Do Search Engine Optimisation for the Right Reasons
In the last few days I've read a lot of articles about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Now we've entered a new year some have been making predictions, others have been reminding us of what the big trends were in 2014 and others are offering advice or introducing a service or tool.
While I was reading all these articles it struck me that they all focused on activity or features or both. Not one approached SEO from the most important angle of all and that's the "why do it?".
Business Objectives Come First
There's a good and obvious reason why SEO elicits mixed views among business decision makers. The reason is that way too many SEO initiatives are not linked to business objectives. Too many SEO initiatives have objectives like "increase backlinks" or "rank number one for widgets". These are things SEO can do but these may not help a business increase enquiries or sales.
Why we do SEO should always be to support a tangible business objective, like "increase inbound calls by 50% within 3 months". When we have objectives that can be measured we have something we can begin to qualify with questions like "where will we find the extra visitors?" and "what will it take to get the extra visitors?".
When we can qualify objectives with research data we can begin to refine objectives. For example, research may reveal that 3 months is unrealistic but 6 months isn't. This is helpful if not critical to know. I can think of a few SEO initiatives I've rescued when they were not delivering anything to the business bottom line. In a few cases it wasn't that the initiatives were badly flawed, it was that time expectations were unrealistic.
Avoid The Risk of Getting What You Ask For
If you are a business decision maker and you engage an SEO specialist to increase backlinks then that's exactly what you're likely to get. The risk is that you don't get the business result you were expecting, which is probably better page rankings, leading to more visitors and then more sales or enquiries.
The more productive approach is to involve an SEO specialist in the shaping of business objectives or at the very least share with the specialist what you are aiming to achieve through the investment you will be making in SEO initiatives. The reaction may be positive or not so positive. If it's not so positive it's better to know before spending a lot more money.
SEO Works Best When Linked to Business Objectives
When you relate SEO initiatives to tangible measurable business objectives you can answer that nagging question of cost. One article I read among the many in the last week was a little too negative for my liking about how much SEO should cost. The premise was that too many clients don't understand how much effort is involved in activities like link building. This may be true but my experience is that client's will invest what it's sensible to invest based on estimated returns.
Buying SEO Based on Cost
The difficulty most client's face when buying SEO services is that they are too often presented with tiered monthly pricing relating to a list of activities or features. This is fine if you already know what you need but this is a rare situation.
It's not safe to buy SEO services by selecting a shopping list of actions and features that match the price range you're prepared to pay. This will lead to you getting what you pay for but not what you need.
SEO is Necessary
SEO is not a luxury, it's a necessity...if you want to compete online. By doing SEO, in support of business objectives, you set yourself apart from the vast majority of businesses who still scratch their heads as to why their site is not bringing in business, even though their site looks great.
Start With Research
The place to start is with research aligned to business objectives. You can then work out what budget you need in order get the returns you're expecting.