Solicitations arrive constantly in my mailbox offering to help move to the top of search engine results (where it so clearly belongs). It is easy to become confused about the world of online searches and advertising. If you’re brand new to the idea, let me give you the briefest of overviews, using Google as the example.

Google presents two kinds of search results.

There is paid advertising. Those are the links at the top or on the right side of a page of Google search results that say “Sponsored Links.”

You can easily have your web site appear in Google’s paid ad results. Google’s paid advertising program is named “AdWords.” Information is available here:

It is easy to understand and sign up – you don’t need help from a third party. It is also very, very easy for it to become frighteningly expensive. Consider it in the same way you would examine your options for Yellow Pages or radio ads – it deserves research and planning!

Under the paid ads are the search results that Google provides for free. Although there are services that claim to be able to influence those results, in reality it is virtually impossible to buy your way to the top of those results. Google’s page-ranking routines weigh many things but the most significant statistic is the number of links to your web site from other web sites. Your web site will rise in the rankings when you update it frequently and make it interesting enough that other web sites link to you.

Google has solid information about how to evaluate offers from “search engine optimizers,” and briefly discusses how to increase your web site’s ranking in Google.

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