It’s easy to feel like your ambitions for an online presence end when your website goes live. You have a business, you have a website, and you’re on the Internet. Done!
All of a sudden, crickets! The phone calls aren’t coming in, and neither are the emails. Maybe you try your luck with paid online ads but get disappointing results. You do a few social media posts to promote your business, hoping someone sees them but still nothing.
Confused and discouraged, you wonder what you’re doing wrong and how you’ll ever generate sales. Why aren’t people clicking over to your website? Why aren’t they calling? Why aren’t they emailing? What’s going on? Does the story sound all too familiar?
Maybe you already have an idea of what SEO (search engine optimization) is and how it works, but the concept still leaves you scratching your head. It’s unclear why you should care about it and why you should spend money on something only techies seem to understand.
This post hopes to clarify the value of SEO without getting technical. Rather than talk about why meta tags are important, we will talk about tomatoes. Stay tuned!
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it begins with SEO being the guiding light.
You Cannot Begin Without a Marketing Strategy
Without a clear strategy, you’re driving blind on the highway – no GPS, no paper map, not even a compass. You need to know where you’re at, where you need to go, and the directions to your destination. Driving with no directions doesn’t make sense and neither does marketing without a plan.
But, You Don’t Need to be the one to Think of it
That is correct! You don’t need to be the one to think of your marketing strategy. Save yourself the migraines and leave that to a marketing agency to handle. However, before launching your marketing efforts, you should ask yourself the following questions.
Are you Really in Business?
Is it clear what you’re selling or offering as a product or service and do you have a process for delivering it? Sure, it’s normal (and recommended) to make changes and improvements along the way. But if you’re still in the initial stages of figuring out what you’re doing, then it’s important to work that out first. It may seem obvious, but in our experience, we’ve encountered individuals who were in the early stages and still developing a business plan for themselves.
So, be clear about what your business is all about.
- What’s your product or service?
- What does it cost?
- How will you deliver it?
In other words, if someone were to request your service or product right now, would you be able to provide it for them, easily and efficiently, and repeat the process again?
Do you have a Business Setup?
A business setup can be any location where people can find your business, via virtual or real, like a website, social media page, or a physical location such as a storefront or office.
Is a Website (or the idea of having one) a Part of your Setup?
Most entrepreneurs know that a website is necessary in a world where we make more eye contact with Iphones than we do with other humans. It’s okay if you don’t have one yet. The main point is that you either have one or are dead serious about having one. Your business website is your virtual storefront or office that people will visit. Make sure to have one or make one, soon.
SEO Should be the Foundation of your Marketing Strategy
We want to emphasize again that you don’t need to have a completed website to start thinking about your online marketing. In fact, developing an SEO strategy is ideal before any smidgen of code goes up for your site – that is to say, SEO can begin on paper first. The main thing is to think of SEO as a significant part of your efforts and allocate a healthy dose of your marketing budget toward it. Most businesses benefit from SEO.
The Straight Answer to, ‘What is SEO’?
The boring but simple answer to this is that SEO is the process of optimizing a website’s pages for search engines. An SEO-optimized website makes it easier for search crawlers to find and show the pages in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) for related queries and keywords. Search queries and keywords are the phrases and terms that people type into a search box.
If you want to see SEO in action, just go ahead and do a google search for “puppies and kittens.” Notice the disgustingly adorable search results that come up – images, Youtube videos, and a list for different websites with probably more adorable content.
Check out this video on ‘What is SEO?’ for a more detailed explanation.
Other Online Properties Should also be Optimized for SEO
It’s not just your website that can be optimized for SEO. It can also be a Youtube video, an image, a Google My Business listing, your Yelp profile, or a post on a blogging website. These online assets can also appear in search results and they are additional sources for online traffic.
Let’s be clear, SEO optimization for anything doesn’t guarantee you will be # 1 or even on page one of Google. But you’re certainly in a better position than someone without optimization. Who gets to the top is a race decided by algorithms that analyze hundreds, possibly thousands, of factors instantaneously. But, it’s better to be in the race than not in it at all.
How is SEO Different from Other Types of Marketing
SEO differs from other marketing like paid ads in several ways. When you purchase an ad on Google or Facebook, you pay the company to run it on their platform. Once you stop paying, your ad stops running.
On the other hand, SEO never stops working for you. Organic search results are just that, organic. You don’t pay for that virtual space. Even if you only have one page of your site optimized for SEO, that page is likely to trigger more impressions and clicks over its lifetime than one that is not well-optimized.
Another overlooked benefit is that organic results appear as more ‘trustworthy’ for users because they instantly recognize them as not being ads. Therefore, click-through-rates for organic are higher than they are for ads for that reason.
Getting there is a more time-consuming and complicated process. But, it’s well worth it. We like to think of paid ads as renting your marketing while SEO owns it.
Paid Ads = You’re Renting your Marketing.
SEO = You Own your Marketing.
Building a Home: An Analogy for how SEO is Done
Let’s talk about how we get there. How do we begin to build on your SEO?
First, understand that a completed website doesn’t translate into an SEO-optimized website. While there is a process for building a website, there is also a process for building your SEO.
SEO is a lot like construction on a new home. You begin with blueprints, planning, and choosing the construction site. From there, you pour the foundation and start with framing. Builders put up wood beams, walls, plywood, and other materials to create the home’s skeleton.
After, they might do insulation, electrical wiring, pipes, HVAC systems, and so on. Eventually, they get to the drywall and add the finishing touches to the interior like installing sinks, lighting, and flooring.
Apologies to professional builders if we got the construction process wrong, but you get the idea. For each construction phase, there is a series of steps. But, it all begins with an initial plan. Now, you may think that once a new home is built, it’s finished. But, is it really ever finished?
A house needs upkeep and maintenance. The hedges need to be trimmed, the gutters cleaned out, and eventually, things will break down and need replacement. This isn’t to say that SEO “breaks down” and needs “replacement,” but over the long term, your SEO does require maintenance for you to remain competitive in organic search.
You’ve bought a home, one of those track homes where every house on the block is new. Suddenly, you’re in competition with your neighbors to have the best and most beautiful-looking home on the block – the most “optimized” home if you will.
All of you try to outdo each other by doing upgrades, landscape design, building pools, adding solar panels, etc. Not only are you in competition with your neighbors, but you know that all these upgrades increase your home’s value.
Similarly, a well-optimized website that gets traffic and clicks is more valuable – yes, we mean monetarily more valuable, than one that is not optimized.
A Vegetable Garden: An Analogy for How SEO Pays off for your Business
Now for you, SEO’s primary objective isn’t to increase a website’s value. It’s to generate new business, either through leads or customers who make a purchase. Another way to think of SEO is like growing a vegetable garden.
Let’s go back to your new home in the above example. Imagine that one of your projects is to plant your own vegetable garden in your backyard. Like building a home, it also begins with a process: choosing a location, choosing your veggies, preparing the soil, and planting your seeds.
Over time you take care of your garden by watering, fertilizing, and keeping weeds out. Your crops begin to grow, and eventually, they produce the vegetables you’ll use to cook delicious meals.
You Say Tomatoes. I say Leads!
Let’s assume you planted tomatoes in your garden. Sure, you can save a lot of time buying tomatoes from the supermarket rather than growing your own. But each time you buy a tomato, you pay for it. When you run out, you have to go back and get some more, spending money each time you go to the store.
With a tomato crop, you get tomatoes, forever! (as long as you take care of your crop, of course, remember ‘Maintenance’); and they’re free! The same concept applies to organic leads that come from SEO.
Organic Leads are Better than Paid Leads
They Reach You Instead of you Having to Reach Them.
Organic leads usually turn out to be better quality because they arrive through their own will – they did not hear about your business through an ad that reached them. Instead, this person did a google search and found your business as a potential solution to a problem they are trying to solve or for a product they are thinking of buying.
Organic leads are proactive and more likely to be down the sales funnel to take action. This action could be a phone call, an email, or even a click to ordering your product.
SEO Should be Combined with Paid Ads for the Best Results
We are by no means knocking the value of paid ads., which happen to be another service we offer. But what we are saying is that we don’t advise putting all of your eggs in one basket. In marketing, like investing for your future, diversification is key. The best marketing strategies are holistic and use different mediums to generate results. We advise using both SEO and paid ads in addition to your offline marketing as the ultimate solution. SEO does have its downsides, one of the main ones being the amount of time it takes to see results. On the other hand, paid ads (with the proper budget) can mitigate time constraints and provide your business with additional revenue streams.
Almost every type of business can benefit from SEO. It’s especially vital for attorneys, contractors, health practitioners, and other types of businesses who depend on generating new clients in the communities they serve. Many owners start with a vague idea about marketing and try running their own ads or doing anything they can to get new business, only to find the process frustrating, confusing, time-consuming, and expensive.
Every business needs an online marketing strategy, with SEO being at the forefront of the plan. A marketing strategy can also include paid ads on Google and social media. This would be an ideal situation. However, in terms of long-term value, SEO proves to be king by generating quality organic leads for free. Getting there is not easy and takes time, much like building a home and caring for it. But it’s a worthwhile investment that pays off.
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