SEO is an amazing marketing tool for small businesses. I’ve seen us manage SEO campaigns that have brought businesses from nearly zero online revenue to four and five figures per month. But at the same time, I’ve seen businesses with very weak overall business models not fair so well with their SEO campaigns.
It’s important to remember that SEO is a great tool to drive visitors to your website, but it isn’t the golden bullet that so many are looking for. When it comes to marketing, diversity is extremely important, and nearly all our successful SEO campaigns are with companies who understand they need to do other forms of marketing as well. Some opt for PPC, coupons, daily deals, email marketing, radio commercials, and other media forms, but nearly all of them advertise on top of their SEO campaigns.
It isn’t so much that SEO can’t deliver results, because it certainly can and does, but it’s all about diversity and having a plan that works. Let’s start out with diversity — investors diversify to minimize risk, and so should business owners. You never want to have all your eggs in one basket, and so is the case with marketing as well. It’s important to gain different types of customers from different sources, and allocate your funds into the sources that deliver the best ROI and most new customers. SEO typically is the number one marketing medium available for small businesses, and many businesses allocate 50+% of their marketing budgets to SEO, but very rarely do I even suggest allocating 100% of your budget to SEO, especially since SEO is a medium to long term business strategy.
The second issue is having a plan and model that works. If your business is currently doing terrible because your product/service is inferior, your customer service is lacking, your website is unusable, or your pricing is out of wack, there’s very little that SEO can do to help you. We can help you as marketing consultants and business consultants to help clean up the issues with your business and give you our opinion as to what you’re doing wrong, but just driving more visitors to your website isn’t going to improve the other issues. I sometimes find myself watching Kitchen Nightmares on Fox, a show in which chef Gordon Ramsey goes to restaurants on the brink of bankruptcy to try and fix their issues, and 95% of these businesses are running some sort of marketing promotion, but ignoring the core issues which are overpriced menus, poor food quality, and substandard dining atmospheres. If Ramsey came in to work on their marketing plan and drive more people into the restaurant, it would still fail until they fix those issues, and it’s the same case when it comes to your business and SEO.
So remember, SEO shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy, and before you invest money into marketing you need to make sure you have a viable business plan and marketing plan in place. 90% of our SEO clients are doing great — they diversify, they have a quality business, and they are making good money — but 10% think SEO will be that miracle to pull their business out of ruins and in all honesty it’s those 10% that I dread working with because I know we’re going to have a difficult relationship as I tell them time and time again that even when we have them ranked in search results, they still aren’t looking at a long term business strategy that will work for them.