The work of an SEO company used to be a lot easier in times past.
Common SEO tactics included:
- Purchasing links
- Keyword stuffing (remember your Keyword Tag?)
- Link networks
- Comment spamming
- Article directories
- Mass guest blogging
- Spun content
Spun content? Yup…the SEO consultant would use programs to replace words in an article in an effort to make three original articles for the price of one. He would then post those articles across dozens of article directories using automation tools. The “SEO expert” would go to bed and wake up with hundreds of new links.
Most of these articles were painful to read. They flowed as if the author was on a mixture of Vicodin and cough medicine. But they all contained links with keyword based anchor text. Most attempted to pass authority to a marketer driven site, often an affiliate site.
These strategies don’t work anymore. Google has a lot more spam signal data and is, frankly, just smarter. It’s hard to trick Google. Google owns Google Analytics, it’s heavily invested in mobile and social, it has Chrome and large data centers. And many PhDs.
Essentially, trying to “guest blog” your way to the top of Google for a “money term” is not a good way to go.
SEO Is A Mercurial Master
It’s difficult to rely on Google. Google giveth and Google taketh away.
All your traffic might come from organic traffic on Tuesday and, on Wednesday, it’s mysteriously gone. You’ve suffered an SEO penalty. You’ve met Panda, Penguin or some other digitally vicious animal.
It’s hard to rely on Google. Google giveth and Google taketh away.
- Thin content pages
- Links from bad neighborhoods
- Poorly constructed URLs
- Poorly written and duplicate content
You’ve lost your traffic and your revenue. You’re looking at laying off your team, possibly even laying off yourself.
In addition, an increase in organic search engine traffic that delivers visitors and sales can take months to realize. Basically, SEO is expensive using time and opportunity costs as metrics. You can spend a long time trying to scale the SEO mountain and yet see few results.
Almost as bad, you might optimize for the “wrong” terms. You could ended up ranking for phrases that are informational in nature. This will most likely drive few to no sales, no form conversions, and little user engagement.
You can spend a long time trying to scale the SEO mountain and yet see few results
Are you Relying Too Much On An SEO Company’s Work?
Look at your Source/Medium Report in Google Analytics. Is the resulting pie chart showing all your traffic from Organic? Then you have a problem.
Think about SEO – and all other marketing – as your retirement fund. You wouldn’t invest your entire retirement in one stock, would you? For example, imagine you put all your money in May Bell? Probably brilliant in the early 80s. Now? Not so much.
Or what if that stock was AOL or MCI? Bad news.
One stock – like one marketing tactic – means too much risk. It means potentially great returns. It also means potentially greater losses.
Same with SEO. All your traffic comes from Google? Not good. You need to consider a more holistic approach, one that incorporates multiple channels. And that’s why you want to….
Look For An Inbound Marketer Not An SEO Specialist
The moral of this search engine story? Don’t rely on an SEO company for your business, your traffic, your sales. SEO is nice. It can be hugely profitable. It can send loads of visitors to your site that convert. And it’s “free,” at least from the stand point of not having to pay per click and/or impression. But it’s an unreliable master.
Keywords, links, and content are all still important. And so is SEO.
So don’t hire an SEO company. Rather, hire an inbound marketer.
A good inbound marketer will look at SEO as a tactic, not an area of exclusive focus. A good inbound marketer will help you determine who to target through personas and develop a strategy to reach your “ideal customers” across multiple channels, from Search to Social. And a good inbound marketer won’t focus all your attention and accumulated risk on a single tactic.
Keywords, links, and content are all still important. And so is SEO. But it should serve as one component of a larger strategy that includes personas, social media, and engaging content assets.
Of Course, There Are Exclusions to the Rule
You might have raised a lot of cash. Or you just have a large customer base and a lot of overall resources. In that case, you might want an SEO specialist who can combine her discipline with those of other channels, like social media. Regardless, though, your entire marketing team shouldn’t consist of one person who spends her time trying to scale the search engine rankings.
Even if you don’t focus on SEO, though, you SHOULD perform an SEO audit of your site. Make sure you don’t have duplicate content and/or inadvertently blocked product and content pages from Google. Make sure you have well-written tags.
In addition, you should base your content – blogs, landing pages, product pages – on keywords. Use the Google Keyword Tool and assess the number searches for your money terms or key phrases. For example, the term “blue widgets” might get 1,000 searches a month. “Red widgets” might get 2,000 (reader note: I know very little about the search data behind widgets and even less about widgets in general). All things being equal, you might consider writing about red widgets rather than blue widgets. There’s more search engine upside.
Even if you don’t focus on SEO, though, you SHOULD perform an SEO audit of your site.
Just because SEO isn’t your primary focus doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to generate search engine traffic. So do your SEO audit and keyword research. Or find someone who can do it for you and work with your content and development teams to implement the recommendations.
The Main Takeaway
SEO is a tactic, not a complete marketing strategy.
Hire an inbound/content marketer, not an SEO company or SEO specialist. Incorporate SEO into your overall marketing plan. But don’t count on it to make your company a success.
If you have questions on SEO or inbound marketing, contact me