Let’s face it. There are plenty of things you can do to rank, and rank well, in the search engines. Some are legit, some are not so legit, some are straight up illegal, but they’re out there. You can influence the SERPs, although not with a guarantee on the results. For example, you can’t know for a fact that the hard work you put in is going to get your site in that coveted #1 spot.
Two Big Factors in Ranking You Might Want to Know
The inability to guarantee placement is one of the biggest things that make business owners leery of SEO. “What do you mean I’m going to pay you money and may not get the results I want? What kind of deal is that?”
The deal is the two ranking factors we have absolutely no control over:
- Google’s daily, monthly, yearly algorithm changes – Google doesn’t tell us, anymore than it tells you, when an algo change is upcoming. Some SEOs spend hours poring over new and acquired patents, sort of like an SEO prognosticator, to see if they can get a glimpse into the future. Some are closer than others, but there’s still a lot of guess work involved.
- Your per term competitors – Each term you target has a set of businesses that are also targeting the term. So, for example, if you’re targeting “auto insurance quotes”, there will be at least 100 sites aiming (in some degree or another) for that term. At this point, it becomes a race against budget, manpower and willingness to invest. If your competitors all have more money, manpower and willingness to invest, your optimization firm will be fighting a losing battle to get (and keep) you ranking.
Is Your Online Marketing Budget Realistic?
Why is it that most companies can see the benefit of, say, word of mouth marketing as it applies in the physical world, but can’t see the benefit of WOMM online through social? Why is it fully acceptable to spend thousands of dollars on color brochures, direct mail marketing and so on, but a little bit of online content makes them balk? What is the defining characteristics of “worthwhile expenditures” when it comes to marketing your business?
The truth, which should be glaringly obvious, is so old it has cobwebs all over it. It takes money to make money. You have to invest, whether it’s time, manpower or other resources, for things to happen. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum!
Now, we don’t suggest that you throw away all your marketing efforts in favor of dumping the entire budget into SEO. What we do suggest, however, is taking a good hard look at your online budget and comparing it to what you expect from your online efforts.
Are you trying to order fine dining on a fast food menu?
For example, we get occasionally get potential clients that want SEO fast food (link title: SEO Fast Food: I’ll Take #1 Ranking with That, but Hold the Fries). Much like the individuals who stuff themselves on McDonald’s and Wendy’s while complaining about not being able to eat healthy, the “fast food SEO” individuals want to pay Value Menu prices for fine dining results. It doesn’t work that way; you get what you pay for.
The “Tommy Boy” Philosophy
If you’ve ever seen the 1995 movie, Tommy Boy, you might know where we’re going with this. One of the famous bits of dialogue from this movie has to do with guarantees. You can get the whole dialogue on IMDB, if you’re interested, but the “finer points” are as follows:
Customer: But why do they put the guarantee on the box?
Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That’s all it is, isn’t it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.
That’s a pointed statement, but it’s also a straightforward philosophy. Many business owners spend money on “guaranteed” services, only to find out that what they bought was a bunch of crap. Instead of looking at the guarantee, don’t you think it’s about time you started looking at the value of what you want from the services you’re paying for?
Value = Investment Cost, in Time, Money, Manpower, Resources
Your competitors and you have something in common. You all have put a “perceived value” on optimization. The question is (and you’re hinging all your online marketing efforts on this bet), “Do I perceive the value of optimization as being higher or lower than my competitors?”
Anytime you’re targeting the SERPS as your main source of income, you’re betting that you see the value of ranking as higher than your competitors do. You’re betting that your competitors don’t know about the value, and therefore won’t optimize or otherwise invest in online marketing. Because the truth is, the more perceived value the SERPs have for your competitors, the tougher the fight will be for you.
-And here’s where the other avenues come in, and where you really need to open your eyes.
Optimization is one piece of the pie. Traffic is another. Conversion is another. WOMM is yet another. All of these things take time to perform. They take manpower. They take resources. When you hire an online marketing firm, these things take an initial investment cost, and then an ongoing investment cost.
You have to decide if the value you perceive from SERP and social marketing is worth the investment cost – plain and simple. Your competitors already know the answer; that’s why they’re your competitors. Do you?