I guess I do and don't understand search engines. They seem to be great when I'm looking for something, but from a small business standpoint, how can anyone hope to ever be in the "top ten" or even top 100 of any category when there are millions of sites on the Internet? Everyone seems to be competing for the same spot! So my question is, what's the use? Or am I missing something?
The only thing you're missing is the simple fact that in any race, someone has got to be the winner. The winner is usually the person who has the training, experience and skill to win. Yes, there are millions of web pages. Yes, there is a lot of competition. Yes, it is very difficult to get those top spots. Yes, people like myself CAN guarantee results.
If a placement specialist is honest, and if you read their guarantee carefully, it will not say that they will get you on top of every engine under every keyword all the time. It says something more along the lines of a minimum of two placements on two engines at any given time, and that alone is well worth the money. A top spot on Yahoo, Google, MSN or AltaVista alone could mean the difference between success and failure for your business.
Search engine placement is not that different than any other advertising medium. For example, there are a lot of television networks. And of course, running an ad on one of them does not capture EVERYONE. The idea is to capture enough customers to pay for the ads… and make a profit. Search engine placement is pretty much the same thing, or at least should be.
The biggest difference between the placement industry and traditional media is simply the nature of the Internet. There have been so many wild claims of "get rich fast," so many so-called "insider's secret reports" and so much Spam that they have given the industry a bad reputation. It is getting better but it has given the entire industry a black eye that is going to take a long time to overcome… and I believe that is what is making you question the validity of the whole process.
So, can I guarantee to get you on top of everything under every keyword all the time? Of course not. It's impossible. But can I guarantee to generate enough exposure for your website to give you a chance at being successful? YES!
There is nothing I do that you cannot do for yourself if… and only if… you're willing to spend the time and money that I have to learn what I have learned. What makes this a viable business is simply that it takes so much time and effort to get to the point I'm at. Consequently, many people see the value in hiring a professional to take this responsibility off of their shoulders, which frees up their time to do things like customer service and actually making the sale.
There is really nothing mysterious or magical about it. We all need customers coming to our front door. And just like with the TV ad scenario, you probably wouldn't want to spend the time and money buying video equipment, and learning how to use it. You would probably just hire someone that has that skill to do it for you. Search engine placement is the same deal.
So to answer your question: It has nothing to do with placing high on all the search engines, all of the time and under all of the keywords. (If so, then of course the competition will be fierce, as you say.) In reality, it has everything to do with placing well under certain keywords, on certain search engines, enough of the time in order to make a profit.