I’ve had a couple of posts in the last week or so about the importance of SEO, and particularly Google and rankings on Google. So it seems like a good idea to point out this one on Small Business Trends: SEO–Just Snake Oil?

Blogger Janet Meiners Thaeler does a very good job following up on PC Magazine long-time guru/crank columnist John Dvorak, who posted that snake oil question in a recent column:

Dvorak says changing URLs for SEO is worthless because he tried it on his blog and his web traffic went DOWN. So do website addresses or URL structures matter? Yes–especially when you start out. Rather than having a long URL with no keywords, it’s ideal to have keywords included in the URL. It’s usually best to keep URLs as short as possible.

Janet does a great job tracking Dvorak’s problems and the response from search engine experts who disagree. I really like her conclusion:

Most of all realize that SEO isn’t snake oil, but it’s not a silver bullet either. It takes time–especially if your keywords are competitive or your competitors more entrenched. I’m always worried by clients who sign up and then cancel two months later because they haven’t seen mind-blowing results.

Search engines do not produce instant results. Pay-per-click or sponsored results in a search engine can have an almost immediate effect, but these can be expensive and, depending on the terms you use, very costly. With SEO, you make changes and those changes could take months to be updated in search results. Always remember that while good SEO will give you the best chances, it can’t “guarantee” top rankings, but with a good strategy and diligence it will definitely make a positive difference.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.