I was shocked and surprised recently to learn that 90% of business owners polled by Forrester Research will include search engine optimization (SEO) in their 2012 marketing efforts.
My first reaction was, “Whoa! Really?”
Whenever I am approached by someone new about doing SEO work, I am regarded warily. My remarks are carefully scrutinized. Invariably, these questions are posed, “Do I offer a guarantee? How long will it take? How much will it cost and is a discount available?”
It dawned on me the other day. SEO vendors have become the used car salesmen of the internet. Nobody wants to deal with them, but everyone knows they have to at some point.
If you’re considering adding SEO to your marketing to-do list, here are the top 3 myths about SEO that may be erroneously guiding you. The tip that follows each may save you some “tire-kicking.” Following this article is a brief mini-glossary of terms covered(in italics).
Top 3 SEO Myths
1. I can do SEO once and it’s done. (Just like I did my website.)
This myth is, no doubt, perpetuated by the same folks who put up their websites in 2005 and have never looked back. Google’s number one mission is about delivering a quality user/customer experience. Your next website visitor is also Google’s customer. How will a website qualify for a ”top-three” spot on Google if Google does not see your website continually improved and updated?
Have you noticed how quickly the online landscape changes these days? Many people still are not aware that Google purchased YouTube several years ago. Naturally that purchase has impacted how videos come into search play online.
Google’s response to Facebook’s take on a great user experience has been their “Plus One” initiative, tested and launched in September of 2011. Google’s purchase of Android was their mobile response to Apple’s iPhone. In November of 2011, they launched “GoMo” to help ensure their Android mobile users (and all their customers) will have a great user experience.
Common sense: Way too many changes happen daily to assume that a one-time SEO fix will get the job done. So, if you have a limited marketing budget, is SEO really your best option? Would it make more sense to keep your current site updated with relevant content and/or make your site mobile friendly?
2. I need lots of keywords, lots of links, and I better have a guarantee from whomever I hire for SEO.
It’s been a year or two since keywords came into play in a major way in search parameters. ”Keyword” is still a valid term. Keywords are still used. Keywords are just one type of meta tags used in the source code of your webpages. They no longer figure very strongly in the search algorithms used in the major search engines.
There are differences of opinion on what meta tags, if any, do matter. Most recently, I’ve heard the “title tag” is given the most weight of the tags.
Common sense: Regardless of which meta tag is most impactful today, all of the other criteria combined far outweighs the significance of any one type of tag.
Another holdover from several years ago is links. First they were called reciprocal links, then called backlinks, and now we hear of the importance of on-page or internal links.
For more information, you can Google “Google’s Panda Update” and read up on how it is no longer the best idea to have a pageful of links, no matter how relevant, without accompanying descriptive text to validate relevance of the content to your reader, who, never forget, is also Google’s user.
Common sense: Regardless of which link type is most impactful, all of the other criteria combined far outweighs the significance of any one type of link.
Common sense: Unless your SEO provider has inside information on upcoming changes from major online players like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, and knows what your competitors are going to do next, how can you expect a valid guarantee of results in your online space?
What you should expect is reaching a realistic goal that you and your provider agree is possible. A goal is different than a guarantee. Goals are typically achieved by employing best practices.
3. I’m not getting traffic to my website ’cause I don’t get inquiries about my products and services. I need SEO to generate traffic.
We see the logic here. Realistically, though, more traffic does not always translate into more customers. Does your website have at least one major call to action? How effective is that call to action? Do you know what your current average monthly traffic statistics are? How much of that traffic is converted into customers currently?
How do you invite prospects to interact with you? Do you give multiple communication options? In other words, do you make it easy for prospects to connect with you?
Common sense: If you’re going to spend big bucks on SEO services, wouldn’t it be good to know how well your current website is converting prospects into customers FIRST?
And speaking of your customers, one quick way to increase sales by 20% and more – start sending a regular branded email or monthly ezine to them. Offer them a VIP first-look at your newest product, ask them for referrals, and thank them. Do it regularly and consistently and your bottom line will improve in like manner.
MINI SEO GLOSSARY
backlink: a link out on another website or other web property (like a link on a blog post or your Facebook fanpage), other than your website, that links back to your website to lend it authority and validate the content on your website
call to action: a common term that means to tell your reader/prospect/customer what you want them to do
converting prospects into customers: process of moving a possible customer into your sales pipeline to turn them, ultimately, into a paying customer
internal link: refers to a link within your webpage, website or web property that links to somewhere else within that same webpage, website or web property
make it easy: the act of making it as simple as possible for prospects to become customers and for customers to refer others to you; i.e., a “no-brainer”; what you want your website and all marketing efforts to do
meta tags: what a keyword is; other meta tags include title, description
on-page: refers to the landscape of text and content within your webpage or website
reciprocal links: links coming from other websites and web properties to your website that you should link to only if very relevant to your web visitors
relevant content: the text, tables, images, links and code that make up your website, giving and showing your visitors valuable information about your products and services; what Google likes to serve up to all its users/customers
search algorithms: the fancy math formulas that search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Firefox, and Chrome use to display pages and pages of search results to you
title tag: the meta tag that contains the title of your webpage
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