It pains me to share that I’ve seen some horrendous SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices out here in the real world.
SEO has become the new snake oil as so-called “experts” peddle their wares to unsuspecting business owners. I got clients who, before they started working with me, paid way too much money on SEO for very little in the way of few results. So here is my advice, as of 2019, for what you should know and expect from SEO.
SEO won’t save a bad website
No matter how much you spend on SEO, it won’t make up for bad website design and practices. If, for example, you have a “free” website on one of the build-your-own platforms, you can get some good SEO hints and advice from their widgets. However, they won’t save you from creating a bad website, when it comes to what Google uses to rank on search engine results.
What’s a bad website? One example is a website that is full of splashy videos and images. Google doesn’t read images. Let me repeat that: Google doesn’t care if you have the most beautiful, sexy, awe-inspiring videos – especially if they take forever to load.
Why? Because very few people have the patience to wait for your gorgeous videos to load on their mobile devices (read: phones), and you get dinged by Google for long load times, especially if people click on your website and they leave in a few seconds, frustrated that it hasn’t loaded on their phones.
That’s just one example a “bad” website design that all the SEO in the world can’t save. I’ve gone into more details in my 5 Point Checklists for the Best Performing Website.
SEO is the first step – but not the only step
Every website should be designed with SEO in mind. And good SEO practices should be continued on a monthly basis. But it’s not the one-and-only way to get people to your website. In fact, it’s becoming almost impossible to get traffic to your website without a range of other tactics.
And yet, I’ve heard from clients and others that they’re being “pitched” by SEO companies that they should spend thousands (yes, thousands) per month on SEO alone. The idea that all you need to do is SEO is just wrong. You need other tactics, too. Especially since Google is constantly changing how they rank search results. Take a look at what they’re doing now – serving up results you can read through a drop-down menu, so you don’t even have to click through the results to get an answer!
Anyone who tells you that your entire marketing budget should be spent on SEO is selling snake oil.
SEO is changing – all the time
What someone may have said three years ago in a YouTube video, or at a conference, could have changed dramatically. How people search and use the internet is a fluid process. For example, YouTube has been the second largest/most popular search platform, after Google, especially by younger demographics. Did you know that?
There are other “fun facts” to know about the ongoing changes in Search Engine Optimization. Here’s a great one I found today on SEO trends in 2019. These types of posts are being written and updated all the time, because the more you know about SEO, the more you know it’s a constantly moving and shifting target.
If you’re not going to spend the time to keep up with what’s going on (and most people are not), then find a trusted SEO specialist to do it for you. And ask them what they’re doing now that’s different from a year ago, or two years ago.
Find a Google Certified Expert
If you don’t want to spend the time keeping up with SEO (among all the other things you do in your day or business!), then find someone who will.
In choosing an SEO specialist, look for examples of how their work has changed and morphed for their clients, based on the changing Google priorities. Be sure to find someone who’s up-to-date or, better yet, make sure you’re working with a Google Certified Expert or Partner. Google now has special classes and certifications. Don’t be scammed by someone who says they know SEO. Trust me, I’ve seen some really bad practices from those who say they know and spew all sorts of SEO “theory”– but it’s clear they haven’t been out there, doing the work for clients, and being successful!
Ask to see the Google data
One of the best ways to see if you’re talking to real SEO expert is to ask if they have client data showing before and after website results.
This is something I do on a regular basis for my clients: I use Google Analytics to show them where their website traffic is now – or before we start to work together – and I show them, as we work, how their website traffic is shifting. SEO, as well as other marketing tactics, should show some results over time.
If the person or agency can’t show you data, indicating the real results they have created for their clients, why would you hire them (they can hide the client’s name!)? So, why would you spend that money, on a monthly basis?
It’s up to you to be informed enough about Search Engine Optimization to ask for examples of success and ongoing data analysis. If you ask for this up-front and you don’t get it, you probably won’t see it later, either. SEO is tough. It always has been and it’s only getting tougher. Unless you know what to look for and demand results, there’s a good chance someone can take advantage of your “not knowing”. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to me to talk about it.