The SEO Myth

3 10 2008
Someone told me today about a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) service he was using. Being the God knows what time I’ve heard about this type of scam, I thought I’d write about it to prevent others from falling for it.

SEO is aimed at getting your website top ranking in the search engines, typically measured on Google Search. The assumption is that the higher your website appears in the search results, the more traffic it will get, the more sales or leads you will convert and the more dollars will make it into your pocket.

So shifty operators contact unsuspecting business owners or website owners and offer to get their websites a top search engine position at a surprisingly low cost. Sometimes, this cost seems even lower, but it must be paid on an ongoing basis.

“Wow”, thinks the website owner, “I’ve been struggling with this for so long, and here is an expert who does this for a living. Surely, my sales will skyrocket within days and I’ll be rich in no time”.

Unfortunately, this is not quite the way it happens. When the owner (let’s call him Jim) sits with the SEO expert (let’s call him Bob), Bob asks Jim to tell him about his website. Let’s say Jim runs a doorknob business called “Jim’s doorknobs” and lives in a small town called woopwoop. Bob suggest that the best thing to do is to get Jim the first position in Google for the keyword phrase “woopwoop doorknobs”, which Jim excitedly agrees to. Bob, stating he was going to give Jim great service by working with additional phrases, throws in the keyword phrases “jim’s doorknobs” and even “best doorknobs in woopwoop”.

Jim leaves Bob’s office all pumped up and patiently waits for the sales to start pouring in.

A month goes by and the sales are pretty much the same, so Jim rings Bob. “Great news!” says Bob, “Like I said, you’re number one for your keywords now. Google them now and you’ll see”.

Sure enough, Bob has delivered on his promise, and Jim’s doorknow website is now the first to appear for his 3 chosen keyword phrases, but he gets no business. “Bob”, he says, “Why am I not getting any sales?”

“Oh, this takes a bit of time to build up, because of the way the search engines work, you know. Give it another month or two and you’ll see”.

After 3 months, Jim starts to suspect that something is wrong, so he calls his friend Bruce, who knows a little about Internet marketing. As soon as Bruce hears the chosen keyword phrases, he says to Jim, “I think there may only be a handful of people looking for these. Being number one for a keyword phrase nobody looks for will make you proud, but not rich”.

So next time someone tells you they’ll put you at the top of the search results, ask them how many times they think people might be using this keyword phrase each day on the Internet. Anything over 300 is good. If the answer is “I don’t know”, run away fast.

Of course, the keyword phrases you choose must also be directly linked to the problems you solve, the solutions you provide or some unique aspect of your business, so that you get qualified traffic you can convert to sales.

Remember, you want to get more business online, not more traffic, not a higher position, not a higher page rank and so on. More business! That’s the only way to measure the success of your website.



Who Needs Internet Marketing (part 3)?

1 10 2008

By now, you know that the Internet is great for information products, as well as for offline products with a global appeal. So far, so good. But not every business sells standard products. Some businesses make their products to suit their clients’ needs. What about them?

Well, businesses that offer custom-made products can derive great benefits from using the Internet. You see, the Internet makes communication a whole lot easier than any other alternative, and a whole lot cheaper.

Say your company offers a product with many options: color, finish, size, embossed logo, etc. You could employ an army of specialized sales people, who could walk each new customer through the decision-making process in person or over the phone, or you could build a web site, which includes pictures, descriptive text, videos and even interactively-generated visual product images, which allow your prospects to try a few options, work out what’s best for them and then order or request a quotation without employing a single person on an ongoing basis.

Couple this with the ability to keep in touch with your clients via rich emails and informing them whenever you start offering more colors, bigger sizes and so on, and you will see that the Internet can give your business a huge boost in productivity and profitability.

It is true that sometimes, human interaction is required, because the client may need some expert advice in order to get it just right, but your website will screen those who would not buy, and would just waste your time and money, because they will quickly (and at no cost to you) find out what you cannot do for them. Those who choose to contact you can now receive your full attention, because by the time you contact them, you will already have a very good idea of what they need.

To summarize, if your business can benefit from getting complex custom-order inquiries, screening those who are unlikely to buy and saving a lot of time in your selling process, which you can translate to a much smaller sales team, look seriously into your online options and contact an Internet marketer as soon as you can.