If you are only using a website with search engine optimization or SEO to get business, you may as well close up shop!

You wouldn’t plant seeds in a garden and hope that they’ll grow. You know that you have to work on your garden to keep it healthy, which doesn’t mean only watering, you must fertilize, pull weeds and protect it from insects. Think of SEO in light of your garden—it is one tool in an entire bag of marketing tools that you’ll need to grow and sustain your business.

SEO is a complex evolving algorithm surrounding user behavior and content. For example Google uses over 200 ranking signals and the different types of algorithms range from 50 to 200.  Every day SEO experts wrangle to increase their clients’ search engine results page (SERP) rankings while Google algorithms continue to evolve organically and deliberately so that it almost seems as if the  giant search engine seems to be in charge of its own growth.

If that last paragraph seemed like geek gobbledygook, here is what you really need to know. No matter who is developing your SEO for you or how current and competent that expert is no amount SEO will guarantee that users will choose you over any of your competitors.

Let’s go back to that garden of yours. You’ve become a very competent gardener and you decide that you want to start a business doing landscape gardening. You set up a website and hire an expert who optimizes your website. Now you sit back and the calls start rolling in, right? You already know that the answer is no. Why is that?  Let’s try a Google search. I’ve decided that I need a new landscape in my back yard. I type ‘Albuquerque landscapers’ in the Google search, here’s what happens:

  1. Right away, I don’t see your listing, even if you are at the top of the SERP rankings. Instead, when the page pops up, two to three (relevant) ads and a local map with an accompanying list of “Places” that may include as many as 10 locations head the page. Under all of that, I’d finally find the local landscapers’ website listings. Today, even top website listings often land “under the fold” which means you have to scroll to get to them. How do you compete with this?
  2.  Now that I’ve found the list, what makes me decide to choose your link over others? You have room for a few words in your description, how do you make yourself stand out?
  3. I decide to click your link and head over to your site. Here is where I am going to decide whether or not to call you. What do you have on your site and how will it influence how I feel about your ability to give me what I’m looking for?
  4. AND, I am not going to stop at one site, I’m going to look at every site that catches my attention. I’m going to call the few that continue to hold my attention once I click through and I’m going to do comparisons. How do you compete—how are you different/better?
  5. Finally, suppose that I do call and hire you. This goes without saying, if am not happy with your product or service, no amount of SEO will bring me back.

What do you do? Is it even worth the time and money to worry about optimization? Yes, as long as it’s part of a complete marketing strategy and make sure to do what you say you’re going to do.

Incidentally, there is a new listing on Google and it’s above the right side ads; Google’s working very hard to increase its own social networking site, Google+.   “People and Pages on Google+” is a list that includes anyone who has used related keywords on their G+ account or business page. I found two listings on the results page for the Albuquerque landscapers search term. Interestingly, both were landscape photographers.

Come back again for more on this subject as I answer the questions I raised and help you understand exactly how to create a complete marketing strategy.

Until next time!