Over the past few years, you may have heard reports that SEO (search engine optimization) was a dying or dead endeavor. With Google’s animal updates- Panda, Hummingbird, Penguin and its variants, both local and national businesses were getting penalized at minimum and sometimes de-ranked totally. SEO is not an exact science, and it often depends on how well your competitors are marketing in the same space. Given the uncertainty of what it takes to actually rank, many businesses went in search of other forms of lead generation, including paid advertising, direct outreach, and direct mail.
Multiple forms of effective lead generation are always good- and the more robust you can make your lead generation systems, the better. But do not believe that SEO is dead.
In fact, a recent article by Emarketer shows that web users trust organic search results the most- and this is climbing (up 1% from last year.)
This graphic (also from Emarketer) illustrates that online search is the most trusted method for acquiring business information:
With online search ranking so highly, and the fact that organic search results are trusted more than paid advertising, this suggests that SEO is not dead- and is, in fact, becoming more relevant and viable as time goes on.
The challenge for a small business owner is that SEO can be an uncertain proposition. There is a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding the process- lots of people want it, but nobody really understands it.
As I shared in my article on factors which impact your SEO, there are several areas you need to consider. The first is your own site focus and relevancy. You need to adopt the mindset of wanting to build an authoritative website- which means good content, regularly produced, which adds value to your target audience and addresses their needs.
You need to use a mix of media on your website, including images, graphics, videos, audios- so that you can engage your audience in their preferred style of consuming information.
You must focus on various on-site factors, including site structure and optimization, as these are the basic foundation- building blocks- upon which your entire SEO strategy rests.
You must know the ideas/concepts and terms visitors would use to seek out and purchase services like yours. You must know how to use these in your web content so as to serve both the visitor and the search engines.
In addition, you need then to build out a strong online community and presence by connecting with other industry influencers, building relationships, and promoting your content. This helps both your relevancy and status, and also can promote social sharing, which helps your search engine ranking.
As you can see, it’s a process that relies on several factors, interwoven together to create the whole.
The big problem with SEO, in my opinion, has been that businesses interested in SEO don’t realize that it’s actually a more complete and holistic business lead generation system then they think. For instance, when I take on a new SEO client, I actually WANT to know their business goals, what they are selling, how much they charge, and what they hope to generate in terms of new business- so I can help tailor our online marketing efforts to help them reach meaningful goals. This approach- where I focus on both generating leads- and helping to convert them- is the new way to do SEO.
This is what separates an expert and professional SEO company from one that is simply made up of technicians. And then, too, you get what you pay for. I’m not against being price conscious in your search for SEO services, but what I am against is hiring an SEO company who has no interest in or understanding of your underlying business plan and model.
Like any other lead generation technique, you get out what you put in- and investing in SEO when you have no understanding of what you want from it- nor what it can do for you- is not a good approach.
It’s also better to work with your SEO company as a partner to your success, because, at least in my case, I want for you the results you want for yourself. Investing in done for you search engine optimization services can be a meaningful commitment financially. If you are making that investment, it’s crucial to be as certain as you can that it will return for you as you like.
With the increasing trend towards more trust in online search results, there has never been a better time to invest in your company’s SEO efforts. Just, please, do this within a framework of a solid business approach and not just some scattershot link building.
My clients have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars from their successful SEO campaigns– even when SEO has been supposedly dead.
I’ll share some strategies for choosing the right SEO company in a future post.
And if you’d like to talk with me about improving your company’s SEO, please get in touch.