SEO in 2016: The Time is NOW!
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Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is one of the biggest buzzwords in the marketing/advertising space. Borrell Associates forecasted that businesses will spend an estimated $65 billion dollars in SEO for 2016 and over $80 Billion by 2020. It’s the advertising medium that most small businesses know they need to invest in, but have no clue on whom to trust or how the process actually works. Business owners tell me constantly that they get a call a day from google to optimize this or that (which isn’t really Google) and they are confused on who to turn to that’s going to provide a decent return on investment, show transparency and make sure things are done the right way.
When customers have advertising opportunities that can provide immediate impact (PPC) while also invest in traditional marketing (Newspapers, Directories, Coupons) that can be measurable easily, it’s hard to know that an investment in SEO is going to bring the best ROI for their business. It’s a wait and see model that some small/medium size businesses can’t afford or don’t understand how they can afford it.
SEO is a very complex marketing discipline, and can be a challenge to perform high-level, high-quality work. Ad agencies know this and are tempted to cut corners to attempt quicker results for their clients to beat deadlines and to show immediate dividends. It’s important to realize that the long-term gain outperforms short term results. It’s hard for small business owners to realize this potential. Since many of them are hand-to-mouth individuals who can’t always see beyond this week’s purchase orders, the biggest goal of an SEO company is to provide and spell out the course of action to see results. They enjoy the pay per click mentality because they’ve been ingrained in media consultants talking about cost per lead, amount of calls received, and data used to provide immediate assurances that their advertising strategy is working.
Most of the agencies ALSO offer SEO opportunities but since they’ve been ingrained to determine a successful campaign by these measuring sticks, it’s hard to prove the value in a product they offer that doesn’t provide this data consistently and quantitatively. But what they consistently forget is SEO is the long term solution. It’s a different mindset. When you spend $500-1000 a month in PPC, you technically have a finite number of impressions, clicks and leads determined through your budget. It may fluctuate on the individual campaign or on the optimization of a PPC campaign, but the solution remains the same. For every PPC campaign a certain dollar amount provides “X” return of clicks and if you don’t spend more money or your budget is gone you are no longer there.
Most people I talk to that are interested in SEO learn to understand the value of the product through a discussion about real estate. When you rent an apartment, condo, house etc. there is limited risk. You have your monthly rent and utilities but you know what you’re going to pay every month. This is Pay per click. You set your budget and keywords. Overtime you know approximately what you will receive every month when you put your budget in PPC. You are renting your space. As soon as that budget is gone, you’re gone.
SEO is more like home ownership. It’s a much riskier solution over the two but if done consistently and through correct strategies can provide a better return on investment for you. Instead of renting your space on search engines you are now building equity in your website. The initial upfront costs are higher with little ROI much like an interest payment on your mortgage, but soon there will be a point where you’re no longer having to pay search engines money because you’re optimized for the keywords you’re trying to attract.
Search engines like Google understand this. They are a $74B business that receives the most of their revenue by ad agencies and small businesses using the Pay per click methodology (which is 12.9 percent increase in revenue YOY). And Pay Per Click is one of the best methods you could do as a company to provide leads to your business. It’s an instantaneous change in position on their website that is designed to generate leads for your business. It’s an incredibly measured product. They position the ads in the way people read websites first so they can optimize their potential leads for their clientele. They do not, however, earn money from google maps or any type of organic placement. But over the course of the past few years they are also adapting to how people are searching and changing how they can monetize off of this. That is why they have taken a “7-pack” of google maps down to a “3-pack.” They call these decisions the “end user experience” changes but let’s analyze what this will do for the search results. More people will need to PAY for the opportunity to be found on Google instead of showing up for free. This is why they’ve even optimized their own PPC solutions by eliminating the right rail of sponsored search. They’ve made the decision to streamline their mobilized search but also eliminated 4 positions to be found at a lower cost per click price-point.
This change essentially makes it more expensive for every advertiser to be found and chosen on their search engines. There is less real estate to purchase ad space on Google, so therefore, the Google search results price per click gets higher. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Real Estate. And these customers rely so heavily on being found immediately on Google so they pay the increased cost. Google is a business that cares about end user experience, yes, but it’s also about increasing its profits for their shareholders. Remember that 12.9% increase in revenue over 2014? There’s a reason for that. They make decisions that will ultimately get to that goal. That is why we see these decisions. If small businesses would invest in their website and SEO, they can start to shave hundreds of dollars per month off of their PPC budget and not have to be charged per click anymore. They’ve invested in their website and now the bell curve “interest payments” are going down and more equity is being built up and they are organically showing up. They now aren’t always relying on the altar of “The Google.”
What To Do When Setting Up A SEO Strategy
The biggest course of action is to take time and set out a roadmap or game plan for the next three, six and twelve months of any SEO campaign. Most business owners have heard over conversations or reading that SEO is just about new content, blog posting and links. Many companies just assume that if I dump a bunch of posts on a blog and call that content that Google likes it and they’re going to rank higher. The truth is with every post, every blog, every link and every website update provides benefits and drawbacks. With every Google Update release, your website either increases or decreases in position.
Take a couple hours and develop the online strategy for your clients. Something that they can use to reference throughout the course of their 3 month, 6 month and 12 month checkpoints. The smartest strategy is to develop the roadmap before launch of the campaign so everyone is in agreement on the strategy moving forward and they can have input in the delivery and execution of the project.
Realize that clients are not machines and you need to treat them like humans. These small business owners may say the know the buzzwords but most don’t know what the meanings behind these buzzwords actually are. Meta Descriptions, Title Tags, ALT tags might be something that’s second nature to you, but these business owners need to be taught why they are important and how they interact with a SEO Campaign. If they are a new client, it’s smart to go over what they mean even though they say they know so you can make sure you’re on the same wavelength when it comes to the scope of your project and the final outcome.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly. Google announced earlier in April of 2016 on the Webmaster Blog that they are going to be boosting the effects of the mobile friendly algorithm they launched back on April 21, 2015. This will happen in the beginning of May 2016, and will increase the effect of the mobile friendly ranking signal. This means that it will impact many people that don’t have mobile responsive websites. Google said that if you are already mobile-friendly, that you should not be impacted by this update. As a friendly reminder, if you’d like to check to see if your website is mobile friendly you can check Google’s mobile guidelines and use the Google mobile-friendly tool located here.
Search Engine Optimization is long term value most small businesses need yet can’t see a way to measure success. We’re in the microwave give me now society that craves the success of PPC and small businesses are too hand-to-mouth waiting for this week’s purchase orders. They’ve been ingrained over decades in other methods of advertising but know that this is something that needs to get done in 2016. SEO is the advertising medium that most small businesses know they need to invest in, but have no clue on whom to trust or how the process actually works. It’s their website. It’s their chance to carve out real estate in the wild west of the internet like Tom Cruise did in the movie “Far and Away.” The goal is education. Educate your clients on what needs to be done and develop a strategy WITH THEM that can be quantitative. What we’ve seen is educating the client takes more time but yields a longer term client when done properly.