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How many guaranteed top rankings are you really getting?

Last Update: Friday, October 31, 2003.

In this article I show you why most guaranteed top ranking packages offered by search engine optimization companies aren't really what they're made out to be.

There are literally hundreds of search engine optimization companies online. They're all trying to everyone else with special offers and guarantees. My favorite gimmick has to be the guaranteed top rankings offer.

Have you seen search engine optimization companies guarantee top rankings in the following top search engines?

All The Web/FAST, AOL, AltaVista, Direct Hit, Excite, Google, HotBot, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN, Netscape, Open Directory Project, and Yahoo!

So, what's the catch? Aha! You know there must be one, right?

Well, let me explain.

  • Direct Hit is no longer a search engine on its own right. It's now part of Teoma. So, it's impossible to guarantee top rankings in Direct Hit.

  • HotBot (US) uses Direct Hit for the top 11 rankings. HotBot (UK) uses Inktomi results. But that's no good if you only want to target US customers.

  • AllTheWeb/FAST and Lycos use the same set of search results.

  • MSN's top search results are powered by LookSmart.

  • Excite is a metacrawler with pay per click engine results hidden within its search results. So, a search engine optimization company could easily get a top 10 ranking simply by bidding for it in FindWhat or Overture.

Many of the top search engines are powered by other search engines.

Therefore, if the search engine optimization company achieves a top ranking in one search engine, then they would almost certainly achieve a similar ranking in other search engines that are powered by the same search engine.

For example, Google powers Yahoo! (web page), AOL and Netscape.

So, if a search engine optimization company achieves a top ten ranking in Google, then you would expect to also get a top ten ranking in the search results it powers.

Another example is Inktomi powered search engines. Inktomi provides search results for MSN and HotBot (#12 onwards).

So a top ranking in one Inktomi powered search engine would almost always be duplicated across the other Inktomi powered search engines.

Note that it isn't always the case that a #1 ranking in one Inktomi powered search engine means you also get #1 rankings in all the other Inktomi powered search engines.

The search engines usually add some their own special filter to distinguish their search results from other Inktomi powered search engines.

Here is a table of where each of the top search engines get their search results from.


  • AllTheWeb is powered by FAST Search.

  • LookSmart = LookSmart Directory.

  • OPD = Open Directory Project, which is also know as Dmoz.

  • Yahoo! = Yahoo! Directory.
Main Results Paid Results Back-Up Results Web Directory
AllTheWeb AllTheWeb Overture - ODP
AltaVista AltaVista AltaVista - LookSmart
AOL Google Google - ODP
Ask Jeeves Ask Jeeves Google Teoma ODP
Excite AllTheWeb
Ask Jeeves
Google Google Google - ODP
HotBot Direct Hit Overture Inktomi ODP
IWon Google Overture - -
LookSmart LookSmart LookSmart Inktomi -
Lycos AllTheWeb Overture - ODP
MSN LookSmart Overture Inktomi LookSmart
Netscape Google Google - ODP
Overture - Overture Inktomi -
Teoma Teoma Google - -
Yahoo! Yahoo! Overture Google Yahoo!

Why is all of this important?
Well, before you sign up with a search engine optimization company, work out what the X number of guaranteed top rankings really means.

For example, a search engine optimization company could easily count a top ranking in Google, Yahoo! (Web pages), AOL and Netscape as four top rankings, when really it's only one.

So, don't be fooled into accepting four top rankings, when it's really only one.

Internet marketing expert.About The Author: Michael Wong is a respected internet marketing expert, and the author of a leading search engine optimization guide, numerous marketing tips, and reviews of marketing tools and ecommerce software.
Publishing Rights: You may republish this article in your web site, newsletter, or ebook, on the condition that you agree to leave the article, author's signature and photograph, and all links completely intact. Full instructions on how to copy and upload my photo to your server.

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