I get many calls from clients asking me about various companies claiming they can optimize their websites and guarantee first page placement on Google. After doing my usual research on these companies, I find reviews by unhappy customers who felt they paid a lot of money for less than stellar results. One unhappy customer does not make the company bad. But this exercise got me wondering about why so many of these SEO and PPC companies have so many complaints posted all over the Web?
SEO and PPC are Not Commodity Products
Companies that call small business owners trying to sell them their software to manage their SEO and PPC activities are trying to treat Search Engine Marketing as a commodity – a one size fits all so to speak. This is absolutely not the case and most likely the wrong business model for success.
Search engine marketing strategy is unique for each small business. It takes a deep understanding of their business, their customers and what they are trying to accomplish with their online marketing. It takes creating relevant content that appeals to their prospects and attracts them to their Website. And, what works for one company may not necessarily work for another.
Are there common elements to setting up search engine optimization or a pay-per-click advertising campaign? Absolutely. But what is a common exercise is just a piece of the search engine marketing puzzle.
Take Ownership for Your Online Marketing Success
The following will help you get the most out of your online marketing effort.
- Remember that search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns and social media activities are all marketing activities. If you are looking for someone to help you, make sure these people understand basic marketing principals. The technology is a tool – the means to an end – not the end itself. Those who spew technical jargon to confuse you should be suspect.
- Find someone with whom you can develop a long term relationship. This doesn’t mean hiring a consultant on a retainer, but it does mean having someone you can call and pay to help you when you need it.
- Understand that search engine marketing requires a long-term commitment by you to make it work for you. Your site will get better rankings in search engines if you write content regularly, keep your social media outposts updated and active and you monitor your progress and understand what works and what does not.
- Hire a company that requires they take over your website, makes a copy of your website, replaces your phone number with theirs (to track phone calls as well as clicks) or transfers your domain to their control! Your domain name, website and content are assets of your company and you need to remain in control of your assets and your brand.
- Respond to emails that say they can optimize your site and guarantee that they can get your site on the first page of Google. If you notice, all the emails say the same thing exactly – they just get sent from different fake email accounts. These hopefully go into your SPAM folder and should stay there.
- Believe any sales call that claims that their SEO software can get your site top rankings ever will. Although it may work for some small businesses depending on where they are located and how competitive their industry is, most small businesses in and around major cities or in very competitive fields (like plumbing, remodeling or roofing) will never achieve their claimed results. Find someone who can help you with your overall marketing effort to differentiate yourself from your competition.
And although most small businesses may not need the $500 – $1000 per hour SEO consultant, you should plan to invest in someone who can help you do it right. At this point there are too many horror stories of small businesses being scammed out of a lot of money, time and visibility on the Web to not take this seriously.
What do you think? Can SEO and PPC be automated with software and become a commodity?