Search Engine Optimization is treated like a magic trick by most businesses. They don’t understand exactly how it works, or even what it is, but they’ve heard that it fixes everything, and they want an SEO wizard to come in and make them the toast of the Internet overnight.
SEO Is a Process, Not a Trick
That’s a problem, because SEO is not a trick. It’s a definable process that takes a great deal of work and expertise to deliver results, but it will deliver results. How important the results are to the success of your business is dependent on other factors. For instance, a Chicago SEO company like Gotch SEO doing work for a local pizza business will do stuff much differently then a California company working for the same business.
Few managers understand fully that while SEO has important technical aspects, it is at its heart a marketing approach. Businessmen have always poorly understood the differences between sales and marketing, mostly because they overlap a great deal, and adding SEO to the mix can make the distinctions impenetrable. To understand how important SEO is to a business, you have to understand what it’s for.
Google Now Take the Place of a Trusted Friend
Try an experiment. Ask a trusted friend for the name of a plumber. They’ll probably be able to come up with the name of the last person they called when the toilet was clogged. Now ask them for another name. Perhaps they’ll remember the guy they called before the last one, but can’t quite remember the name in full. Now ask for another, and then another, and then another. Even someone with the worst plumbing problems in the world will run out of names pretty quick, and start searching for names, any names they can recall.
Now ask yourself: Which one of these plumbers would you hire? The answer, always, is the first one your friend mentioned. That’s the way personal recommendations work, and that’s the way Google search ranking works. It’s human nature to assume that people at the top of a ranked list are better than the people listed below them. If you don’t understand this simple principle you’re never going to understand SEO. By optimizing the information you put on the Internet where search engines and customers are looking for it, you’re improving your reputation and visibility in the marketplace. That’s marketing.
SEO is a technical exercise to improve your marketing, so that you can attract potential customers so that you can begin to convert them into actual customers. To further prove that great SEO starts with a marketing strategy, let’s go back to your friend’s list of plumbers. What if you called them on the phone, and they said they were electricians? Would you still hire them to fix your toilet? I doubt it.
SEO Is a Howitzer. Learn to Aim It
That’s why you should consider SEO a cannon. It can get you big results, but only if you point it at the right target. Proper SEO strategy involves looking in the right place for the right people, or more precisely, being in the right place when the right people come looking for you. If you look at SEO as if it’s a one-size-fits-all smock that anyone can buy off the rack and wear, you can waste a lot of money and effort attracting the attention of people that aren’t really interested in what you have to offer, while you remain invisible to potential customers.
Real estate agents tout the importance of Location, Location, Location when they’re dealing with prospective buyers and sellers. The beauty of the Internet is that by using wise SEO strategies linked to sound marketing approaches, you can elbow your way into prime Internet real estate without spending a ton of money. While the playing field between huge companies and one-man shops isn’t exactly level, it’s much easier for small businesses to compete than by using competing advertising efforts that cost a lot and return results that aren’t always quantifiable. I know a Pittsburgh search engine optimization company that even innovated enough to make a post on Reddit for a company and increased there traffic by over 300%.
SEO Tells You If It Works
If you spend a million dollars on a television ad, you’re mostly unable to determine if it gave you a million dollars of benefit in return. That’s not the case with SEO efforts. Websites can collect reams of data about your visitors, and it’s easy and productive to match your SEO strategy with the metrics you have available in real time. SEO is an essential tool to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy and your ability to convert visitors into customers, and it’s the only one that gives you hard evidence of its return on investment. Ignore it at your peril.