The unraveling of SEO as we know it (or don't)

The FCC announced recently that it will allow well funded (i.e, very rich) corporations to pay a premium and get “faster lanes” of internet traffic. In other words, their content will be delivered faster. This is the official death of what we know as “net neutrality” or “the idea that no provider of legal Internet content should face discrimination in providing offerings to consumers, and that users should have equal access to see any legal content they choose” (Daniel Rosenbaum, NY Times, April 23, 2014). “The ruling will radically shape how Internet content is delivered to consumers. For example, if a gaming company cannot afford the fast track to players, customers could lose interest and its product would fail”. For those who are well versed in search engine optimization (SEO), this trend is not surprising. What trend? The trend that requires a huge premium for organic search engine ranking, fast track lanes, and other variations that basically cut out the limited-budget small business owner.

Google’s algorithm changes in the past year continue to make SEO unattainable for companies who cannot afford an average monthly budget of three to seven thousand dollars. The complexity of page ranking as it relates to links and social media is quite expensive to maintain. SEO is a moving target and requires full-time focus using internal resources or or by hiring an outside agency.

With so much reliance on search results and now how fast content is delivered, what options are left for small businesses with limited skill-sets or budgets? There is good news however if you’re brave enough to recognize the above and tough enough to chase away anyone offering you number one ranking for three hundred dollars a month. What’s the secret? Make money the old fashioned way -- “earn it”.

Internet marketing is one aspect of what should be a well thought out marketing plan. Since SEO is out of reach for most small companies (not to mention beefy Adwords budgets that put the kibosh on any chance to win clicks), go back to basics, it is so much simpler that way and it will yield better results.

So simple anyone can do it:

  1. Define what business you're in and the differentiating value you provide
  2. Develop a concise brand. Poke holes in it and then make it perfect
  3. Identify your ideal clients and get to know them intimately - learn how they think and make decisions
  4. Find out where your ideal clients hang-out.
  5. Tell them who you are, why you understand them better than anyone else (remember intimately) and be clear and concise about the benefits and value of buying from you
  6. When they buy, nurture your connection - don’t give them any reason to search on Google for an alternative.

If you don't have the skill-set to do the above, hire someone. You’re better off investing in outsourced experienced than gambling your hard earned money on search results chance encounters.

***Note: What you read should have generated lots of emotions. If you're paying for SEO you may not like what you heard. If you’re making a living in the SEO space, you are going to disagree for obvious reasons. This is an opinion, observation and practical insight gained from working “the street” and coming across many disillusioned customers.

There is no absolute right or wrong answer. SEO has become highly technical and complex. Yet, there are many out there who will gladly parade a long list of satisfied customers to prove that SEO worked like magic and for only for a couple of of dollars. Don’t get me wrong - SEO works! But not for everyone. For every testimonial of a success story done on a very limited budget, there are thousands that did not have a good return on investment - SEO does not “fix” bad websites nor is it the easy way out of good old hard work when it comes to marketing and sales.

SEO is effective only when you’ve earned a legitimate, objective and valid right to be considered a “go-to-source” for information. “Results Ranking” is that legitimacy and now more than ever, it is about who else thinks you are a good site to refer people to and can that “incoming link” highly ranked itself? Don't shoot the messenger, do your homework. If you are spending money on SEO a simple ROI analysis will do:

  1. how much did you spend?
  2. Over what period of time?
  3. How many conversions ( new clients) did you get?
  4. If your revenue is greater than your expense, keep it up but keep measuring.

Remember, a minimum SEO spend for three to six months should be viewed as a front-end investment. This is your set-up and development period but make sure that you’re beginning to move in the right direction after three months. Needless to say these are general guidelines and outcomes greatly depend on your industry, clients and competition.