PART ONE: The Only Reason Why Businesses Fear SEO
Search Engine Optimization, (SEO), can be to some businesses what the boogie man was to us as kids. An unknown, hidden, dangerous monster who lived under our beds and always knew when we were feeling vulnerable and scared. We learned, as we grew older, that we were simply afraid of the dark.
SEO, a subset of Search Marketing, is the small business’s boogie man. As they grow and learn, the veil of fear is slowly lifted. Search Optimization soon becomes an essential part of their web presence. It is loved and embraced, a 180 degree turn around from when it was first discovered.
Possible Origins Of Our Search Optimization Fear
No one knows exactly why the fear exists in the first place. It could be that human beings are just hard-wired that way. Maybe it’s just instinctive. In any event, the less we knew about the subject, the higher our fear factor.
Here’s what we do know, Search Optimization is sometimes a subject that we find hard to get under our belt for two reasons. We feel that both are deliberately placed in our paths, even though that’s far from the truth.
- The Search Engines themselves, Google, Yahoo, Bing.
- The unethical, get rich quick group.
We will explore these two reasons, then we’ll teach you how to overcome them and finally, we’ll give you what we consider “the ONLY Reason” business owners actually fear SEO.
Reason #1: The Search Engines
New discoveries are being made at dizzying rates. Mobile Marketing. Local Marketing. Local Mobile Marketing. New internet technologies are emerging almost daily it seems. Who can keep up? The Search Engines are constantly changing their algorithms in order to do so and, to “serve you better“. Now, that sounds wonderful until you really examine it from their point of view.
Their bread and butter business is providing Search Engine Result Pages, (SERP’S), that are as accurate as possible, to their clients. In the “old days” of keyword spamming, anyone knowing how, could literally write their ticket to the top of the search results, regardless of the actual content of their page. Relevant information was optional, or so it seemed. That left the engines vulnerable.
The end-result: Ever changing algorithms designed to protect the search engines’ business environment model and not the customers’.
What’s a business owner to do? We suggest that there are principles of SEO that will more than likely never change. Learn them and apply them unwaveringly to your web content. Here’s an example. 5 years ago, link exchanges worked exceptionally well, with the quantity of incoming links dictating a page’s placement. Google’s webmaster guidelines however, clearly stated:
“Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or Page Rank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”
In 2005, Google finally had had enough and actually went after sites that were ignoring their guidelines. Overnight, sites that were enjoying “top dog” positions fell off the SE index or were relegated to deep inner pages on the SERP’s. Everyone cried fowl, forgetting, or choosing to ignore the fact that the writing was on the wall from the very beginning. They even coined a new phrase to express their outrage, “The Google Slap“.
Lesson To Be Learned: Always Stick To The Fundamentals!
Reason #2: Internet Get rich quick masses
In a similar fashion to the California Gold Rush Era, the advent of the Dot Com Era signaled an exodus to Silicon Valley. People came from all corners of the globe to establish their “internet stake”. Fortunes were made overnight and the future looked bright. Then came the “Dot Bombs“, and just like that, it all vanished, leaving “internet miners” holding useless claims.
It didn’t take the swift very long to figure out that the bubble may have burst, however, it left behind a whole new way to exploit the unwary. Yes, the internet allowed anyone to reach around the world to stick their fingers into someone’s wallet. What’s more, if done correctly, you could do so with their blessing!
A new term emerged to describe this type of person, the “quickster“. This is simply a person dedicated to getting rich quick by any means possible and without regard to good business practices or legal consequences. As you may suspect, with easy money, being such a powerful lure, quicksters soon began dominating and dictating the pace of business online, all due to their vast numbers.
A quickster could be that high-pressure salesman cold-calling you to pitch the benefits of SEO and promising you Top Ten Listings in the Search Engines in a week. Anyone who’s been around business for more than a week knows that cold calling is the least effective way to obtain new clients in today’s marketing environment. How then can they afford to do it?
The answer is quantity over quality.
A new client will not be afforded the customization needed for proper optimization. Chances are good that such a firm may be using automated SEO software or other “black hat” techniques that are guaranteed to get your web site blacklisted, or worst, de-indexed.
Black hat techniques are simple those tactics employed by some SEO’s to obtain an unfair advantage in the engines. These are considered tricks and are specifically not approved by the search engines.
Just suppose that they did get you ten number one listings for ten keywords. If no one is searching for those particular keywords, exactly how much traffic will visit your web site? What if those listings remain only for a few days then they disappear from the index forever. How did that help you and your business move on?
Guaranteed top ten listings are truly meaningless unless they are guaranteed for your “money keywords” and are guaranteed not to disappear from the index overnight. We don’t know of anyone who can truly promise that and deliver on their promise.
Lesson To Be Learned: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We said it.
How Do We Overcome This Fear?
In one sentence: SEARCH MARKETING EDUCATION.
You realize that the doubt and fear towards SEO was brought on by the two artificial factors, an ever-changing world wide web and by “quicksters”. You realize that, by removing these from the equation, you are removing the SEO Boogie man, neutralizing the fear. The question is, how is that done?
Start with learning the Fundamentals of SEO. These will likely never change. Learn to steer clear of companies that practice the “quickster” techniques to search marketing, the so-called black hat techniques. Learn to identify illegal SEO practices and head in the opposite direction from them.
You are now ready to begin working on a Search Marketing Campaign that will ensure the return on your dollars are within acceptable parameters. You should have realized by now that Search Engine Optimization needs to be an integrated aspect of your overall marketing campaign. Your needs are no different than that of a Fortune 500 corporation with a dedicated Search Engine Marketing Department. You both need visitors to your website in order to remain competitive. Without their resources however, your needs may well be more urgent.
WHO ARE THE “REAL” BAD GUYS.
It cannot be the quicksters. It’s true, quicksters are bad business and bad for business. Black hat SEO’s product insignificant and short-lived results if any. Truth be told, these are really just aspects of any business or social environment. The human mind seems to thrive and operate best while engaged in risky ventures. We didn’t originate that conclusion.
What about the Search Engines? Sure, they change their way of doing business at the drop of a dime, but is this so bad? We think not. Reverse the position. Your business against millions who are bent on learning your secrets just so that they can one-up you and profit from your demise.
How would you handle it so that yours remain a viable business?
If these two are not the “real” bad guys, then who are?
YOU ARE! Yes, You are the worst enemy of YOU Inc.
As human beings we are all equipped with certain psychological triggers that are well known to the sales and marketing worlds. These triggers are given many names in the world of NLP, better known as Neuro Linguistic Programming, but we’ll keep it simple and refer to them simply as, triggers.
Three Knee-jerk Psychological Sales Triggers
Here are three distinct ways of telling if someone you’re communicating with is attempting to manipulate you by addressing your psychological triggers.
The “Take-away” or “Scarcity” trigger.
Over the years, we’ve seen this technique in many places, in car dealerships, at grocery stores and now, it’s a staple in the internet marketing world. Some examples are: “This offer is good only until…..”, “Today only the price is….”, “We only have one at that price…..”, and our favorite, “I can’t guarantee that if you don’t buy this package today, your competitor won’t buy it tomorrow.” No attention is ever given to ethics when addressing your triggers. Your response should be just as brutal. Your business may depend upon this.
You have no obligation to work with any one SEO Firm. If they are using this tactic, then it’s probably good that they go to your competition. They’ll get your competitor’s web sites banned and this could only help you. We don’t really sponsor this line of thought, we are just saying that it is a reality you may have to face.
The “Social-Proof” trigger.
Simply put, you want to see what verifiable, professional results were obtained by other clients of their firm. Usually, one of the easiest and quickest way to get a clue about a firm is to reverse engineer the firm’s website in the engines. Here’s how.
If they are asking to provide “search engine optimization” for you, do a search in Google, Yahoo and MSN for Search Engine Optimization. Do this in Firefox. When the results are displayed, on the keyboard press Ctrl + F. In the search bar that comes up just above the status bar, (below left of your browser’s screen), enter their company’s main URL, (http://www.COMPANY.com).
The above simple search allows you to find if THEIR website is ranked in the search engine for the stated keyword. Remember, search engine optimization is a very competitive term, therefore, anyone on page one (top ten) is worth their salt, a page two (top twenty) listing is good and a page three (top thirty) is still okay. This can be done with any keyword you feel is pertinent to their stated business activities.
Chances are good that they are not even in the top 100, you probably don’t want to waste your time with a firm that cannot optimize their own web site.
This technique is good for established web sites that have been listed in the search engines for more than a year or two), and not necessarily true for the new firm. They are being judged by new site criteria, which is not a part of this experiment.
The “All For Nothing Down” trigger.
Instant gratification is being drummed into us and our children everywhere we turn. On the television, on the highways, at the schools, we are constantly bombarded with Buy now, Eat now, and Enjoy this now! Twenty years ago, tv commercial breaks lasted thirty seconds, today they are three minutes long.
These three minute intervals are crammed with highly manipulative and sometimes even the illegal, subliminal commercials. Our society is an instant society. “Buy now, pay later… Drive your dream car away today with no money down… You too can have…. You too can make millions by doing….”.
With each generation being a little bit more exposed to the “Commercial Brainwashing” than the last, is it really surprising that we are quickly becoming a an “All For Nothing Down Society”?
This brainwashing makes us easy prey for any salesperson with “You can pay for this with your credit card” in their arsenal. Especially when they are so gracious to point out that “by the time the payment comes due, the traffic increase leading to sales increase will more than make up for the additional payment. Who can resist that?
So, if these triggers are built in to our very being, how do we avoid the blunders?
BONUS CONTENT: We’ll teach you how to develop an impenetrable force field to ensure you are not victimized by the next cold-calling SEO salesperson. You only need two rules for this.
A true SEO firm will be more than happy to consult with you in order to determine YOUR needs. They will never pressure you to make a purchase, but instead, will be ready to set clear campaign parameters, web site goals and metrics. They’ll be honest to let you know when you should start seeing results and what quantifiable traffic targets would be within your reach.
Here’s the main trait they’ll all possess. If they deem your goals unrealistic, they will not be afraid to inform you of that fact. They also would not be afraid to walk away from your business if you insist that your unattainable goals are worth going after.
Rule #1, Take Your Time
You, as a small business owner, are busy. You don’t have the luxury of time on your side, but you must take your time if you are seriously considering a sales offer. Do not make any quick decisions. Always insist on doing your research first. If this is not acceptable to them, cut the conversation short and hang up.
Rule #2, Ask to speak with someone who actually handles site optimization.
This will enable you to discuss your specific site requirements with someone who knows what can and cannot be done. Salespeople don’t usually speak techno-speak and if they are reluctant to transfer the call, that conversation should be over.
What’s the bottom line on Site Optimization?
Search Marketing is without a doubt, a necessity in order for your online presence to be fruitful. We have given you quite a head start and you now know what to be wary of when selecting a Search Engine Optimization firm.
We’ve nullified the fear associated with the SEO field and provided you with simple ways to analyze your own vulnerabilities (psychological triggers). We’ve also shown you a simple way to reverse-engineer a website to reveal if they are as good as they say they are.
As informative as this article has been, you still don’t have all the tools needed to actively begin a Search Optimization Strategy that will result in increased sales.
Your next step should be to look at the actual planning and implementation process. You need to learn “How To Succeed Where Others Have Failed”. Coincidentally, this is the topic of PART TWO of our 6-PART Series, “SEO Tactics, Running With The Big Dogs”. As a reward for joining our Free Newsletter (to the right), we’ll provide you with link to instantly download Part two.