I think most business owners react the same way I did, when I first heard about the idea behind search engine optimization: “That’s cool! I want that!”
The fact is, there’s a lot to be gained from a good SEO campaign:
However, I’m an SEO consultant who’s telling you: SEO is not the right solution for every business.
Let me tell you a story to explain.
When I drive home each day my route takes me past this old, run-down gas station. It’s hard to even tell if this place is still open. It’s not a place you’d stop unless you were really running on fumes. Outside this small store is an old sign with movable type, declaring to all who pass-by, “We sell hot dogs.”
What does this have to do with SEO?
When I drive-by this gas station every day, I’m on the way home from work. Because I love to cook, the first thing I do when I get home is turn-on the oven, in preparation for whatever meal I’m going to cook. It might be close to dinner-time when I’m driving by the gas station but I’m not looking for a hot dog.
The same things is true for search engine users. If no one’s looking for what you have to offer, no amount of SEO will help your business. Before you begin an SEO campaign, you need to understand how your potential customers are looking for you. The fact is, in some industries, people don’t turn to the search engines for help. This is true for very niche industries or for very new products or services. In these cases, you need a marketing channel that will build credibility (for the niche) or will increase demand (for the new).
This gas station is the only one around for at least a couple of miles in any direction. Frankly it’s the only building around for a few miles. Despite this I don’t think they’re selling a lot of hot dogs.
The same thing is true for search engine users. Being #1 for your favorite term doesn’t guarantee your business will actually get anything from that.
Sometimes clients get excited when they see themselves at the top of the search engine results. “Yippie,” they shout with excitement, “I’m number one for blue widget manufacturers in Podunk, IA.” Congratulations- you’re the only gas station in a 5 mile radius selling hot dogs. I don’t want to discourage their excitement but there’s a lot more work to do.
Sometimes being number one in the SERPs doesn’t help because people aren’t using that phrase in their search. Many of my clients have been true experts in their fields. They are so knowledgeable about their industry that they forget that people don’t always use the technically correct phrase to describe their product or service. Congratulations, you’re the only gas station for miles that sells “tube-shaped processed meat sticks.”
Here’s a secret: despite my best attempts at controlling my caloric intake, every once in a while I’ll stop and buy a hot dog on the way home from work. I don’t stop at this gas station, however, but the shiny new QT up the road. I love QT- not only because of their prices but because the business is designed to get me in-and-out quickly. Even their cashiers are rushing to make change to get me back on the road.
Why don’t I stop at the station that is actively trying to sell me hot dogs? Because it’s a hole. I don’t trust their hot dogs- I can’t help but think they’ll make me violently ill. I’m not even sure it’s a safe place to stop. And, like I mentioned earlier, I’m never sure they’re open.
Is your website the same as this little gas station? Does it look like (or was it, really) designed by your niece when she was in High School? Does it build trust and confidence in your services and brand? If your website looks like a piece of junk, even if we were to successfully drive search engine traffic there, would anyone even trust you enough to contact you for your services? If not- perhaps you should get a new website first.
Now, by saying this, I’m shooting myself in the foot. I don’t build websites. I’m an SEO consultant. That being said, if your website looks as bad as a run-down gas station miles from anywhere, be sure to bring your SEO consultant in on the website build to make sure it not only looks better but is built to serve your customers.
So, business owner, I know SEO sounds like a cool way to get more business. Before you hire someone to help “SEO your website” be sure to make sure it’s the right solution for your marketing needs.
SEO is a great marketing channel. Before you engage in a campaign, however, make sure it’s right for you.
Have you found out the hard way that SEO is not the right channel for your marketing efforts? Do you think it might not be right for you? Let’s talk about it, in the comments.
Reliable Acorn will help you create a custom digital marketing strategy that does just that.Ready to Talk?