By Bill Hayward
Director, Communications & Public Relations
So in today’s world of smarter search engines that more effectively seek out and reward quality content, all is well, right? Not necessarily—at least not based on the work product I have seen from some SEO professionals. Here are some of the current problems.
1. Questionable keyword seeding is still with us. Granted, it’s a mistake to underestimate the importance of knowing the words and phrases people are searching within a topical domain, and matching content accordingly. But I still see work from those representing themselves as SEO experts that reads as if keywords were arbitrarily seeded without attention to the overall flow, context and, most importantly, accuracy of the content.
Questionable keyword seeding in body copy can still sometimes help push content toward the top. Some SEO practitioners still apparently believe in shortcuts, which may initially succeed. But there’s no getting around the potential negative consequences like higher “bounce rates” (users quickly abandoning a page after concluding that it is of questionable relevance or quality). High bounce rates may eventually harm rankings. Other negative consequences, especially in the long run, may include:
- Reduced likelihood of generating repeat visits from consumers
- Failure of your copy, if crammed with “keywords for keywords’ sake,” to garner rank-boosting inbound links or brand mentions (also known as “implied links”) from authoritative sites
2. Web marketing consultants focused solely on SEO may not bring in-depth subject matter expertise to the table. If you enlist the help of an SEO firm you may find that they have a considerable learning curve. Even worse, their operating margin may not support the time it takes to gain an in-depth understanding of your business or industry at all. The result may be a website that, although it meets needs at levels like keyword density and quantity of pages and postings, doesn’t resonate with your audience or motivate the actions you desire. If your content draws searchers who don’t find it useful, relevant, trustworthy or understandable, what good will it do in the long run?
3. Not every business has the budget, resources, or organizational priorities that support an SEO-centered approach to digital marketing that depends on quantity and frequency. It all depends on your business model. While virtually every business needs a Web presence, not every business model supports what it takes to have a website that has an organically high traffic draw from search.
If this describes the current situation (which could of course change) of your business, does it mean you can’t successfully include digital channels in your marketing? Absolutely not. Your efforts to build awareness and generate revenue may simply be more effectively supported through other tactics such as paid search (search-engine marketing, also known as SEM), paid social advertising, or online reputation management, possibly supplemented by offline tactics that draw traffic to your site. It all depends on a mix of factors like:
- The nature of your business, industry, and customer base
- Your current competitive position in the market
- The size, reach, and scope of your business
- The extent of your marketing budget and resources
Your needs, goals, and objectives should drive your strategy, and your budget should drive the mix of tactics you use.
Can you build a brand, generate revenue, and sustain a business with a marketing program that is based solely in SEO? The answer is “Yes,” especially for businesses centrally focused on e-commerce. But it is critical to understand that this approach to marketing is highly time-consuming and labor intensive. It depends on a high quantity of frequently updated, quality content across multiple online channels. If your resources and/or priorities don’t currently support that, SEO can still be one component of your marketing program. But you will also need a presence in other marketing channels.
Issues like these point to the value that a full-service marketing firm, with existing subject-matter expertise in your industry or the ability to acquire it, can bring to the table. A firm like Marketing Works can be your SEO partner or help you manage an existing SEO relationship to assure that your SEO effort is fully aligned with your business needs—ideally in the context of a comprehensive, strategy-driven marketing program that integrates not only SEO but multiple digital and offline channels to drive customers your way.