As web developers and online marketers our clients often come to us asking for SEO. And, if you have determined that your website needs some SEO, you’re probably right. But, there are a few things to consider before diving in.
SEO is a tactic, not a goal
The first question we have (and any good web marketing agency will have) is, why? What makes you think you need SEO? The answer can vary wildly, but the point of asking why is to understand the business goal behind the desire for SEO. The goal could be to generate more leads, sales, ad impressions, etc., but it should be concrete, and measurable.
Once we have a clear goal, there are a few questions to ask to evaluate whether SEO is the appropriate action to take.
- Do the expected outcomes from SEO address the aforementioned business goal?
- Is the expected cost of SEO, worth the expected return?
- Is SEO the most cost effective tactic we can use to achieve the desired outcome?
If the answers to all three of these questions is yes, then great, let’s do some SEO. But …
Expect SEO to take time
It’s still possible to get lucky, but the days of significant results for a small amount of work are long over. But, there is a lingering perception that SEO is about making a few small changes to the internal workings of a website. The truth is you can expect a significant amount of work, and SEO can take months to show desired results.
Why? Simply put, it is not in the best interest of the search engines to be easily manipulated. That said, it’s still important to deal with the relatively easy stuff:
- title tags
- meta descriptions
- duplicate content
- internal linking
- crawl errors
- other on-site concerns
Once your on-site SEO is established, it is wise to conduct a regular review to keep your SEO in alignment with new business goals, and the ever changing search engine guidelines.
Links are important, Proceed with caution
It’s a well known fact of SEO that links to your website (inbound links) are important. However, a lot has changed in recent years regarding tactics for building links. The short version of how to build links properly is that if it’s easy or automatic, be wary. And, focus on real business relationships, marketing value, and value for users.
Some tips for link building:
- a lot of Google’s recent algorithm changes relate to link quality
- focus on quality over quantity
- very low quality links should be removed (if possible) or disavowed
- be prepared to ask for links
- focus on good content, and links will come
- online marketing and promotion can pay off in links (i.e. social media, press releases, advertising, etc.)
Don’t put all your eggs in the SEO basket
If it’s not already clear, SEO is rapidly changing. Tactics that were industry standard just a few years ago now risk penalties, or outright bans. With such a variable nature, there can be no guarantees of results, but more importantly you don’t want to rely too heavily on SEO.
When algorithm changes come (and they will), a business overly reliant on SEO will feel the negative effects more strongly. Suddenly they are in ‘panic mode’, trying to figure out how to get their rankings (and traffic) back. In addition to the cost of lost business, the cost of rapidly repairing a website is often higher than maintaining a good web marketing mix, and attending to SEO changes over time.
So what other web marketing tactics should you employ? That depends on the business, but consider the following general areas:
- website analytics
- usability, UX, and conversion optimization
- social media marketing
- reputation marketing (on-site testimonials & reputations sites like Yelp)
- content marketing
- online advertising (search ads, content ads, remarketing)
- email marketing
- offline marketing (print, tv, radio)
By now you might have the impression that I’m trying to talk you out of doing SEO. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, there are so many misconceptions about SEO that it’s useful to have a clear understanding before getting started. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s do some SEO!
This article is the first of a two part series. Check back soon for part two: Let’s do some SEO!