When NOT to Use SEO

A large part of our business is conducting professional Search Engine Optimization services for small and medium-sized businesses. So you might be surprised to learn that we talk ourselves out of more SEO projects than not. Or, more accurately, we talk our clients out of doing SEO.

Many people see, hear and read about various SEO success stories from friends, colleagues and business associates and think, “Hey, sounds great. How can I use that for MY business?”

The problem with SEO, probably more than any other Internet marketing tactic, is that it’s often the wrong tool for the job. No matter how bad you WANT it to be the answer to your problems and help you increase sales it’s just not not going to cut it.

So to help you evaluate whether SEO can be part of your well-rounded Internet marketing strategy, here’s 5 reasons why SEO will NOT help you”

1. You Have a Made Up Product: The whole foundation of SEO is to position your webpages to be the answer to the question regarding relevant searches. If the product or service you offer is something so unique or made up, you can’t leverage SEO for the simple reason that nobody knows to search for it. Case in point was a company that came to us to implement an SEO program for “Dog Wine.” The problem is two-fold: Wine is actually bad for your dog so nobody would be looking for those keywords together unless maybe it was for “Dog wine poisoning.” Secondly, the product wasn’t actually wine at all but a type of gravy commonly sold to spruce up kibble. So while the product was real and perfectly OK to feed your dog, the association between the made up product category (dog wine) and the actual product (a kibble additive commonly referred to as “dog gravy”) was beyond the scope of SEO. A better marketing solution that we suggested was a trade PR campaign combined with blogger reviews since the product needed explaining in order to “get it.”

2. Low Search Volume: The biggest issue we find is that the keyword phrases associated with the company’s products and services are in low demand. Nobody wants to hear that what they’re selling is not in demand or the greatest thing since sliced bread. SEO exposes weaknesses in branding and product positioning. Sometimes SEO is considered a panacea for a weak product offering or non-existing branding campaign. SEO can’t perform magic, and certainly can not create demand where little or none exists. SEO works best when you have a product or service with well-articulated BENEFITS to the person doing the search, since most searches start with “How do I… ” or “How to… ” Be the answer to that question assuming it’s even being asked. Our keyword research will expose those weaknesses right away.

3. No Supporting Efforts: Search Engine Optimization has become increasingly complex in that one-time efforts, while still important, aren’t enough to sustain any short term success. And with the rising importance of social media’s impact on SEO, businesses will need to invest in ongoing social media efforts to boost their baseline SEO results since all the major search engines have gone on record that social media signals going in and out of a website are a validation of that site’s authorityon a particular subject (and set of keywords). So to invest in SEO is really a baseline step that needs to be reinforced with social media marketing and content marketing and blogging on an ongoing basis.

4. Website Design is Not Set Up For SEO: While a website’s layout can be changed, this can often lead to additional costs in order to change the layout of the website to make it SEO ready. For instance, the number one problem is when all products and services are listed on a single page. In order to perform proper SEO, each product or service must have it’s own page since proper onsite SEO requires unique META tags, Title tags, keywords, etc. Another hurdle is when clients have Flash-heavy websites or resist placing actual text and words on the site preferring mostly pictures. SEO is about content, mainly text.

5. Need Results Immediately: And as you probably suspect, SEO can take time to take effect. In fact, the very nature of GOOD SEO practices is to try and mimic organic linking and social media activity in as natural means as possible. That means slowly, and gradually. And even then, it can take the search engines weeks and even months to index your site and move it up in the rankings – if at all! So if you have a special event or you’re planning a product roll out or other timely event, SEO isn’t going to be your ticket to the top. You’ll be better implementing a Pay Per Click advertising campaign or maybe an email marketing campaign combined with social media to make things happen on YOUR schedule.

Taking these 5 tips into consideration, SEO can be a very powerful tool in your Internet marketing arsenal. But it’s not the end-all be-all.

Gene Sower, president of SamsonMedia.net, is an SEO expert, speaker and Internet marketing professional. If you want the answers to “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About SEO (but were afraid to ask)” you can get your free ebook and video tutorials at http://samsonmedia-seo.com

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