“I need you to do some SEO to my website”
That, and a few other variations of that phrase is usually an indicator to me that someone is clueless about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I get calls all the time from business owners, graphic designers, even marketing veterans saying similar things. When I hear this I know the very first thing I need to do is to educate that person on what SEO really is and to set the proper expectations for them.
As someone who conducts SEO campaigns for clients, the best scenario for me is to have a customer who is well educated on SEO. It's part of my job to make sure that they understand what it really is and what impact a successful SEO campaign can have on their business.
One of the first things that I do is to explain what SEO is not. This is to help clients become realistic in their expectations.
Below are 5 misunderstanding that I try and clear up with clients before we agree to work together.
SEO Is Something You “Do” To Your Website
SEO is not something that you sprinkle on top of a finished website to make it search engine friendly. Unfortunately, many people (including designers) think that SEO is something of an afterthought, the icing you put on top of a birthday cake before you light the candles. Wrong.
Thinking about SEO after your website is up and running is like creating your marketing plan and conducting market research after you open your business. There are over 200 factors when search engines determine rankings for a website on a particular search term. That means that there are lots of things to plan for when creating a search engine friendly website.
SEO should be a part of your website, planned for from the very beginning. Can you make a website search engine friendly after the website is live? Of course you can, but it's going to cost you more time and money to do it after the fact and could even result in a total overhaul of the website.
SEO Is The Answer To My Business Prayers
SEO is not a business savior. If done correctly, it can definitely increase your lead generation and get yourself noticed, but it won't make up for other deficiencies in your business. It should be thought of as a long term marketing strategy rather than the “Hail Mary” pass that many people view it as.
Now with that being said……you should be thinking about and implementing sound SEO practices from the beginning, just don't think of it as a some kind of miracle cure for your business. High search engine rankings take patience, time and alot of work. The people that are successful in it are the ones who understand that it's a long term strategy that will deliver alot of great things later on down the road, whether that's in months or years. If you need customers fast, run a PPC campaign.
A High Search Engine Ranking Equals Cash In The Bank
High search engine rankings for a your key industry search terms will deliver traffic to your website and will get you qualified leads…..it's up to you to turn them into a customer. Think of SEO the same way you would treat any other marketing campaign….it will generate interest, not customers. Paying customers will put cash in your bank account, not SEO.
SEO Is Free
The only way SEO is free is if you think your time has no monetary value. Heck, even McDonalds values your time more than that if you work there. PR is free, but companies spend millions of dollars a year getting that free publicity.
When working with a client I try and convey how much time a solid SEO campaign takes to implement correctly, otherwise they just see SEO as one big thing that gets slapped onto a website. That doesn't sound like it takes very long to implement when you put it in those terms. What really happens is hours upon hours of research, analysis, website improvements and ever the ever grinding link building aspects of SEO.
While the actual search engine rankings are free, the hours and hours of work spent getting there aren't. Whether you run your own SEO campaigns, or pay someone to do it for you, realize that it's alot of time and work to get those “Free” rankings.
SEO Is Something That You Can Do Once
Sometimes people think that SEO is something you can do to your website for a few weeks, and you're set for life. Wrong. The search engine landscape is changing all the time, it's even hard for us web marketing professionals to keep up, let alone the average business owner.
If you worked on optimizing your website, got yourself a handful of links, and then stopped, you'll probably find that a year from now alot of what you did would be outdated, ineffective, or even frowned upon by the Google Gods. Yes, we call them the Google Gods. It's not always fair for them to change the SEO rules so frequently, but they do and it's their game so we have to play by their rules. To stay ahead of the SEO curve, you need to have an ongoing plan of building new backlinks, creating fresh content and making tweaks to your website for better optimization.
SEO is alot of work
As you can see, SEO is not as simple and easy as some people make it seem (damn you SEO's who guarantee 1st place Google rankings for a mere $99, a total lie). A serious SEO plan should be part of a bigger marketing plan for your business and should be seen as a long term strategy as it takes time, alot of work and a little bit of luck from the search engines to really benefit from your SEO investment.