The National obsession afflicting small businesses everywhere
Give me an "S", give me and "E", give me an "O" - what do we want "S E O". Yes, this internet type virus is in the O.C.D family and is airborne and contagious. If you have a web site, you better be doing search-engine-optimization or, you may as well shutdown your business. Really people. Let's take a deep breath, exhale, and realize what the hype is about. I was speaking with one of my clients and asked about her web site. She mentioned that "it wasn't getting her new customers". But, (oh boy, get ready, here it comes...) she was approached by a company that guaranteed her a first-place ranking on Google. "Really", I said with a smile, "and how much might they be charging you for this miracle"?. "They said they could do it for a one-time fee of $700". So, before you jump up and tell me you have someone who can do it for $400, let me tell what I instructed her to do: "Wear your good shoes and when he comes back, ask the nice gentleman to turn and face the door...bend over... " and you can guess the rest.
These conversations take place everywhere and all of the time. The obsession with SEO is born out of ignorance, jealousy and unrealistic expectations of what the web can or can not do. Let's tackle this in order:
- Web marketing is just one aspect of your marketing strategy, not the magic bullet that will cure either a bad strategy or no strategy.
- Your web site should represent a 360 degree view of who you are, what you offer, why are you different etc. That is the primary focus of your web. A secondary benefit, if done right, is its ability to attract leads.
- SEO is actually very logical although Google's algorithms are continuously evolving and getting more and more sophisticated -- the future of SEO is about how close will the algorithm come to actual human thinking when we "search" (I dislike the term "artificial intelligence" because I have been accused of having it too many times).
Your web site must have "rich content" and "incoming links" from higher ranked sites in order to be optimized (a very simple explanation to a complicated process). In plain language, search engines will refer to your site if it has lots of legitimate information (not sales stuff) relating to the topic being searched. And, if other prominent web sites link back to you (example, a direct link from Microsoft), it is credentialing you as being reliable source of information (remember, not too long ago we used to refer to the web as the information highway) .
- To this very simplified explanation, you must add blogs, social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.), videos and additional components that make your site a "go-to" source for the search terms you are optimizing for -
- Can you do well with a good web site that does not rank high? You bet you can! Think about this: How many coveted spots are available on the first page of Google? Let's go with 5. Does that mean that 12,596 companies that are not on the first page are going out of business? Hardly.
- If you have a well defined marketing and sales strategy and effective execution, then most of your web traffic will be "directed" -- YOU, utilizing your marketing tools, will be directing prospects and customers to your own site, rather than rely on SEO or hope that Google doesn't get smarter or that your SEO company is really up on this "science".
- Having a web site is essential and critical for any business. I continuously review web sites for a living and consider a web site as your graduating diploma- where you able to take what you know about your company, your industry and your clients and present in a way that delivers value and good reasons to do business with you?
- A web site will not replace your marketing and sales. It is a reflection of how well you understand your own business and the market(s) and customers it serves.
- If you truly want to be ranked on the first page of Google, ask yourself: "Is my business ready for the avalanche of leads and customers"? Be careful of what you wish (or pay) for! Your business must run like a Swiss-clock to allow you to not only capture leads but convert them to customers and then retain them for life. Are you ready for SEO?