Don’t think SEO is right for you? Make sure you’re asking the right questions.
Search Engine Optimization has been going head-to-head with search engines for more than a decade. SEO even gained a reputation for trying to “game the system” – finding holes and exploiting them – all while ignoring the user on the other end.
This completely went against the main goal of search engines that strive to create the best experience for their users. In order to provide the highest quality and most relevant results, search engines needed to combat advances made by spammy and negative SEO efforts that allowed irrelevant pages to float to the top of search results.
Because of this, keywords became something of an obsession for SEO as it was the easiest, most tangible evidence of how your website was being found. Even now, SEO can still get caught in the weeds of keyword rankings and the number of website visitors. The reality is, while both are fairly easy to quantify, they are not viable results of a quality digital campaign. What these metrics do provide, however, is the beginning of a very interesting story.
Here’s the bottom line: SEO needs to stop fighting search engines and start catering to users in order to build real relationships with current and potential customers online. As search engines evolve and new online platforms emerge, it is crucial that SEO strategies evolve with them.
Here are some questions you should be asking before you begin any Search Engine Optimization campaign:
1. What are the goals? SEO should be treated just like any other marketing initiative where the goals truly support key business objectives. This means that SEO should be able to have a positive impact on revenue, product / service sales, number of new clients / customers, etc., which brings me to…
2. How is it measured? Keywords and website traffic are indicators of campaign progress and growth, not results. If a keyword begins to rank on the first page of Google, that is great! But that shouldn’t be where the story ends. Your SEO company has to be able to answer these key questions: Who is the audience and how is this keyword targeting them? What are these visitors doing once they land on your website? What is the ideal visitor flow and buying process? What does a website conversion look like? How else can we get in front of the target audience?
3. What tactics will be used to achieve these goals? SEO is one of the more difficult marketing initiatives to define because every company has such unique needs. Website optimization (for visitors and search engines) is always key to setting the foundation for SEO, but what are other online and offline tactics that can be done to get in front of your audience that will directly or indirectly boost your ranking in search engines? This is a deeper strategy that can only be appropriately planned and implemented following in-depth industry and competitor research.
4. How long until I can expect results? If you are promised instantaneous results, you should probably walk away. Now here is where I should be honest: it is possible. There are shady companies that will buy followers and build fake backlinks that will have instant, yet temporary, results. These results are much like that rocket you built in your garage as a kid – it was awesome to watch it shoot through the air until it burned out and came crashing down (likely starting a fire in your neighbor’s yard – and you had no one to blame but yourself.) Besides, who wants fake followers and backlinks without a real person on the other end to engage with? It’s like buying friends. You just shouldn’t do it. Results take time because you are building relationships with potential customers, and they should always go back to your main business goals and objectives (see #1).
If you (or your SEO agency) can answer the above questions, tracking and optimizing your online presence and engagement will be so much more valuable than knowing what keywords are on the first page of Google.
By putting the user first, in what used to be an aggressive relationship between search engines and SEO, we are finally going back to our roots of providing high quality service and building relationships with current and potential customers that you know will last.
Tune in next week for The Transformation of SEO: Part II, an in-depth look at our new approach to optimizing your online presence.