definitive measure? Or is SEO just so hit and miss that making a definitive measure seems illogical.

Anybody wish to step up to the plate and expand this conversation with your wisdom and insight?
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Old 08-27-2004   #5
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>How difficult do you find it to achieve top rankings on all top 5 search engines? Certainly it CAN be done, but what is the liklihood that it will on more competitive phrases?<

There are a lot of people in this industry a lot smarter than I am, so I'm probably not the best one to answer this.

For me, we do it everytime BUT, it takes a lot of work, focus, resources and a "DO NOT ACCEPT DEFEAT", kind of attitude. It is labor intensive, research intensive and expensive. We target clients with the absolute most competitive keywords on the planet because they are the ones most likely to be able to afford to play the organic game.

We succeed not because it's easy or because we're smarter than any one else. We succeed because we are willing to keep working when others have given up. There are probably less than 100 people on the whole planet that really can get multiple placements on multiple engines for terms like online casino, home loans or life insurance. The ones I have had the good fortune of meeting and/or working with as well as the ones I have reverse engineered, the thing we all seem to have in common is
#1 We don't seem to waster a lot of time in spam debates
#2. we work very hard at it, spend a lot of money doing it and don't give up until we win.

>Do top rankings on Google/Aol overshadow rankings on the other three to the point that you don't need them? <

Absolutely not. EVERY hit that converts, regrdless of the referrer, is worth as much as any other referrer. You need them all. If you don't get them, that means your competitor did.

>At what point can you tell the client "we have succeeded"<

That one is different with every client. The first thing we do with every new client is determine objectives and strategies. We agree on the definiton of success and tell them when we hit the number.

That said, my attitude is that you are never "done". There is always more placements to be had on more engines for more keywords. At what point do you tell a client, "there, you have made enough money, now you can stop paying me"? There are always more keywords to target, more engines to hit and more services to sell.

>what everybody uses as a success metric in this regard.<

For me, the success metric is
did the client renew this month?

I admit though that I probably look at it differently than some of my peers. My basic philosophy is that no one can steal one of my clients. If a client cancels, it is for one reason and one reason only. I did not do the job he hired me to do. Maybe I didn't spend the time to fully understand what the client really wanted. Maybe he expected more than I offered and the problem was mis-communication. Bottom line, all the excuses in the world does not change the fact that if one of my clients hires you, you did not take that client. I lost him.

Last edited by massa : 08-27-2004 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 08-27-2004   #6
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when you wish upon a star...

I believe that it's only possible to achieve number one for all search engines if you are the indisputable authority on or proprietor of a particular keyword. One example would be "coca cola." Another could be "tomahawk missiles," but Jeeves messed me up by placing the #1 from the other 4 as #3...oh well you get the point.

I do agree with chrisnrae about other than Google performing better in terms of conversions...this seems like a strange phenomenon...

bottom line, unless you are the proprietor or worldly accpeted as the Number one source of info for a particular keyword/subject...it's nice to dream.

perhaps someone can show me a site that is number 1 for all engines for a particular commercial term? (I will prepare my printer for your source code )
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Old 08-27-2004   #7
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#1 ranking in top 5 SEs - it has been done

Chris, It has been done, my team has done it for the last three years. Here's proof. Search the top 5 SEs for moisture meter(s).
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Old 08-27-2004   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyberlead
Search the top 5 SEs for moisture meter(s).
I'm getting professionalequipment.com in Google as #1 and moisturemeterstore.com in Yahoo! Search as #1.

It doesn't add up cyberlead, or am I missing something?
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Old 08-27-2004   #9
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They are the same company, check the other SEs as well, and check meters plural
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Old 08-27-2004   #10
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I think that cyberlead is achieving putting a single company at number one on all engines, but by doing it with multiple sites - as I mentioned above, that seems to be easier than getting the same url to take the top positions on all engines, unless, as you said, they are all deemed *the* authority on said phrase .
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Old 08-27-2004   #11
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Oh, I thought we were talking about achieving #1 with the same domain in all engines, which is really the BIG challange.
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Old 08-27-2004   #12
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>Search the top 5 SEs for moisture meter(s).

My baby [OK 7 year old] could rank for that.

>perhaps someone can show me a site that is number 1 for all engines for a particular commercial term?

There are a lot out there, more than we could imagine. I've printed the source too but it hasn't helped

Maybe its mostly about external factors?
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Old 08-27-2004   #13
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LMAO, NFFC. Yea, it can be done for sure. But I think it is much easier to do with five sites - also leaves a bit more padding in case something happens to one.
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Old 08-27-2004   #14
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Oh really, show me one YOU have actually done, talk is cheap
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Old 08-27-2004   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nacho
Oh, I thought we were talking about achieving #1 with the same domain in all engines, which is really the BIG challange.
for something like "casino" or "online casino" sure that is a big challenge, but most terms are not all that challenging if you are willing to invest the time and money.
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Old 08-27-2004   #16
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I'm seeing a lot of good points raised. Sure #1 on all 5 CAN be done; no problem for not-so-competitive phrases. See 'chip processing equipment', 'metal chip processing', 'chip systems' to name a few. Lets talk about something a bit more difficult. Our primarily measure of difficulty is determined by looking at the authority level of competing sites, not just the number of searches returned.

SEO book says most terms are not that challenging should you invest the time and money... another excellent point. How many set their pricing to invest that kind of time and money into a project to acheive top 5 rankings accross the board for difficult phrases. And are the clients willing to invest that kind of time when most want to see results yesterday. Is it better to price for top rankings on a few engines or do you price for the big kahuna?

Obvioulsy there are so many variables in play, so lets assume you're competing against some strong authoritative sites, and you have a moderate pricing structure, where does success lie? I'm not saying you ever stop trying to improve a client's rankings, but at what point do you realize a level of success so that you can put less time, money and energy into client A so you can focus more time, money and energy on client B.

Or do you simply make sure your pricing is going to carry you full-steam, until you reach #1 accross the board?
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Old 08-30-2004   #17
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well black-hattery not withstanding,

first of all NFCC that did make me laugh, "my 7 yo could rank for that..."

One URL is definitely the topic, I could name a few companies with multiple URL's to target different SE's. Stony you bring up the heart of the matter...does someone have the money to target all SE's or not is the questions. Could it be done with one URL...I do think yes, perhaps its not a dream...if you have lots of "cake."
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Old 08-31-2004   #18
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So its just a money issue, then? Charge less, expect less? I guess another question is, can it be done with 100% "white hat" optimization. i.e. can results be producted accross the board while complying to ALL search engine rules.

I still don't see the original question being answered, what is a level of acceptable success? Could/should there be some kind of standard in place that is an acceptable guidline? Many SEOs offer a performance guarantee, obvioulsy that puts them in a place where a certain standard must be met, is there something that could work industry-wide?
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Old 09-01-2004   #19
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Uniformity or Anarchy

Quote:
Originally Posted by St0n3y
I still don't see the original question being answered, what is a level of acceptable success? Could/should there be some kind of standard in place that is an acceptable guideline? Many SEOs offer a performance guarantee, obviously that puts them in a place where a certain standard must be met, is there something that could work industry-wide?
Yes and we should all join SEMPO and make that happen! It is a very optimistic thought you have, but unfortunately I think that this industry is not yet mature enough to be able to make that happen. There is still a lot of "jostling for position" going-on I think, that is detracting from growth.

Also, this is a very dynamic industry, with changes being made everyday to the types of rules/algorythms we have to try and keep up-with. How long would it take to create laws that cannot be challenged? The U.S. Constitution itself still faces daily attempts to alter its guidelines...

Ethical standards, however, can be discussed and agreed-upon...but only in a formal setting such as that which SEMPO provides to us.
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Old 09-02-2004   #20
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Well, I say we leave SEMPO out of the conversation and simply disucss this as SEO professionals. Does anybody work of an internal measure of success? Can top rankings be achieved on the top 5 engines for a single URL without having to dedicate too much time and/or resources into that achievement. What is the balance between achievment and costs for the average, yet difficult, keyword search?
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