a Primer for the Small Business Owner on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Not a day goes by that the typical small business owner doesn’t get a phone call, an email, or even direct mail promising them that they can get their business on the first page of Google. For the small business owner, all they want to know is, “does it drive traffic to my site?” That sets the trap. There’s three things these telemarketing snake oil salesman don’t want you to know but first…
The last I looked, Google’s first page looked like this:
I guess they failed? All kidding aside, what they are referring to is what is called SEO – it stands for Search Engine Optimization. When you search for something on Google you’ll get what is called a SERP – that stands for Search Engine Results Page. The SERP depends on the keywords you happen to enter into that little box – those are called Keywords.
What these marketing types are trying to say is that
“We can get you on the 1st SERP for certain keywords (if you pay us)“.
Here’s what you need to know.
Google doesn’t have an On/Off button. You can’t just turn on Google and start getting results.
You can’t, and more importantly, they can’t either.
Proper SEO takes time and effort. It’s not a sprint, in fact… it’s a marathon!
Everything besides the Paid results are what we call Organic.
These are the links we usually click.
True SEO can get you to the top of the Organic results if you work hard at it and know what you are doing.
Your typical SEO telemarketer certainly isn’t going to work hard and I argue that they don’t know what they are doing. Matter of fact I make money repairing the damage these telemarketers do when they get a business to pay them. Yes, Google will actually punish you if you misbehave.
The other option these telemarketers have is to take that money you paid them and buy ads for the keywords that you want to rank well for. You won’t show up in the Organic results but you will in the Paid. Surprisingly, that’s not a bad thing. Spending money for advertising is a general cost of doing business.
Here’s two ways they’ll take advantage of you.
#1: The cost for running ads (in Google, Linkedin, or Facebook) is pretty simple. With the available spots (let’s say the top 3) Google looks for the three highest bidders. That cost is determined by a number of factors… How popular is that keyword, what is the competition for that keyword, and what did they bid? Want to rank for a popular keyword with plenty of competition? It’s going to cost you. Less popular keywords with less competition will cost you a bunch less. It’s supply and demand. There is no set price for a keyword. The bid prices change daily or even hourly!
When a company runs an ad campaign for your business they generally charge you a monthly fee. What you don’t know is that they also charge a margin on the bid prices you are paying.
#2: The Captured Website. In this scenario, you pay the company (usually a setup fee + a monthly fee), they buy a domain name, build and host a website for you, run an ad campaign, and send you the leads. It all works like butter. Until… until the leads slow down.
That’s when you call them up and they explain that you have to ‘upgrade’ to their “Platinum Package” to get back to where you were.
You decide to leave this company and go with that telemarketer that calls you every Wednesday. (persistence sometimes pays off) Besides, they are promising the same results but are much cheaper! How could you lose?
That’s when you learn that the domain name is owned by them (the old company).
That great looking website? Also owned by the old company.
Guess who’s not going to give that to you? Yup!
* I actually talked to someone who had this happen to them 3 times! They came to me for their 4th website but went with yet another smooth talking sales pitch. #SuckerBornEveryDay
What can you do?
Own your own domain name. It costs around $10 a year.
Own your own hosting and web design. Most sites can use hosting that runs less than $5 a month. Hire a web developer / designer if you need to. (I know a great one!)
Run your own Ad Campaigns. It’s not as hard as you think and if you know what you are doing you’ll do it much better than these SEO companies.
If you need to, you can hire a small business consultant to get you started. Just make sure they know what they are talking about. (hint: I know somebody)
He's an avid hockey fan, rides a mountain bike, sometimes rides a road bike, has a few motorcycles (he had a really fast one, bought a cool orange one, rode a really slow one, and wants a really small one). If that isn't enough, he makes cheese and sourdough bread, loves strong beer and good red wine, and poorly plays the Mandolin.