Okay, today we are going to introduce to you one of our nearest and dearest friends. Well maybe that last part is not true, but I am going to introduce to someone we know very, very well.
Who is that person?
Well, that would be the ‘SEO cynic’.
What do they believe?
Basically - SEO is dead, was never relevant and they simply don’t need it at all.
Let’s see how a conversation between a true SEO cynic and an experienced SEO consultant might go.
“I once tried to get into SEO, I even went and hired an SEO agency and everything. But these people who I never even met simply took a large chunk of money (honestly way too much, in my humble opinion) and then didn’t do anything!
They mucked around on my site, added some keywords here and there and just went on and on about backlinks - and guess what? I only ended up falling in the rankings because of this. Seriously, I have no time for you people”.
“Harsh words! Okay, I acknowledge that unfortunately the one thing about the Internet that is perhaps not that great is that it can be harder and harder to sniff a rat. It’s undeniable that yes, there are lots of people out there who simply want to get what they can from you.
But, please, don’t judge the entire SEO industry on a couple of bad eggs. There are lots of us good guys out here, providing honest, transparent, SEO services, who truly want to help you advance and further your SEO.”
“Wel, that’s all well and good, but what exactly can you do for me? Can you promise to take my site to the top of Google’s SERPs when people search for any keyword relevant to my industry?”
*Laughs internally*. Ah, no. Unfortunately that’s not how SEO works. SEO is an ongoing process, all about making your site more user friendly, your content of higher quality and the technical elements of the website more streamlined and optimised. Only then do we look at improving your domain authority by ethically acquiring backlinks - sometimes by guest posting on blogs.
However, please don’t think that you can rank for every keyword. The brutal reality of SEO is that you just cannot get right to the top for everything you want. This is especially true in industries where the competition is very fierce - say life insurance etc.
But even something like ‘running shoes’ - you’re going to struggle to compete with major brands like Nike or even local businesses that sell shoes like Rebel Sport or Athlete’s Foot (if you’re a small, local business that is).
I know it sounds like it’s a lot of work, and, well, that’s kind of because it is!”
“Well, to be perfectly honest it is sounding more and more complicated by the minute. Why should I even bother to learn all of this stuff? After all, we’ve been running a local, family business that has been very successful - I might add - for over 20 years now. Why bother now?”
“This is actually something we hear almost all of the time! And, do you know what? It is kind of a fair enough criticism to level at SEO, or just digital marketing in general.
But, the thing is, and I think COVID has really hammered this home - the world is changing, and it's turning more and more to the digital sphere.
I am not at all discounting the importance of word of mouth, especially for local businesses that have an actual physical address - but don’t you want to scale your business to its ultimate heights?
Think about it this way - if new people move to your neighbourhood or are just visiting, chances are they are going to hit Google as well as listening to what people are saying. It is super important for a sustainable business model that you actually appear in the first page ofGoogle results - hardly anybody goes through to the second one.
Also, in the event of further lockdowns (or, and this hardly bears thinking about, but future global pandemics) it gets much harder to rely on the word of mouth business model alone.
Diversification is definitely the spice of a long-term business model.
The other thing to specify here is that there is a whole branch or section of SEO that focuses on local SEO. This is things like ensuring you appear in Google my Business - so your address and contact details are online and consistent. Having good reviews from customers, or even negative ones that you’ve responded well to is also very important.
Lastly, businesses who do really well can appear in the Google 3-Pack - the top 3 businesses which appear at the top of the page when users search a relevant term (usually with an area modifier.
“Wow, sounds like there is a lot more to SEO than I had previously thought. Any recommendations on who I should contact to get started with that local SEO?”
“Funny you should ask …”
And there you have it - just one way a conversation might play out between an SEO cynic and consultant.
I’m not sure whether I should stick to SEO work or move into the play-writing scene after that effort!