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The internet is a breeding ground of “get rich quick” schemes. This is especially true of SEO. If you have been in business at all no doubt you have received (possibly quite frequently) a slew of offers for guaranteed business. Because of all of the blatantly false advertising SEO seems to get a bad rap. It is dismissed, but should it be?
What is SEO?
In our quest for the truth about SEO we must first understand what it is before its effectiveness can be determined. SEO or search engine optimization is a branch of online marketing that deals with getting your site listed in search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) for specific search terms. For example, if you sell birds in your store you might want customers to see your name when they type “talking parrot” into Google. In order to appear you would want to use search engine optimization.
A Few Points of Order! (This is important)
Now that we understand what SEO is let’s take a look at a few common phrases you’ll hear from bad SEO marketers (RUN!). We can guarantee you a number one spot on Google! This is impossible. First, as can be seen from the latest PANDA update this year on Google, the rules can change. Second, your search results are a representation of how important and how closely your site matches your search terms in comparison with your competition.
If your competition has a better SEO program and is viewed as more important they will rank above you. We can guarantee you X results per month! (sales, hits, etc.) See above! Again, sales (conversions) are a result of not only traffic being driven to your site, but qualified traffic (i.e. customers ready to buy your specific product).
They must also find what they are looking for (i.e. your site is optimized). Now I will guarantee something! The person making that claim is highly likely to be a sales rep with little or no SEO experience. They are also most likely looking at your site for the first time as they make their umpteenth cold call for the day. Sensing a pattern? Run from companies that guarantee stuff.
Does SEO ever work?
OF COURSE! A well run SEO program can and does generate millions of dollars per month for quite a few companies, see Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc. When you need to find directions to a new restaurant, reviews, want to buy a new gadget, etc. where do you turn? Google! So does everyone else. If your business appears on page one for important and relevant search terms you will see new visitors. Assuming your website and content are target correctly this will lead to new sales.
Tracking your Results
Your new campaign is now up and running. Congratulations! How effective is it? Usually when I ask this question about previous marketing I get the glazed look of confusion. To be truly effective any marketing program must be backed by detailed metrics and analysis. Nothing will be perfect from the start and a good marketer will tweak the SEO campaign as the months roll on to ensure effectiveness. He will also provide a detailed analytics report beyond I made these links this month.
Patience is a Virtue
One of the most often asked question in any search engine optimization campaign is when I can expect results. Unfortunately, many business owners have the mistaken impression that you can double your money in a month with SEO. This is unfortunately false. A well run search engine optimization campaign can take up to 3 months to really get up and running and see concrete results. It will likely take 6-12 months to see dramatic sales increases.
Keep in mind that these are estimates largely determined by the amount of money spent on the SEO campaign and the stiffness of competition. (i.e. if you want to rank top 3 for online store (about 945,000,000 results) in 6 months with $100 a month in campaign it’s not happening). To summarize, a Search Engine Optimization program can be a life blood to your business. In order for that to happen it though, you must have a well run, well maintained, and must be analyzed.