What do Some Search Engine Optimization “Experts” have in Common with the Middle Ages?
In the middle ages, meat was scarce, but puppies and kittens were not (already you should see where this is going). Some enterprising entrepreneurs determined that this provided them with an opportunity. Finding a stray cat or dog, they would place it in a sealed bag. Then they went into the marketplace selling the bag (also known as a “poke”), which they maintained, contained a suckling pig. A rare treat indeed. I would think that few people would actually buy the bag without checking inside, but apparently enough did that the scam, and the phrase that it gave rise to, have endured for hundreds of years.
Internet Marketing Success? Or a Pig in a Poke?
Now we say “he bought a pig in a poke” to refer to someone making an unwise purchase. Back then it meant that you bought a bag without checking the contents and ended up cheated. That poke looked like it had a pig in it, but, alas, it only had a puppy. Hmmm.
Not much has changed. I recently came across a website for a company maintaining that they are search engine optimization experts. They gave some pretty convincing evidence for their Internet marketing success. There was a whole page of their clients with a bunch of very impressive claims. For example, they claimed that one of their clients had 50 keywords listed on page one of Google.
Here are some examples of “page one” keywords this company had achieved for their client:
- beach villas rental big island
- four seasons home rental hawaii
- hualalai home rental big island
- four seasons home rentals hawaii
- hualalai home rentals big island
- hualalai beach home rental hawaii
- hualalai villa rentals big island
- hualalai beach home rentals hawaii
- hualalai beach villa rental hawaii
- hualalai villas rentals big island
- four seasons home rental big island
- four seasons vacation rental hawaii
- hualalai beach villa rentals hawaii
- hualalai beach villas rental hawaii
- hualalai vacation rental big island
- four seasons home rentals big island
That’s just a sampling. I did not check whether the keywords they listed really were on the first page of Google (that in itself is a pretty dubious claim, since Google results vary from region to region and even person to person).
However, I did check Google’s Keyword Planner to see how much traffic these keywords could perhaps generate for the lucky customer. Here are the average monthly searches on those keywords as reported by Google:
Page One Rankings, No Actual Traffic
|Keyword||Avg. monthly searches|
|beach villas rental big island||0|
|four seasons home rental hawaii||0|
|hualalai home rental big island||0|
|four seasons home rentals hawaii||0|
|hualalai home rentals big island||0|
|hualalai beach home rental hawaii||0|
|hualalai villa rentals big island||0|
|hualalai beach home rentals hawaii||0|
|hualalai beach villa rental hawaii||0|
|hualalai villas rentals big island||0|
|four seasons home rental big island||0|
|four seasons vacation rental hawaii||0|
|hualalai beach villa rentals hawaii||0|
|hualalai beach villas rental hawaii||0|
|hualalai vacation rental big island||0|
|four seasons home rentals big island||0|
In fact, of all 50 keywords that this company were ranking on page one for, what do you think the combined monthly search volume, as reported by Google, is?
If a Page One Ranking Falls in the Forest, and No One is Around…
If you guessed anything more than 0 you were overly optimistic. That’s right. 50 page one rankings and not a single search.
This company might call that a recommendation. I call it a “pig in a poke.”
The moral of the story is this: whether you’re investigating anyone else’s services, or even our own, ask whatever SEO Expert you consult (and yes, Virgina, some SEO experts are indeed, well, expert) not just about rankings, but more importantly, about estimated traffic that those rankings might bring you.
In other words, make sure you open the bag and see there really is a fat, suckling piglet inside that poke, and not just some scrawny alley cat. (This post was in no way meant to demean alley cats. We do not discriminate against animals just because they live in a poor neighborhood.)
If you want more information about how we might be able to assist you, please visit our contact page or call us at 702-836-3278.
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Ross Barefoot got his start in small business managing an importing company in the bicycle industry. While there, he tried his hand at programming to find more effective ways to track, market and sell his company’s range of bicycle parts. He loved the web marketing side of things so much he became a professional web developer in 2001, starting a website design business in Western Colorado. He took his first SEO certification course from the Search Engine Academy in 2002, followed it up with another in 2004, and decided to jump full time into SEO training and consulting in 2011, becoming a Master Certified Instructor with the Search Engine Academy, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Today, Ross is CTO, trainer and chief SEO strategist at Horizon Web Marketing (www.horizonwebmarketing.com), a full-service digital marketing agency based in Las Vegas.