30 Jul 2019

Snake Oil and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Have you ever wondered where the term “snake oil” originally came from? In the late 19th century in the United States, there was a large influx of people from Asia, many of whom helped build the transcontinental railroad that connected the west coast with the eastern seaboard of the United States. These hard-working immigrants brought “snake oil” with them, which was harvested from the Chinese water snake found in Asia. This snake produced oil rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that when applied to aching joints had medicinal and healing properties. They shared this oil with their friends and neighbors in the U.S. who appreciated the legitimate help for their soreness.

An entrepreneur named Clark Stanley saw this as an opportunity to sell his own version of snake oil. He demonstrated harvesting his snake oil from boiling rattlesnakes, which did not contain the same medicinal properties as the Chinese water snake. Later, his product was found to be mostly mineral oil when the FDA seized a shipment. Consumers who had previously flooded in to buy his product realized that in the end it was just plain oil.


What does this have to do with Search Engine Optimization?

Similar to Clark Stanley, fast forward a century or two and we have seen the rise of companies and individuals selling internet related products that most consumers don’t really understand. These “products” might appear to be “snake oil” but if you aren’t keeping up with the trends, you might just be buying plain oil.


So what is SEO?

If you want to sell or promote your product or service to someone on the internet, you want it to be easily found in a search engine like Google or Bing. Search engine optimization (SEO) categorizes your content so that it shows up for your target audience. Basically, if you own a dry cleaning business and someone is searching for a dry cleaner, you want your name to show up at the top of the list in Google. How do you get to the top of the list? Follow these three simple steps.


1. Make One Google Account

A single corporate Gmail account acts as your way of managing all the Search Engine Optimization services you will be using. With this one Google Account, you have the ability to setup Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads. This gives you the opportunity to submit a website sitemap to search engines to let them know to index your site and “crawl” it for new content. So, instead of having to send your content to the search engine, Google and other search engines come to your website and take the content right off the page and categorize it.


2. Stay Up-to-Date on Changes to Search Engine Marketing

Google, as the world’s largest librarian, has set their algorithms differently to rank certain content higher than others. Their goal is to ensure users are finding the most valuable and relatable content. Therefore, you need to ensure your content has the value they are looking for. Google is watching all of the small things, image tags, meta tags, keywords, and descriptors. They aren’t only searching what is on your website, but what is coded in the back of the website to rank your page value. By staying in the loop of algorithm updates, and search engine marketing techniques, you will be able to flow with the wave and ensure your content remains relevant and searchable.


3. Build a Solid Foundation

You may have the prettiest website in your service category, but without solid content, will never get picked up in the search engine. Focus your efforts on building a solid foundation of content, high quality pictures, graphics and moving copy. By ensuring your virtual corporate profile is solid, this will allow the SEO tactics to fall into place. Good copy, leads to good leads.


In the end, there is no snake oil in search engine optimization.

There are just those who take short cuts and those who don’t. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between the real deal and the “Clark Stanleys”. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be fooled by cheap imitation, with a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of practice, you can ensure your business is staying on top of the trends.

We’re here to help. We believe in you. Let us tell your story.



Matt Visaggio is the founder and principal of Visaggio & Co. He is passionate about his work and loves seeing his clients succeed and grow.

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