STOP Writing for Search Engines

Back when I was starting out with my first internet venture, I did a crazy thing. I subscribed to a Search Engine Optimization newsletter. These guys send a weekly email with their bundle of latest tips. For the first few months, I actually followed what they said. Now, I just keep my subscription to get a few laughs.

You see, their basic advice hasn't changed a bit. It is still about keyword laden content, back links to your site, et cetera, et cetera. Of course, every time the search engines change their algorithm a bit, there is a huge new update on how best to beat this algorithm and remain on top. And you know what? Some of the things these guys say actually work! But here I am, telling you to stop writing for the search engines. I must be really crazy, right?

Not quite. Just like you and probably everybody else, I used to believe that getting the top position on a major search engine would make me rich. It would open floodgates of money, floodgates that I will never be able to close. And to be completely truthful, that is exactly what it did too. Well, actually they were the floodgates of bandwidth bill? but they were floodgates alright!

That is when I realized that I was making the biggest mistake a salesman could make in his lifetime. Instead of creating a website to sell to and satisfy my customers, I had created a traffic portal for the search engines. Unfortunately for me, search engines don't buy things that I want to sell. Rather, they want to sell their own advertisement around my content. After all, what content do Google and Yahoo produce? Zilch! They live of our content and yet, whatever we do, we have the search engines on the top of our head.

So I told myself, to hell with search engines. I will create a website that is for my customers. Sure, I will receive fewer customers, but then I was certain that the guy who is going to sift through the garbage a normal search engine throws up; to come to my site, will be really looking for something specific. And you know what? I will trade such a surfer for a thousand surfers that major websites receive on a daily basis.

And this is exactly what I did. I had two different websites competing for the same keyword. The first website was made just for the search engines (MSN in particular) and was ranked 1 on MSN, 5 on Yahoo and 3 on Google for that particular keyword. On an average day, it received anywhere between 5 to 6 thousand visitors. I made 3 to 5 sales daily from the website.

The second website, on the other hand, made an extensive use of images (I even used an image file for my headline because I didn't like the way various browsers treated text). The day Google indexed my website (Google is always the first to index my sites, god knows why!) I was placed 44th for the term. I received a lowly 40 visitors for my effort and made no sale. For a week, it continued to be so and then Google dropped my website for some reason or the other.

The website was again picked up a week later. This time, Google put it on the 38th position. I received 55 visitors a day for nearly a week and made two sales in the entire week. Now, it was time to push the website a bit. I made a nice little press release, wrote a couple of articles related to the product I was selling and sent them to various article databases and press release sites. A month later, Google had pushed me up to 18th on the search term. I currently rank 15th for that term and receive around 1500 visitors from various search engines for 6 average sales a day. My articles still bring me visitors, around 150 to 200 visitors a day for another couple of sales on an average.

Since that little experiment succeeded for me, I have stopped writing my sales copy to suit the search engines. Rather, I write my sales copy to sell. Even if one person comes to my website, I want him interested and ready to take out his credit card to buy from me. However, visitors are important. So I create content for search engines through articles about the product, press releases and blogs. The whole idea of each of these is to bring the visitor down to my sales site. In addition, once the PR of my site has reached a reasonable number, I start exchanging links with other similar websites. And frankly, that is the kind of search engine optimization you should be working for.

Since all articles must end with advice, here is my advice to you. Separate your sales page from the pages you create for search engines. Use large banners, innovative techniques to get your visitors from these pages to your sales page. Never, ever mix search engine optimization with your sales copy. Sure, for some people, it may reap awards. But for most of us, a page optimized for search engines almost never sells. On the other hand, a page made for the customers actually ends up getting a decent position in the search engines!

Pankaj Saini has just started a new internet publication called Learn and Do It to help fellow internet marketeers to make a better living online. For more of his articles, please visit, http://www.learnanddoit.com/

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