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Special relationships with the search engines

For all the progress the search marketing industry has made over the years, one only needs to check their e-mail for a grim reality that there are those who still see the promise of mystical powers as a way to success.

Are you looking for that edge online? Something that your competitors don't have? Forget wasting all your energy on a great design and developing superior content--it's not what you know, but who you work with.

Sooner or later, most of us in the industry get an e-mail, either passed on by someone we know, through our own e-mail, or possibly through one of our own sites that offers to help us achieve success online. Most of these are fairly nondescript and rather generic.

Then the other day, I had one passed on to me that was more than just a couple of lines of loose promises. This one proclaimed: "I specialize in getting sites listed at the top of Google in organic listings."

And it went on, even specifying that, "After the first month, it is only $300 month." And apparently, "That's all there is to it."

OK, so this one actually perked my curiosity. I couldn't help but go check out the site.

I looked around for a bit and was almost ready to just mosey on by when, midway down on one page, it caught my eye, the claim of all claims, the one that I had heard rumors about, but until this day, had never actually come across in the wild: special relationships.

Could my eyes have deceived me? No, there it was, in the fine HTML print: "We have special relationships with the search engines."

OK, by now you must be on edge as to the power that these special relationships could possibly muster. And there, like a beacon in the night, "...indexed within 2 weeks..."

Wow. So 1990s.

For those of us in the industry, this brings both a chuckle and a sad realization that there are still people out there who will play into the desires and fears of Web site owners, offering some magical potion that will be their ticket to success.

OK, this one was particularly sad and amusing because of the two-week window. I mean, talk about working some miracles! Let's face it--it's 2008--in this day, you would almost have to work to not have a site (or even a fair amount of a site) be indexed within two weeks.

Sadly, this is one of those things that gives search engine optimization a bad name. Just because someone claims to perform SEO, doesn't mean that they can, nor should that then be a negative reflection on the industry.

Certainly there are those who, after working so long in the industry, have established connections with those at the search engines, as peers do in nearly every industry. This does not equate to special powers to get the engines to overlook offenses or to serve up rankings based on these relationships. And if it did, I have to imagine that it would cost a bit more than $300 a month.

For anyone who doubts this, Google itself has stated its view on the matter.

As for the provider of the services that I found so amusing, well, with several pages with identical title tags, I have to question their expertise in SEO. As for their relationship with Google, it appears that only their home page has any PageRank, and seeing that it is a PR1, they might want to renegotiate their special relationship as they are clearly getting the short end of the stick.