Search Engine Positioning

I am trying to gauge the effectiveness of “Search Engine Positioning” - which is where you try and implement certain keywords or other things in your site that search engines will pick up on and not only spit you out when you are searched for, but position you front and center.

While using a search engine (I am aware of the irony), it occured to me - the search engine’s themselves want you to pay for advertising, so they’re no help directly, and the search results are a ton of other people who offer consulting services and software that say they can do it - for a fee.

What I am looking for is some kind of impartial verification that “Search Engine Positioning” works at all and isn’t just internet snake oil, if it is feasible, and (without running astray of SDMB’s rules regarding commercial content) possibly can recommend me to people who would be helpful in my quest.

It does indeed work. This is also known as “search engine optimization” (SEO), and if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can do it yourself instead of paying someone else. There is some good information at Search Engine World and its accompanying forum. Hope this helps.

Search Engine Optimization is actually a product we offer to clients at my company. I’ve never had a client of my own do it, but I have seen the effectiveness of it for others. After doing the service, positioning on the search engines go up pretty considerably. I’d imagine it to be the same for anyone who actually goes forward with it (for any company). You basically get your webmaster to insert keyword metatags onto your site.
A good company (for their fee) should be able to give you a pretty detailed breakdown of how much you’ve improved on the positionings have improved. But basically, all they’re doing is telling you what keywords to use for that fee.

Would this still work with search engines like Google? I’m told that a sustantial part of the algorithm Google uses to rank pages is based on the number of other pages that link to a given page.

If that’s true, then putting those tags in your website wouldn’t (in my understanding) increase the number of links to your page… so would it really affect a Google ranking to any great extent?

Perhaps not. There is a lot more to SEO than inserting keywords on your pages, although that does play a part. With search engines like Google, links from other sites are increasingly important. So to improve your ranking, a goal of SEO is to get more links from other sites. This includes getting listed in directories like Yahoo and ODP, as well as smaller topic-specific directories. You can also go around to other web sites on the same topic and write their webmasters, saying “Hey, I like your site. If I link to your site from mine, would you be willing to do the same for me?”

You may think that’s a waste, since you’re helping somebody else improve their ranking at the same time, and you want to rank first. But if you exchange links like this with ten other sites, you have ten new links to your site, and all those other sites only have one new link each. So you still come out ahead.

Metatags hardly affect Google at all. Google’s PageRank algorithm relies particularly on linking. Google goes to particular efforts to combat the efforts of SEO companies that use illegitimate techniques like link farms, and they have banned from their indices some sites that have used such tactics. There are some perfectly legitimate ways to maximize your ranking, and some are listed on the site Tradnor linked to, under “Twenty-six steps to a successful aite with Google alone.”