We get it.
SEO is difficult to grasp, time consuming to implement and takes longer than eternity to produce results.
Despite all of that being more-or-less accurate, it is still one of the most important elements – if not the single most important element – of any digital marketing plan.
Achieving and holding on to the top spots in Google can produce untold benefits to your company, both as a branding signal and to your revenue stream.
So, while it’s not entirely surprising that some companies still shy away from this monumental undertaking, it is perhaps a little startling that, when you really look into them, the reasons for doing so don’t exactly stand up to scrutiny.
It Costs Too Much
While it’s true that SEO expertise are not inexpensive (unless you specifically hire the cheapest help available, in which case you’re likely to get monkeys in exchange for the peanuts you stumped up) SEO should be considered a long-term investment in your company.
Let’s put it this way:
When you started your new company, you made sure you had a computer to work on and an internet connection available to you.
You didn’t think, “Well, I can probably get by with paper, pencil and the yellow pages”. And if you did, we’re very impressed that you managed to find our website using such means!
Having a computer and access to the internet (among a few other elements) are considered within the cost of doing business. SEO should fall into this same category. It a basic requirement of selling your product or services online so that your company can generate a revenue.
You may not need to have an engaging, or even an active, social media presence. You may not have the budget available for paid advertising. You may not consider A/B testing and conversion rate optimisation to be worthy of your time right now.
But if you have designs on selling anything at all, you need a presence on the internet.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the world and customer services that are second-to-none, if nobody knows about you, nobody’s going to buy from you.
And when it comes to having an online presence, showing up on a Google results page is the most fundamental way to make your business visible to potential customers.
It’s Too Late for Us to Get Started
The scenario here generally looks like this:
- You head over to Google and start pounding away at your keyboard, popping into the search bar all of the relevant keywords you can think of
- You see a whole host of website with great looking pages appear on the results page. None of them are yours.
- Not only are these pages very good, they also belong to your biggest and most established competitors. Nightmare.
- You think to yourself “How, in a million years of trying, could we possibly wish to catch-up with these guys? Let alone overtake them! They’re bigger than us and they’ve had a head-start (which potentially started years ago)”
- You conclude that SEO is not for you, close the lid on your laptop and pace the room thinking of ‘creative’ ways you can best the other companies in your niche
And, to be fair, we can understand this immediate lurch to catastrophise the situation. But it’s not all doom-and-gloom.
There are a number of things that play into your hands in such a scenario.
Firstly, Google can be a volatile wench and with all of the multiple yearly algorithm updates (most small, but one or two of a significant nature) you just never know when this will unpredictably have a negative effect on your competitor’s site and their rankings.
If an algorithm update were to hit and your competitor is affected, leading to their pages plummeting down the rankings, you’ll be kicking yourself if you haven’t begun SEO efforts of your own to capitalise on the situation.
More recently, Google has placed greater emphasis on a variety of different, let’s call them sub-sections, of SEO.
RankBrain, for example, pays a large amount of attention on User Interface and User Experience (UX). So just because a company has been at the SEO game for years already, that doesn’t mean their site meets these newer standards.
If you were to make improvements to your site that haven’t yet been addressed by others, you may be able to get a jump on your competitors.
Mobile-first index is another more recent development, meaning Google now pays more attention to the mobile version of your site than the desktop version. If your competitors’ sites are old, they may not necessarily by responsive and so do not cater to mobile device displays, therefore offering you another opportunity to take advantage.
And if you operate in a smaller catchment area, where big-name players don’t generally operate, utilising the benefits of local SEO is fantastic way for you to drum-up new business and expand the reach of your brand in your local area without even worrying about taking on the Nikes, Amazons, and Apples of this world.
And that’s without even mentioning the openings offered by video (YouTube is, after all, the second most popular search engine after Google) and Voice search, which is growing exponentially and promises to continue its upward trend for years to come.
To assume that it’s too late to get into SEO, therefore, is nothing short of nonsense.
The SEO ‘Rules’ Change Too Often
To look at it one way:
The basics of SEO have remained largely unchanged for the past few years.
If you have a good website that provides valuable and relevant content to your users, then you’re doing most things correctly. Add in a solid backlink acquisition strategy and you’ll be doing a lot more than the vast majority of the sites found anywhere on the internet.
Having said that:
Yes, it is true that Google does make a multitude of algorithm updates every single year, so staying on top of things and being aware of these subtle changes can be remarkably tricky.
It’s for that reason that the hiring of a dedicated SEO team is recommended, because they’re able to spend all of their time keeping abreast of such developments.
SEO is a long-term strategy where concerted efforts are made day after day, month after month, year after year. So, while algorithm updates can throw the occasional spanner in the works, if you invest in an ongoing SEO strategy, these can be navigated rather than them leading to chaos and disaster.
And as mentioned above, these changes impact your competitors as much as they do your own site, so there are advantages to be taken if Google introduces a change that negatively impacts upon their sites, if you’re willing to look for them.
It Takes Too Long to See Results
It’s hard to argue with the fact that SEO takes its sweet time to kick in.
Google literally has over a billion websites to crawl and index and re-crawl, so it takes a little while for them to get around to each one.
That’s why the changes you implement can take as long as 60 – 90 days to reflect in the Google search index. And then, if that change didn’t have the positive impact you were hoping for, reverting to the previous version can take just as long.
This, without question, makes SEO a painstaking challenge.
But let us not forget that Google does this quite purposefully.
Imagine the bedlam that would ensue if the changes you made today meant your site leapt from page 6 to page 1 tomorrow.
Everyone would be making wholesale changes every single day, copying the things that worked for others and the results pages would display such a random mishmash of websites from one day to the next that the results wouldn’t be reliable at all.
People would essentially stop trying to make great websites and would instead focus their attentions solely on copying the methods that worked (much like the internet of the old days), leading to the online experience as a whole being a much less reliable source of info than we’re used to.
So yes, SEO does take a long time to get right, but that’s exactly the way it should be. Otherwise, a whole host of terrible sites would show up on page 1, and you’d be none-the-wiser for having executed a search in the first place.
In other words:
Don’t view the long-term necessities of SEO as a negative; instead, be reassured by the fact that doing things properly, building a website people enjoy visiting and providing content that is both engaging and useful, will mean your slow march to the front page will place you among other elite sites and not a collection of scheming shysters.
It’s Difficult to Measure ROI
We’ve heard this excuse many times before, but we just don’t see the basis for it.
SEO is perhaps one of the most easily measured and data-driven elements of any digital marketing plan, so it’s more likely the lack of knowledge in how you should be measuring your efforts, rather than it being difficult to measure them at all.
Knowing why you’ve begun an SEO strategy in the first place will help you measure how effective it is.
Are you hoping to move the pages of your website up the Google ranks because you want more traffic to visit your site? Or do you simply want to have front page status because you feel that matches your brand as being page 1 material; one of the best!
If you’re looking for SEO as a way to establish and strengthen your brand, then you should be measuring very different KPIs than if you were looking to increase traffic to your site in order to boost sales.
Once you’ve clearly identified your goals, setting up a tracking system and monitoring the metrics that determine the effectiveness, or lack thereof, should be a walk in the park.
We Don’t Know Where to Start
SEO has become such a broad term that it can indeed be difficult to work out where to start.
And once you start doing some background reading on the subject, it’s not uncommon to find yourself overwhelmed, not only by the number of elements involved, but also the dedication required to addressing them on an ongoing basis.
As mentioned several times already, SEO takes time to realise any meaningful results, so settle in for the long-haul. There’s no quick-fix and there’s no sure-fire formula that you can apply which is guaranteed to work.
But a simple way of thinking of it is as follows:
On-Page and Technical SEO
If you’re site isn’t set-up correctly to follow all of the ‘rules’ laid out by Google, then any other types of SEO efforts may very well be in vein. On-page SEO refers to things like keyword targeting, titles, meta descriptions, URL structure etc. And the technical side of SEO is littered with confusing vernacular such as canonical URL tags, XML sitemaps, structured data markup and provides an abundance of opportunities for you to break your site!
But it’s also critical to get right. If you think of reaching Google’s front page as winning the lottery, the correct technical SEO set-up is the equivalent of buying the ticket. If you haven’t done it, Google probably won’t even consider you.
The Big Three
Google doesn’t make many elements of their ranking factors public, but they have said that their top three considerations are: Content, Backlinks and RankBrain (though in what order, we’re not quite sure).
So, once you’ve got your technical ducks in order, this is what you should switch your attention to.
- Creating great content
- Publish it onto a page (and a website) that is designed and optimised with RankBrain in mind
- Build backlinks to it
In addition to these elements, other considerations with varying levels of SEO impact include off-page SEO, social media engagement (as a method of funneling traffic to your site), creating video content, exploration of voice search, addressing your branding as a ranking signal and so on.
It’s Too Time-Consuming a Task
All of the above can make SEO seem like a particularly daunting prospect.
But to steer clear of such an obvious source of improvements to your company, as well as potential customers, simply because you don’t have the time to fit it in seems like a pretty weak excuse.
Taking the time to learn and then implement the various elements of an SEO strategy is something that will pay dividends to your company – and any future endeavours – for years to come.
But if you simply don’t have the time available to execute SEO improvements in your own day-to-day exertions, we would strongly recommend you acquiring the services of a specialised team who can do precisely that.
Do you think we adequately covered all of the reasons people choose to avoid implementing an SEO strategy as part of their overall digital marketing plan? And have we been able to convince you that SEO is worthy of your time and dedication?
Get in touch if you’d like to know more.