Good Search Engine Marketing May Be Bad For You

Good Search Engine Marketing May Be Bad For You
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Here’s A Story.

A few weeks ago we were awarded a contract to act as the online marketing company for a local business. That business had been paying another marketing company for SEO services and was firing them to hire us. I’ll be honest, I always feel a bit of an emotional crunch when we take business away from another competitor that is competent at what they do.

“A-ha,” you say! “But if they were competent, Ralph, they wouldn’t have been fired.”

Well. Maybe. But there is a catch.

In this case, the marketing company was good at what they did and did exactly what they said they were going to do. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t the marketing company, but the client. When the client said, “I want to be found on search engines,” what they really meant was, “I want more leads.”

So when the client went back to the marketing company and said, “Where are my leads?” what resulted was a conversation about page rank and authority and percentage increase in position and blah blah blah.

It’s not unfair for the other marketing company to take this position because after all, that’s what they got hired for. It’s hard for any company to deliver what they were asked to do and then get fired for it.

So to you, Dear Business Owner, Entrepreneur or Decision Maker, I say this…

Think about what you want for your business. Then think about what you’ve asked from your service provider or conversely, what your service provider offered to you. It could very well be that you are paying for exactly what you asked for, but that the thing you asked for is the wrong thing for your business.

If you listen to The Web.Search.Social Marketing Podcast then you know that from my perspective (and Carol Lynn’s), the core mission of online marketing is lead generation. Some hang me on the nuance that the objective should be sales and not just leads, but I can only bring the customers in. I can’t force them to buy your products or services. So for now I’m sticking with leads as the mission objective.

Is what you want leads? Then you need to say that. Because if you ask for good SEO, then you are going to get good SEO. Well, hopefully. If you want to hang me on yet another nuance and say that good SEO should result in leads then you should be listening to The Web.Search.Social Marketing Podcast because we spend a lot of time talking about why that might not be the case. I’m not going to get into it here because…

What’s that? You want me to get into it?

Ok. Fine.

So here’s the deal with SEO – and practically speaking with a lot of other disciplines in online marketing: when you hire an SEO company that explicitly specializes in getting you ranked well for keywords, they may sometimes overlook the fact that those keywords may be insignificant in the pursuit of leads. On the flip side, the content that SEO companies create is often geared towards consumption by search robots and not by humans. As a result, robots eat it up and humans don’t take action.

A good SEO company won’t do this. In fact, I argue that a good SEO company would balk at being called an SEO company at all, but that’s another matter.

The point is both you and your vendor need to know what you want and come to a consensus on how that will happen and how much it will cost.

Another of our recent clients was a total rockstar when you typed in any combination of keywords related to their business. Run a search… Boom! There they were. Run another… Boom! There they were again. It was like their business exploded an AwesomeBomb on Google’s first page results.

But when you took a look at their stats, they were generating roughly 3 or 4 unique visits a day and generating no leads.

That’s where the boom becomes the fizzle.

So here’s what I ask of you. Treat any marketing related to search engines like a piece of your marketing puzzle and not like a religion. I promise you that the folks over at Google aren’t talking about your business as much as your business is talking about Google.

Google does not awesome marketing make. You can take that to the bank. Unless you don’t generate leads. In which case you won’t be taking too many trips to the bank.

The best kind of marketing is the kind that concludes with a check and not one that ends on the first position in Google.

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera