6 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About SEO
February 05, 2018
This week's blog post is a guest post from Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in the Chicago area.
As a provider of SEO services in Chicago since 1997, we’ve helped hundreds upon hundreds of entrepreneurs launch SEO campaigns and undo the damage caused by improperly managed campaigns. Based on this experience, we can share six issues every entrepreneur should be aware of when it comes to SEO.
Before getting into the details, a quick definition of SEO is in order. SEO — search engine optimization — is a marketing discipline aimed at getting targeted pages of your website to appear prominently in Google’s organic (i.e., non-paid) search results when people are searching for the products or services you sell.
SEO is complicated. It involves a lot of tweaking to your website, and a lot of off-site work as well — primarily revolving around getting other websites to link to yours. All of the many tasks undertaken in an SEO campaign are designed to get Google’s website crawlers (Googlebots) to prioritize your web pages over competitors’ pages in organic search results.
Here is what you need to know.
1. Your Website Needs to Be SEO-Ready Even If You’re Not Ready for SEO
A lot of startups don’t want to dive into SEO right out of the gate, and that’s fine — in fact, it’s probably a good idea. Nevertheless, your website should be built in a way that will support SEO down the road. Otherwise, when the time comes to do SEO, you’ll have to spend big bucks re-engineering your site or building a new one. It’ll be a hassle and possibly a big expense — and will delay your ramp-up of SEO by months or longer.
2. Beware of Package SEO Deals
We’ve seen so many small companies burned by signing up for package deals, we quit counting them years ago. Package deals are appealing because they’re cheap, easy to understand, and often promise the world. Run from these deals. SEO is too complicated for a one-size-fits-all solution. Every website needs a customized strategy and execution. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s the only way to get meaningful results.
3. Don’t Jump Into SEO If Your Business Model Is Rapidly Evolving
Entrepreneurial companies often go through several business model iterations before landing on a long-term business plan. A lot of SEO work revolves around keyword selection (i.e., words used by people searching for the things you sell) and content creation. So, if your target customers change, if your product/service lineup changes, if your value proposition changes, etc., you’ll end up with an SEO campaign focused on the wrong keywords and content. I’ll bet you didn’t think an SEO guy would try to talk you out of SEO, did you? Well …
4. SEO Has a Huge Long-Term Payoff
When the time is right, SEO is an investment well worth making for most companies. The number of daily Google searches is well into the billions, and mobile phone search is just starting to explode. It’s just too big a market to ignore. And, you already know from experience how often people check out a company’s website when researching products and looking for suppliers. If you do SEO properly, you can gain a significant competitive advantage in lead and revenue generation.
5. SEO Is Technical and Takes a Long Time
Googlebots are looking for long-term patterns as part of its ranking formula (the formula is called an algorithm in SEO-speak). Thus, Google likes slow and steady progress in creating content and links, versus sudden bursts of activity. So, be prepared to see minimal results in the first several months of your campaign. True, results sometimes come quickly, but if that happens, consider it gravy.
6. The Purpose of SEO Is Conversions, Not Rankings or Traffic
Believe it or not, a lot of companies forget this. The reason to invest in SEO is to drive qualified organic traffic to your website from Google — and then have those visitors inquire or order online. What’s the good of doubling, tripling or quadrupling your traffic if it’s not generating leads or revenue? Eventually, companies that don’t see ROI from their campaigns stop doing SEO. The key takeaway here is that not only does successful SEO require excellent SEO execution, it also requires a website that effectively converts visitors into leads and customers.