Some thoughts about Search Engine Optimization (and what you can do about it)

How effective is SEO, really?

How important is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to your business? This seemingly simple question can?be a challenge to answer, and the concepts may seem abstract unless you’ve personally experienced SEO’s highs and lows.

I’ve seen both and can tell you this: If you have the good fortune for Google to rank you Number 1 on keyword combinations crucial to your business, you’ll notice the results, really powerfully.

If you lose that status, and your ranking drops down the page (and then off of page one), you’ll see something more subtle. The search inquiries and interest will decline precipitously and ultimately become insignificant.

In fact, studies indicate that every post below number one results in a painful decline in response (allowing for the anomaly that if you manage to be the bottom post on the first page, you’ll get a bit of a lift because of your end-point status.)

If you’ve never experienced the SEO high from top ranking success, you won’t really know what it feels like.

I have — and it is wonderful. For a few months several years ago, this blog had the coveted top spot. And I started receiving calls and even some paid consulting gigs. Then others, with more skill, quality, and understanding of the SEO process, started chipping away at the lead.

However, one of my company’s major regional construction news sites has managed to gain that top spot currently. I won’t name it here, for fear of jinxing?the results, but I can see a distinctively higher volume of subscription requests, advertising inquiries and AdSense advertising revenue from this site.

However, this news still leaves some challenging questions for anyone thinking about SEO.

First, partial success, while somewhat helpful, isn’t going to be mind-blowing. So you can spend a small fortune in effort and resources to perhaps get on the first page of Google, but you’ll probably see at most a minor business uplift unless you are really near the top of the page — and even then, your uplift may be because of factors that go far beyond SEO.

Second, getting to the top, especially if you are not currently in the running, is really a big and hard and uncertain challenge. It is kind of like trying to break from the minor leagues to the major leagues in sport — and then becoming the most valuable player on the major league team. Sure, it happens, and if you really have the talent and market placement, it makes sense to go for it. But, for most of us, is it realistic or simply a dream from a business perspective?

Third, you should appreciate that “getting to the top” is only part of the picture. You could achieve top ranking for certain keyword combinations, and they wouldn’t matter, either because potential clients don’t care, or because few people care about the keywords, or both.

Then, does this mean that SEO initiatives aren’t worth pursuing?

My answer is simple: Focus on the quality and content of your site, its relevance, and effectiveness in converting the visitors who come to your page to want to return and do business with you, rather than SEO mechanics. Nevertheless, you should still appreciate and apply some simple common-sense SEO approaches.

But be wary of anyone who promises SEO miracles, or suggests that SEO is the magic bullet for your business/traffic problems.

In light of these suggestions, I can recommend Corey Philip’s (of guide: SEO for Contractors: The Step By Step Guide.

While this free resource is written primarily for residential contractors, the basic rules apply to everyone:

Philip writes:

SEO is no pot of gold. I say that as many contractors I chat with have the misconception that you do some magical SEO tricks and ?poof? you get top rankings and business pours in for free. As you?ll see, that is not is the case. There are no magic tricks. And nothing happens quickly.

You might wonder ?is it even worth it to do SEO??

To answer that, you have to understand there?s Basically 3 Types of SEO. They are;

  • Google Local
  • Website Optimization.
  • Organic Rankings Through Content Marketing

As a contractor you should focus on Google Local (this is currently the best free marketing). ?Also make sure your website is optimized at lead make sure your on-site seo technicals are up to snuff.

From there, focus on content marketing, but not for the purpose of organic rankings. Make your content for real customers and to establish your position as an expert ? let the organic rankings be a byproduct.

Ultimately for quicker business, with more scalability, you would be better served focusing your efforts on Google Ads, or Facebook Ads.

I’m not going to push Google or Facebook ads — heck I should be pushing my own company’s advertising if I’m going to do anything like that — but I agree that some common-sense approaches to SEO make sense. You may hit the jackpot. Just don’t bet the farm on it.

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