This is an all too familiar request from business owners when it comes to their new website. They often say it as if they’re ordering coffee at McDonalds. It’s not like ordering coffee, more like ordering a new road or long driveway. There’s lots of planning, disagreements and hard work ahead. And in 95% of cases, it takes way longer than either party wants.
Some of the reason many people think it easy is due to the millions of scammers out there selling SEO services. You’ve likely seen the emails or phone calls from India all promising to put you on page one of Google for just a few dollars a week. (I’ve long since setup my spam filters to trash these as soon as they arrive). But this phenomenon builds the perception with business owners that it must be both easy and cheap to get to number one in Google. Sadly, the truth couldn’t be more different.
Yes, it is easy to get any site ranking at number one for specific search phrases. However the keyword phrases the scammers would choose would not get you much business or website traffic. This is the con and how these people make a living. Like politicians promises, you only get half the picture. The devil is in the detail. And since these people don’t charge much, when it doesn’t work, you just write off the expense, telling yourself that this whole SEO thing is a waste of time. The only winner in all this was the guy selling you SEO. Maybe you did get a couple leads and convince yourself it was worthwhile. After all, no one like to think they’ve been made a fool of.
These SEO swindlers push the mental buttons of getting something for little or nothing and being “in on the secret.” My client websites constantly get spam emails from alleged experts on SEO. Ironically, had we not done some SEO work their sites and made it Google-friendly, these scammers wouldn’t even know these sites existed – They use Google to seek out new clients…
Know the right keywords
Having an SEO specialist provide you with fixed monthly or project prices is the first clue to a suspect supplier, Although to be fair, some legitimate SEO companies do this because it’s what the market and businesses demand. They like fixed costs. The problem is every site and domain has different issues and challenges. An hours analysis work and perhaps an Adwords campaign is needed to gather enough data before the size of the challenge and realistic budget can be established.
But assuming the website is built right and the googlebot can actually make sense of it, then in simple terms it comes down to selecting the right keywords/content/links that will get you both traffic AND new business. Chipping away at this over 6-12 months works, but few business seem to have the patience. We live in an instant gratification world. (Google do have a product for this).
Beware of Pandas and Penguins
Search is also a highly dynamic environment with other players competing for those words and Google themselves tweaking the ‘ranking formula’ to make search results more relevant for the user. These updates get names, Panda and Penguin. The Penguin 2.0 update this week is a major one, targeting the illegal techniques these fly by night SEO operations utilise. One of the best people in this part of the world that talks about this stuff is Jim Stewart in Melboune (right). His weekly video blog is superb.
Often, the only solution short term is to buy your way to page one with Google Adwords. However although Adwords can work well, realise that 75% of people that arrive on a Google search page, ignore these ads. This means the need for good websites + good SEO is still required in order to be found by the widest audience.
We’re Too Trusting; Too Gullible; Too Ignorant
Probably the hardest one to come to terms with for most businesses (especially small businesses) are web services and SEO. With traditional physical products and/or services you almost could tell before you laid out the money what you were getting. With the web it’s not as transparent and it can take lots of “wrong turns” before you realize it. There is no warrant of fitness or useful qualification that informs the buyer this person or service is legitimate and they know what they are doing. Most can only judge things by how the site will look visually. But like a book, it’s what’s inside that will determine if the site succeeds.
Wherever there is a knowledge gap between the the service provider and the customer, there is an opportunity to deceive. Promising great things for little money and actually delivering little.
This sales pitch is all too common online. Yes, the articles on this site provide useful guidelines, but there’s still no magic wand to good SEO, getting traffic or building a successful business online. Like building that new road, it’s hard work and not particularly sexy. And just like online, you need a good road to get traffic flowing.
Nothing worthwhile comes without lots of understanding, hard work and persistence.
Nothing comes without lots of understanding, hard work and persistence. This is the real secret, one that has been true for thousands of years in whatever new venture humans take on…