How do you know who to trust when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? People act like it’s complicated, but it’s not.
Doing business online can be overwhelming at first, but it’s ultimately no different than any other type of commerce. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s and make sure you’re doing so in all areas of your business and you’re golden.
It’s like Accounting: there are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles – best practices that have been proven to produce results, and a wealth of resources to tell people how (Google GAAP and you’ll see what I mean).
Similarly, SEO on today’s Internet is no longer analogous to the dark ages of retail, when stores resembled flea markets, nobody had read Why We Buy, and the business of retail had no generally accepted principles or best practices.
Now, there’s an industry composed of professionals who can not only help you get good rankings on keywords and phrases that your customers are actually searching on, but know how to turn it into money.
The problem for most business owners is that there are also so many people telling you that they know how it’s done that it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
How can you tell if your so-called consultant knows what he or she is talking about, and isn’t just another huckster selling hot air and happy pills?
Numbers. Metrics. Money. Proof.
Trust, but verify.
The fact is, whoever’s doing your SEO should be able to provide you with hard data about the results.
All of the information is out there, it’s all track-able and graph-able and reports can be generated by third-party providers who are absolutely impartial when it comes to data. It’s their bread-and-butter, so they’re not going to juice the mix for anyone or they lose their reputations in a business where trust is everything. Most “Big Data on a cloud” services also provide other services, such as training and advertising placements.
So get your web team or consultant to help you define the metrics of success.
Then demand you receive them from objective third parties like Google, Quantcast, other corporations who live or die on data. Or check the tail end of this article for links to Open Source tools you can use to keep your data in-house yet still get a detailed analysis of your traffic.
Don’t let your web team cherry pick what you get to see in terms of analytics.
Demand access to the raw data even if they pitch you a summary. Of course, take the summary because frankly who’s got the time for that crap but guys like me? – but get the raw stuff too, just in case the numbers don’t add up when the “we’re awesome” pie charts start Frisbee-ing into your mailbox.
A lot of thought needs to go into what exactly to measure. Page rank isn’t everything.
It’s pretty easy to paint a rosy glow around a meaningless statistic while bleeding capital and doing no good for the client.
Most Web Developers even do it in good faith because they don’t know any better. They’re techs.
Even if they’re competent professionals, they don’t know your business until:
- they’ve taken the time to learn it,
- researched your competitors,
- listened to your take on things,
- given and received feedback,
- wrestled with how to provide adequate value within your budget, and
- delivered a proposal that you not only like, but understand as an investment and not just another cost.
You need to keep an eye on all of that and make sure it’s happening.
Do NOT, under any circumstances, accept someone’s promise that they can get you to the top of page 1 on Google and Bing and keep you there indefinitely. They’re liars, plain and simple.
Or worse, they’re telling the truth, but the keywords you’re number one on won’t drive useful traffic your way and won’t bump your website’s bottom line into the black.
It’s simple, but it’s not that simple, or we’d all be Number 1.
Is everyone a winner? You tell me.
If you’re looking for the Internet’s equivalent to what Why We Buy did for retailers, grab the latest version, which includes an online component, and/or pick up Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads.
Then look for experts who can help you define SEO goals that make sense.
Find Web Developers who are willing and able to tie their approach to your bottom line. After all, you’re in business to get customers so you can make money, not billboards.
Since your success is their success, they should be focused on making sure their work pays off for you, not just on racking up billable hours.
SEO is only one component of a much bigger picture that includes your entire business.
If you’re not working with a savant, or a team of people whose leader takes the time to understand your business, and can not only design your site to complement it but also manage Content, Email, SEO, Social Media, Website Analytics, and related functionality so that they work in synergy to ensure ROI, you may as well hire your nephew to do it.
Or just go to a casino.
</end rant> 😉
Contact Broad Street Network today to kick start your online presence.
Some useful links:
- Piwik Demo – Free, open-source Web analytics
- Open Web Analytics – open source web analytics software
Big Data on a cloud:
- Flurry Analytics – proprietary but free to use, focused on monitoring mobile activity
- Google Analytics – probably the most well-known analytics tool – free from Google
- Quantcast – free for site owners, but also sells products for marketers and other specialized uses
These do not by any means represent even a fraction of the options, but are a few of the most well-known.
Postscript: Just in case you’ve got AdBlock turned on, turn it off for this page if you want to see Amazon links for the books I mention above.
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