Anyone who tells you, the cheque is in the post, they'll love you in the morning, or can make you number one on Google, is never to be trusted.

People forget that Google decides who gets to be ranked top on Google, and no- one else. So- called search engine optimisation experts (SEOs) at best get to second guess what Google is currently thinking.

I personally would be willing to embrace any dirty trick, unethical behaviour or other dubious and underhand technique an SEO suggested, if it gave lasting results.

However, at best, they will give a few fleeting moments at the top of the rankings before someone, usually the company you knocked off the top spot, reports you to Google, via their anti-spam page.

You may even find yourself blacklisted for your efforts. Which, if you can pull it off, is a good trick to play on your competitors!

The best strategy is simply to build a better website that people want to visit.

Google, and every other search engine for that matter, are tirelessly trying to work out which sites humans want to look at for a given search criteria. They then try and instil this knowledge into their search robots who rank your site.

It helps if you decide early on which words and phrases you want to be found with and build your site around them. But then this will just happen naturally, if you keep the main objectives of the site in view, while building it.

Ensuring that your site complies with the W3C and Bobby usability and accessibility standards will make it search engine friendly too. Make sure your site is built using something called "style sheets" and don't use Flash or some other technology that search engine robots can't understand.

One sure way to get Google to like you is to get links from other sites to yours. In-bound links, or IBLs as they are known, are like gold bars in the SEO world. If lots of other sites have links to yours, it must be worth visiting and Google spot this.

And for those of you thinking 'why don't I create hundreds of small sites with links to my main site?' don't bother. It's called "link farming" and Google wised up to this trick years ago. Like every other con, as soon as it started to work, every other SEO joined in, forcing Google to programme against it.

Fundamentally, SEO is an arms race that others need to loose, for you to win.

So remember. If a salesman uses the words "number one in Google" make sure they are followed with the words "or your money back" and qualify how long he intends to keep you there.

And above all, remember a well built site will naturally float to the top of the search engine rankings without the help of any SEO voodoo.

* Chris is managing director of Internet consultancy WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at