Before You Fire Your Search Engine Optimizer…
Time… Money… If you’re like most business owners nowadays, you don’t have enough of either to go around. It’s understandable, therefore, when you stare in shock or laugh when someone offers to perform this snake-oil service called search engine optimization. It’s even more understandable when they tell you that the practice fondly referred to as “that SEO B.S.” takes time, money or a lot of both.
The savvy business owner is going to look at that person and ask one question. “What’s in it for me?” When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, you want to know:
Why do I need SEO?
In other words, what’s so special about this stuff that I should spend my time and money on it? Well, hold on to your seats, dear readers. I’m going to tell you something you may never have heard from an optimizer before: You don’t.
That’s right; you don’t need it – IF you fall under specific guidelines:
- IF you don’t depend on the Internet for clients/customers
- IF you have low/no online competition
- IF you only need one or two clients a month and your current website copy is conversion heaven
- IF you’re a prolific, well-written writer who can push out tons of high-quality, enjoyable articles
You don’t need SEO – but you may want to hold on for a minute before you fire your optimizer and delete all your SEO blog bookmarks, because you might WANT SEO.
At this point, if I still have your attention, you might be asking the next question:
Why do I want SEO?
Any marketer you ask will tell you that one of the keys to selling is making the prospect want the product/service. Well, I’m not a marketer, but I’ll give it a try.
You want SEO:
- BECAUSE you have a business website
- BECAUSE you depend on your website for new clients/customers
- BECAUSE your website traffic is bringing in no/low traffic
- BECAUSE you can’t find your website on the search engines unless you search for “yoursite.com”
In other words, you need to attract search engines (SEs) so people can find you when they search for a product/service you sell. You need people to find you so you can get on with the business of selling and making money. -And that’s why you want, and need, SEO.
“Okay,” the smart business owner says, “but there’s all this information on the Net about how to do it yourself.” Then you ask the big question:
Why should I pay for SEO?
Excellent question. The answer is you don’t have to. However… if you’ve decided you want/need SEO for your website, then it comes down to a choice. Time or money.
I love optimization and everything that goes into it. It’s a huge puzzle of words, numbers, marketing and psychiatry; if you figure the puzzle out, you unlock a mystical portal to the world of success. However, I understand that not everyone feels this way – and that some people still don’t even know what “that Google thing” is. I try not to judge.
For you, however, you have to figure out which, or how much of both, you can afford to spend.
Time is a big factor in SEO. Not only does it take time to create a successful SEO campaign, but it also takes time to implement said campaign. Below are just a few of the things you’ll spend time doing:
- Keyword research and analysis – You may already know your target market, but do you know what terms they’re using to search for the products/services you sell?
- Writing your website content – Content is King, and that’s true even if you don’t use SEO.
- Tracking traffic and keyword reach – Is your campaign going anywhere? Did you use the right keywords? Are you receiving any traffic from keywords you didn’t consider?
- SE Research – Even a long-time optimizer has to keep up with current events, and Internet Technology is as current as it gets. About the time you get something figured out, tweak the website and start to see results, the SEs change the rules.
So how much time is it really? The average starting campaign should be no less than six months; ideally, it should be at least a year. Now, it’s not constant work, but it is consistent work.
The first month should, ideally, be spent on nothing but creating the campaign. The key words and phrases you use are such an integral part of your campaign; keyword research should not be a hasty endeavor. Take your time; research thoroughly before using them to define how your traffic reaches you.
Once you have a strong plan you can begin setting things in motion, and it all starts with the website. If you know website code, you need to spend the next week optimizing your code, and then however long it takes you to tweak/rewrite/write your website content. If you don’t know coding, you need to spend some time researching how to code… and then optimize your site after you figure it out.
Many people will argue with me and say that you don’t have to have an optimized website to reach high in the search engines. I say, maybe so maybe not, but it does help, and why wouldn’t you do something that you knew would strengthen your chances of success? Just as a psychiatrist might say that you have to find the root of an issue, I’m going to tell you that your website is the foundation – the root, if you will – for getting traffic. It’s up to you how strong that foundation is.
Now, if your website is optimized, you’re ready to go. You can start implementing the rest of your SEO campaign. Generally, the upkeep on a strong campaign should take at least three hours a day – not a week, a day -, and that doesn’t count the research.
Within one month, you should be able to pull your site up for low competition terms and specific geo-targeted terms(1). Within three months, you should be ranking for at least a few mid-competitive terms. By six months, depending on the demand for your product(2), your traffic should at least rise by 50%.
- Specific geo-targeted terms – city, state, keyword
- For instance, if you sell banana-skin shoes, you might see a rise in traffic, but only because people can’t believe they’re real.
This is a loose time line, but it should be quickly realized that SEO is not immediate gratification and ROI. Nor is it something you can do once and never again; you can’t set it into motion and then let it go on its own. It takes dedication. It takes commitment to the cause. It takes time.
- If you need/want SEO
- If you don’t have the time to spend
- If you tried to the DIY approach and nothing worked
You need to spend the money.
SEO isn’t cheap and it isn’t short term, so it’s understandable for any businessperson to go, “oh, hey now…” The problem is, except for a very few wonderful, odd people, optimizers aren’t going to do their work without pay. It’s what we do for a living, after all. In fact, the business world has a formula to express that thought:
Time x Knowledge = Money
Since you don’t have the time, you’ll need to pay someone who does. The benefit is that you get their expertise as well.
So how much does it really cost? Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer to the cost. The average starting SEO campaign varies, and it varies widely. I’ve seen anywhere from $50 to $50,000 a month. Before you invest your money, whether the cost is $50 or $600, research the company.
- How long have they been around?
- Are they known by their industry peers?
- Do they have a positive reputation?
- What is included in the SEO package you’re considering?
- Do they have proven results?
- Will you receive monthly updates and reports (and will they explain the reports if you ask)?
- Do they offer, or can they make available, itemized time sheets and billing statements?
- Do they outsource any of the work, and if so, which?
- Do they have a website coder in-house or will you need to hire one?
- Are their writers native speakers of your market’s language?
- Will I have a dedicated person/team(3)?
(3)In this case, “dedicated” means the same person or people working on your project. This does not mean they are only working on your project.
Although I don’t often say things like, “If a company does this, run”, I’ll put one down here. If the company representative says something about getting you ranked in the first place on Google in a week, I’d ask them one question:
What is the level of competition for the terms?
Some key words have 500 or 600 competing pages. Some have 300,000 to 1M competing pages. Others have as much as 300M or more. Obviously, the lower the competing pages, the easier it is to rank for that word. However, the lower the competing pages are, the lower the number of people searching for them, as a rule. If no one is using that key word or phrase, it doesn’t do any good for the company to get your website ranked for them. In fact, the possibility is high that you would rank for them on your own, without SEO, if you just waited a little bit.
SEO – Time, Money or a Bit of Both
If you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t have a lot of money, but you need SEO, don’t despair. Many companies and individual optimizers will work with you. It might take a little longer to see results and there may be a large, initial deposit while the campaign is being developed, but it’s a cheaper, less time-consuming option.
To be completely honest, search engine optimization seems like a no-brainer to me. It makes sense that, if I want my website to be found through search engines by paying customers/clients, I should make it easier for that to happen. I love SEO, though. I’ll try not to hold it against you if you don’t.
Whether it’s worth your time or money, however, only you can decide. Even if you don’t know what your website needs, you already know it needs something if you’re not getting traffic and conversions. Search engine optimization might be the answer.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 16:45 and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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