With over 5.5 billion Google searches per day (that’s around 65,000 searches per second), “Googling” has become part of the modern purchase process.
In other words, if you’re serious about growing your business, you can’t ignore Google.
Yet, search engine optimization (aka SEO) gets a bad rap. In our business, as soon as you mention SEO, business owners usually roll their eyes in disgust.
Far more companies have SEO horror stories to tell than success stories.
Why does SEO get such a bad rap? Because too many companies have been burned, and because there are still far too many cold-calling and email spamming agencies trying to sell low quality SEO services.
If you are a small business owner, you probably get cold-called and email spammed weekly (maybe even daily) from offshore and domestic Internet marketing agencies that make promises they know they can’t keep.
While the vast majority of SEO companies fail to deliver sustainable results, the irony is that is that a professional SEO strategy almost always works over time.
That being said, even the best SEO strategy is doomed to fail for these five reasons:
1. You haven’t incorporated SEO with a broader marketing strategy
SEO is a cornerstone of inbound marketing and should be part of a holistic marketing strategy.
Most marketing professionals stress the importance of defining an “ideal customer” profile and creating marketing personas. But the truth is that you will never be able to create an ideal customer persona without a detailed analysis of his search behavior.
This makes keyword analysis perhaps the most important element of modern marketing. Once you know how your ideal customers search, you can use this information to develop the most effective marketing strategy.
2. You don’t have a long term perspective
SEO is slow cooked, not microwaved.
An effective, professional SEO campaign usually takes around 6 months to start showing results and often 12 months or longer for more complete results. Yet many businesses expect results in 6 to 12 weeks.
SEO industry experts Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen have a fantastic Here’s Why video episode on this very topic:
If you really want to grow your business by partnering with a proven SEO company, then you need to be thinking about a relationship that will last for years, not months, in order to really benefit from SEO. Think about it in terms of your relationships with your accountant, legal advisor and financial advisor. SEO is an experience and talent-based service. You shouldn’t treat your partner as any old vendor.
The good news is that all the tactics you need to do in order to get sustainable SEO results are things you should be doing for for your business anyway, such as: blogging, social media marketing, content marketing, reputation management, etc.
Just keep in mind that Google has 25,000 engineers that make 16,000 software commits every day. Google updates its ranking algorithm hundreds of times each year. Search results are in a constant state of flux as ranking weights are adjusted, and as new ranking signals are incorporated into the ranking algorithm.
3. You don’t have a properly funded SEO strategy
You can’t price shop SEO services. Period. This ties into the long term nature of SEO as an investment.
Every company is unique in terms of services offered, level of competition and geographic scope. Packaged SEO services make no sense. It’s like selling one shoe size for every type of sport. To get the best results, your company needs a custom strategy and the right tactical plan.
Your custom SEO plan needs proper funding, your participation and your ongoing support, otherwise it will fail or never reach it’s full ROI potential.
The best article every written on this topic was written by Josh Steimle on Forbes last year.
4. You didn’t hire a qualified SEO agency
Hiring a qualified SEO is easier than it sounds. The problem is that most companies select SEO agencies based on sales pitches rather than research. If you want to find the best search engine optimization company for your company or niche, all you have to do is look online. Follow up that research with reference checks.
Here is a post on Entrepreneur that outlines 7 red flags your SEO firm is going to rip you off.
5. You micro-manage your SEO service partner
We are not saying that you need to write a check and hope for the best.
SEO services should be transparent.
In fact, since Google has moved towards more punitive updates that will penalize your size for manipulative SEO practices, you must know what tactics your SEO company is using.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t micro-manage your service partner either. The best SEO consultants in the country are in the business because they love what they do and because they want to win. Micro-management can decrease morale and motivation. While most SEO consultants would not admit this, most of us work much harder for clients that provide encouragement and treat us like a member of the team.
You should also have a very clearly defined set of goals and metrics. You shouldn’t for example, pick some random “keyword phrase of the week” and fret because it’s not on the first page, or first position.
The end game is for SEO to power your entire marketing strategy by increasing leads and sales over time. Narrowly focused ranking and traffic goals can be misleading may undermine an awesome SEO strategy.