SEO The Snake Oil of the 21st Century, Except It Works…Sort of



You built a website, with great content, your pictures look great and you have a great logo. So the clicks should be multiplying like rabbits that were just dosed with Viagra in spring right? Well, maybe? Did you structure your content to be SEO Friendly? Oh, well read on then.

The internet has become less of an information highway and more of a screaming match. It is filled with products, and information (Sadly people google less for the “Who is the President of Paraguay?” And more for “Pink Pumps Tallulah, La” ).  We are hampered with getting our voices heard above our competitors.

SEO is a valuable service, and definitely necessary for a website to be found on the ever-expanding internet, it is the snake oil of the 21st century, that actually works.  I don’t call SEO snake oil because it is a scam, just because it is an ambiguous popularity contest where the rules change constantly and  just a necessary evil.

There are a lot of duplicate businesses on the internet and SEO is the difference that gets to appear on the first page and to appear on the 10th. The difference could be as minor as Jack spent a thousand dollars for SEO services and Jill just put up a site without SEO tags or structuring her content. Adversely Jack and Jill could be on the same page because there aren’t many bottlecap businesses. Jack could be at the top because he didn’t spend thousands and just performed the basic due diligence of making his site SEO friendly and Jane not at all.  If there aren’t many businesses in your niche then the advanced SEO services I mentioned aren’t that necessary. SEO is like a nuclear arms race, whatever your spending your competitor is either matching or spending more.

Your SEO guru is going to push for these advanced services regardless of if you need it. Keep in mind these people are trying to make a sale whether you need it or not.  And technically you might, if you want the first page of google or Bing for your subject it’s a necessity. Obviously making a profit is the objective of every business, offering another service is the logical end to those means. I won’t push a service that isn’t one hundred percent necessary. For instance, if you have an ecommerce site it’s a must. You have to be the first site seen when someone is looking for your widgets or bottle caps. Really you need those clicks to turn into sales, and the sales to turn into comments, and more sales, and so on and so on until you’re getting an accountant and retiring your H&R block guy. But it starts with the clicks, and the click throughs, and of course the questions, and the emails. Additionally, if you are in the service industry you need those clicks. That site is your resume, the samples of your work, the text content that details your years of service and prices, and getting found is the first step. However, depending on your category you may be fine.

Your category may be so small that you are on the first page anyway. Someone who is looking for shoes in a small town may google shoe store Smallville, and that shoe store will be the only one that comes up. Obviously, a small-town citizen knows where the only shoe store is this is just an example, but the point is your category may preclude the need for extra work for that search engine find. That isn’t to say that maybe you don’t want to just be found when someone is searching for shoes anywhere. You definitely want to be found in surrounding areas.  But you probably won’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars in desperation to get your site found. When you get that site up and running,  get a webmaster account with Google and Bing. Check the search analytics for a few weeks to see where your ranking at. Find out how many impressions you get, clicks you get, look at the mini glossary below to see what those mean. But before you do, also please research Adwords. Google Adwords is a service offered by Google, Bing, and some other search engines that guarantees your site comes up first when searched for certain words. I won’t discuss the process and the bidding procedures but the gist is someone looks for “shoes-Harvey Lousiana” your site will come up at the top of Google as an ad. When someone clicks this ad you pay $5 or more, usually just $5 and they go to your site. You’re paying that $5 whether or not they purchase anything, visit your store, or even call you. Really Ad words are great for situations where you have money to burn and just want to be on the first page of Bing or Google quickly. The more you’re clicked the higher up you climb.

Adwords are great and they have their place, but, they aren’t the dragonslayer that many SEO specialists claim it is. It definitely works, you get visits. Visits can turn into sales, but not every visit will do so. And keep in mind, there is an extra incentive to get you started on adwords. Google for instance, requires a certain number of adwords sales before allowing someone to be “Google Certified” which really just means you took a test, answered some questions, and registered the required number of people with adwords.