SEOOne Size Does Not Fit All
“I’m spending $500 a month with some SEO company, and I have no idea if it’s helping my business.”
Do you ever feel like that? Based on the phone calls and emails we receive we can tell you you’re not alone.
Some SEO (search engine optimization) companies provide impressive looking charts and graphs of results. Those results can only help a business if they are scoring for the right, updated search terms. Being #1 on Google listings for “Bug Spraying Akron, OH” is useless if the phrases people are really searching for are “Exterminator Akron OH” or “Pest Control Akron OH.”
SEO companies often neglect to optimize key website content which Google evaluates for rankings. You can analyze your site with a number of tools online like Neil Patel’s Seo Analyzer.
Here are five key questions to help you evaluate what role SEO should play in your marketing plan.
1. How do potential customers search for your type of business?
You can find this out for free by looking at your Google Analytics data. You can also look at Google Trends, Google Adwords Keyword Planner or industry data. If there is low or no search traffic for your business type, SEO shouldn’t be an expensive part of your marketing strategy.
By Google Search
If potential customers mostly use Google search to find businesses like yours, make sure your SEO company optimizes your site content. Page titles, descriptions, heading text, internal links, image data should all be populated with current keywords or phrases. Your SEO company or web developer needs to ensure the site is optimized for mobile devices and uses SSL secure browsing (changing your address from http:// to https://). Google now gives preferential ranking to sites which meet both those standards.
If your new customers come mostly from referrals then you should cover the SEO basics, but consider focusing more on social media strategy and/or soliciting reviews from highly satisfied customers on Google and social media.
On Social Media or Apps
If your market research shows new customers predominantly use social media or apps, you’ll want to cover SEO basics but invest more in reaching them where they are at with content and / or advertising.
Other marketing methods like e-newsletters or direct mail may have a much higher return on investment than SEO.
2. Do you have many competitors?
If so, quality SEO can give your business an edge or might even be essential. For instance, a lawn mowing business will need to spend more on SEO to be competitive locally than a specialty chocolate shop. Don’t forget to solicit good reviews to stand out from competitors.
3. What are your competitors doing with SEO?
It’s common for businesses to have multiple competitors in the same area. It’s important to analyze competitor websites to see what they are doing with SEO. If they aren’t doing much, we advise a very conservative, grow-as-you-need-to SEO approach. If they are investing in SEO it does not mean they are making a good return on their investment. Verify search traffic for their keywords an phrases through your Google Analytics data, Google Trends, and Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
4. Where is your business located?
The top Google result (after any pay-per-click ads) is usually a map showing the closest relevant businesses. If your business address is located away from or outside the target geographic area you are at a disadvantage. If SEO is a big part of your marketing strategy the best you can hope for is a listing below the map.
5. Is your business in a category popular with paid listing services?
That’s unfortunate because after any pay-per-click ads at the top, the Google Map, followed by entries for paid listing services (HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, etc.) there is limited room left on the first page of Google search results for your listing to appear. Most people do not search beyond the first few results on the first page of results.
One of our clients reports advertising on the listing services is expensive and the generated leads weren’t ideal clients. In this scenario we recommend a creative campaign through social media, soliciting reviews, direct mail and/or pay per click advertising instead.