Is SEO Right for Your Company?
A lot of business owners have heard of the term SEO or search engine optimization, and have a vague understanding of what it is, but there are still those that think it’s voodoo magic.
They’re not really wrong.
Then, there is the camp that thinks SEO is too complicated and too expensive to use for their business.
At least some of those people are right.
So, how do you decide if SEO is a useful tool for marketing your business?
Our job is to help you weigh it out to decide what’s right for your business. Believe it or not, there are times when SEO isn’t the way to go.
What Is SEO?
You knew we had to start here because there are still people who have zero understanding of what SEO is. When we first started learning about it ourselves, there were SEO nerds out there who explained it like we were too dumb to understand it.
And, while there aren’t actually any chickens sacrificed to get rankings (except maybe some fried chickens….hmmm.), SEO is complex. We recently had a business owner who was trying to learn it himself while running his business. After diving into the deep end of the pool, he decided to hire us instead.
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of making your website so darn attractive to users and Google that you earn a spot on page one of the search results for a bunch of keyword searches.
See? That wasn’t so technical, right? No chickens were sacrificed while you read that paragraph.
Search engine optimization is a major marketing element that brings targeted traffic to your site. When people click on your site from the search results, they’ve been actively seeking exactly what you do and offer. That’s targeted traffic.
It’s like selling or renting roller skates at the rink. People that come there have at least a passing interest in skating if they’re not ready to roll.
The process of “optimizing” your website for SEO involves making many onsite changes beyond stuffing your pages with some common keywords. It involves factors such as the speed of your site, interactivity, content, and mobile compatibility.
In fact, Google likes to publish sleight of hand facts like, “there are over 200 elements in the Google Algorithm” when there are well over 400. Plus, there isn’t just one algorithm involved in bringing you search results. There are at least five. Google likes to keep SEO nerds guessing for a lot of reasons, but if you follow the money, Google makes most of their money off of Adwords campaigns. (Read more about how Google works)
But what is a successful SEO really? A good SEO professional can easily anticipate customers’ intent and can also help establish the type of content they want to see.
In addition, it also works as a sales channel and helps you understand your consumers’ habits.
A (Very) Brief History of SEO
Interestingly, the idea of SEO isn’t relatively new. Businesses have been reaping the benefits of this method since the Internet was a toddler.
Here’s is a brief history of how it all started:
- In 1994, search engines such as Yahoo, AltaVista, and Lycos were launched. In those days, web admins used to manually submit pages to add them to the directory of Yahoo.
- However, in 1996, two college students launched another search engine, Backrub. This platform used the popularity and relevance of inbound links to rank different pages. Backrub is now known as Google.
- Between 1996 and 1998, several search engines were launched.
- However, in 2000, Yahoo and Google got into a partnership, and the latter became a popular household name.
- Google launched its PageRank and web crawler algorithm and created an SEO revolution.
- In 2000, Google also came with a “Google Toolbar” feature, helping practitioners keep an eye on their PageRank score.
- In 2003, Google bought Blogger.com and launched AdSense to start a unique blogging revolution.
- During 2004, all top search engines made efforts to improve their results for queries. Simultaneously, Google began to launch features such as Maps Plus Box.
- In 2006, Google acquired YouTube and gave life to video SEO.
- In the late 2000s came the era of social media, and then finally, in 2011, Google became a mobile-first company.
- Since then, Google only grew, and with so many new features, it has helped SEO become a necessity for many businesses rather than a luxury.
Key Benefits of SEO
Below we have listed some quick benefits of SEO.
A website that ranks high on Google is usually considered trustworthy- whether it actually is or not, but Google does work hard to only rank sites that are credible. As a result, your site’s high-quality increases the credibility of the company running it.
If you want search engines and your audience to trust your company in a similar way, add authentic content to your web pages, work on the speed of your site and use keywords to achieve a high rank.
Increases Web Traffic
An effective SEO strategy engages your customers and brings quality web traffic to your website. That’s because when a customer types in their desire for a solution from the search engines, SEO ensures that it is your company that provides them the top results and fulfills their needs.
Google makes money by making you happy. The more they make you happy, the more you’ll use their search engine and the more they can charge for Adwords campaigns
When ranked on the first page of Google, you are visible to your consumers. And that’s what works for your business.
Provides Competitive Advantage
Implementing SEO as part of your marketing strategy is crucial if you want to achieve market share and outperform your competition. SEO gives you an edge over businesses that aren’t benefiting from this process and helps build and manage your reputation online.
Think about it this way- if a customer needs what you do, who are they going to reach first, your site on page one or your competitor on pages 2, 3, or 96?
DIY SEO Vs. Hiring An SEO Agency
Let’s be clear, SEO has come a long way from the days of simply adding a couple of keywords and jumping to page one. It has become fairly complex.
The many benefits of search engine optimization prove the need and acceptance in today’s business world. But should you go for a DIY approach or choose an agency to implement this method?
Here are a few factors that can help you decide:
We always say that SEO is like putting a 10,000 piece puzzle together. The company that puts the most pieces together wins a spot on page one, but here’s the catch- you don’t have an image on the box to go by. You’re putting the pieces together in the dark with no way of seeing what the image looks like.
So, how does an SEO nerd know what to do? Two ways- experience and results. Optimizing a website involves a lot of testing things out to see what moves the site up the ladder.
Plus, while there are places that teach SEO, Google changes the algorithm(s) thousands of times a year, so by the time you’d get a four-year degree in this, all your textbooks would be obsolete in one way or another if not completely. That’s why all good SEO nerds are self-taught and have a lot of results to show for their work. (Otherwise, they work somewhere else!)
If you are a new or small business, you might not have enough resources to create optimized content or web design. In that case, an SEO agency can be your savior and help accomplish all these tasks efficiently.
Search engine optimization requires ample time. If you have a separate team that can handle such tasks, you can implement SEO independently. However, if you want to do everything yourself, it won’t be a wise decision that you may make.
Instead of handling tasks on your own, an agency can curate a plan to further deal with all your problems and their solutions.
The right content is the soul of any SEO strategy. If you know your customers and their habits, you will find it easy to create content. But, without the right expertise, the risk of mishandling information also rises.
On the other hand, an SEO agency deals with content creation every day. They have the tools and the right strategies to create engaging and relevant content.
Many businesses do not hire agencies because they think they are too expensive. The fact is that the cost of SEO should be baked into the return on investment.
In other words, you have to consider what you’ll gain by ranking your website in order to fully understand the cost. Plus, you have to consider the ROI you’ll get by hiring a reputable SEO agency vs doing it yourself.
How To Pick An SEO Agency
If you have a good budget but not enough time or resources, an SEO agency can help you implement SEO successfully.
But you need to pick an agency that proves beneficial for you. Here are a few things you should consider:
- Don’t choose a firm that doesn’t have a strong portfolio. If a company can’t provide you with any data on its previous clients, it’s more of a scam than an authentic agency.
- Choose a firm with all the resources and expertise to meet your defined goals.
- Pick a company that believes in communication and is always ready to assist your business.
- Any agency that charges more or below the market or competitive rate is not worth your trust and time. If the rates seem too good to be true, they most definitely are.
Reasons That You Should Not Do SEO
While SEO is clearly a necessity for many businesses, there are definitely times when it’s just not a good idea to make the investment.
The most common reason we turn down requests for SEO is that their website isn’t ready. What do we mean? Well, Google wants to rank “good” sites, and while that may seem subjective, there are technical aspects of a website that can absolutely tank their SEO. When that happens, it’s like flying a house. Some things just aren’t meant to leave the ground.
Also, if the website sucks, we can drive all the traffic in the world to it, but the simple fact remains that as soon as people see the site and throw up in their mouth a little, they’re not going to do business with that company. This completely wastes the investment of search engine optimization.
When this happens, the client gets angry with the SEO firm, and the entire process is a lose-lose situation. That’s why good SEO nerds always check out the site before agreeing to take on the project.
Additionally, some businesses have either no process or a horrible process in place to manage the leads that SEO can bring in. That’s why it’s important to always consider what the company will do if optimizing the site actually works. How will the inbound leads be handled effectively? Learn how others have mismanaged their leads.
Over the years, we’ve been able to bring leads in by ranking the site and we’ve discovered a wide variety of ways companies have mismanaged their leads- everything from not answering the phone to administrative assistants who don’t pass the leads to the proper people.
A business that’s just getting started would probably be well-advised to launch their website and wait about 6 months to fully invest in SEO. Google tends to look at new sites with suspicion for that long. There are some things you can do in that time period such as work on your Google Business Profile and directory listings to get ready, but ongoing SEO on the site is probably not going to get great results while the site is still new.
Next, it’s important to think about the return on investment with SEO. The average monthly cost across the nation to rank your site is around $1000/month (for reputable SEO). If you have a product that sells for $25-$50, paying $1000/month to optimize your website puts you upside down. Unless you can make up pretty incredible volume or there are recurring customers built into what you do, SEO may not be a great way to market your business.
Reversely, in this example, if your average client pays $1000 or more, then all you need is for your website to bring in one customer a month to recoup your costs which is a no-brainer for most companies. If you want, you can ead more about how to determine the ROI of your digital marketing
Finally, some companies demand instant results and that’s not really how SEO works. It’s definitely a marathon more than a sprint. While there are some rare and wonderful cases where we can get page one results in a month, it usually takes several months or more to climb to the top of the search results. In that case, SEO might not serve them well.
If you want to see your business grow and enjoy a high ranking on Google, then it’s time to consider the implementation of SEO in your marketing strategy right away.
In case you can’t handle this method yourself, a digital marketing firm can help you accomplish this task within your set budget.