Marketing 101: Search Engine Optimization

So what IS Digital Marketing? These words and “services” get thrown around a lot, but the truth is it’s very simple. Digital Marketing is anything a business can do on a digital platform (usually the internet) to try and promote their products or services and reach new and existing customers. The real question isn’t “what is digital marketing” it’s “what should my company be doing online and how can it help our bottom line”. Well if you have asked yourself that question then you have come to the right place for answers. In this series we will break down the different online platforms that are most successful and most popular and explain how each one can be used to help your business reach new customers and grow your revenue. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is the purpose of building a website? How do I actually get people to my website? What is this SEO thing everyone is trying to sell me and why should I spend the time and money on it? All very valid questions that we encounter as digital professionals. It’s our job to inform local business owners and help them succeed. 

If you are like 98% of all other local business owners, then you have almost definitely had someone, at some point, try and explain this crazy thing called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. They have probably even promised you piles of money if you just paid a “small” monthly fee and signed a contract. But, here’s the rub, if they don’t explain it fully and you pay that small fee and sign that contract and then they do something unethical, it isn’t their company that is going to be removed from Google search results, it’s YOURS. So, let’s spend a couple minutes talking about what SEO really is, why it is important for your company, and what you need to know before signing anything with any company. 
First, Search Engine Optimization (often called SEO) can most easily be described as the manual activities that a company can perform to match their website and their online reputation to the 200 different measuring factors that Google and other search engines use to rank sites in their results pages. While nobody can be exactly sure what these factors are, or the exact percentage that is applied to each factor, the standard and most tested school of thought within the SEO community is that 70-80% of the criteria deal with “on-site” elements and the rest deal with “off-site” elements. Your on-site elements are all of the technical components of your website that make it user friendly like your page speed, the style of coding used in its construction, how much content you have, and so on. Your off-site elements are things in other areas of the internet like your Social Media presence and the number of other credible websites that have links pointing back to your site (these are called backlinks and they are very important) which help determine the overall quality, credibility, and user experience of your website. By improving and manipulating as many of these 200 factors as possible, both on and off your website, an SEO professional can start to bring your website higher in Google results pages which in turn brings more potential customers to your website. 
Second, if you are a legitimate and ethical business then you should be investing in your product or service reaching as many customers as possible. Allowing larger companies to come in and saturate your market and your consumers with lower quality and/or higher cost products and services isn’t what you got into business for…is it? So, while it may seem mundane and unimportant for you to invest in these areas of your business the reality that we all must live in is that our world is driven by information and technology and consumers will choose content and convenience over local loyalty every day of the week and twice on Sunday. In multiple studies 70-75% of all search traffic went to organic listings (SEO) and nearly 95% of those searchers clicked on a company within the first 7 positions. That means for every 1,000 consumers who search for your product or service 650-700 are going to pick someone who lands on the first page nearer to the top. That doesn’t leave much of a piece of pie for businesses who refuse to adopt and invest in their digital health. 
Last, let’s talk about all those people who claim to be SEO experts and try to get their hands on some of your hard earned coin. First and foremost, any company who is a legitimate SEO provider is going to give you reporting to support their work. If you are paying someone to work on your digital behalf, you should absolutely be getting tangible evidence of the work they are doing and more importantly the impact it is having on your business IN DOLLARS. If you aren’t getting this from your provider it’s time to move on to a Certified Search Engine Optimization Expert. But, just because a company has a fancy report that gives you all the data points doesn’t mean that they are good or even legitimate by default. Second, your SEO provider should be giving you performance targets and objectives, be regularly hitting them, and be regularly reporting and reviewing that information with you. While your SEO provider might not be a direct employee of your company, they are an integral part of your business and it’s success and reputation online and they should be held accountable to that. Finally, a true SEO professional is balancing a list of over 200 digital responsibilities and usually (if they are any good) they are doing it for 10+ keyword targets. That means they need to have a considerable amount of skill, knowledge, and expertise about best SEO practices and that doesn’t come cheap. You should fully expect your provider to charge $75-125 per hour, require you to compensate them for a minimum of 10-15 hours per month, and have you agree to a term of 6-12 months at a minimum. That means you will see bids ranging from $1,500+ a month and total contract values between $18,000-36,000 a year. It is much better to work with a provider who is honest about their work and charges appropriately for it, than to work with a second rate company who cuts corners, lies, or acts unethically on your behalf and damages your online reputation, sometimes beyond repair.   

I’ve had several companies tell me they can get me to the top of Google for $500 a month, why pay more?

If you have been told by ANY company that they can guarantee you positions on Google for any set price in any set amount of time that is a huge red flag. Because Google uses so many factors in their ranking calculations, and because they are constantly changing them, the reality is that no SEO provider with integrity would make those promises. You should be looking for a provider that promises reporting as evidence of their work, reasonable terms and pricing, and sets targets based on traffic. 

Related Articles

Marketing 101: Website Design

So what IS Digital Marketing? These words and "services" get thrown around a lot, but the truth is it's very simple. Digital Marketing is anything a business can do on a digital platform (usually the internet) to try and promote their products or services and reach...

Marketing 101: Acquisition Cost

Welcome to our Marketing 101 Series! Here we will be taking a deeper look into some of the issues that business owners face in everyday situations. Take a minute to read our first discussion: Acquisition Cost. What is the cost of acquisition? How much marketing do I...

Share This