Do I need SEO?

Do I need SEO?

These days, more and more I’m being asked to speak at various venues about search engine optimization or SEO. Unfortunately, SEO is actually really boring. SEO is the process of getting your Web page listed in Google or any of the various other search engines, including Microsoft’s new Bing. The actual process of doing SEO isn’t really all that interesting, so I ask them if they’re really sure they want me to talk about SEO?

Internet Marketing!

I believe that what people really want, is to hear about how to market their business on the Internet. After all, Google is what I call today’s “shopping mall of the world”. If your business doesn’t show up there, you don’t exist. 70% of all searches done on the Internet are done on Google.

It’s also a myth that just because you’re number 1 on Google for a specific key phrase, that you’re going to rake in the cash. It’s just not true. The #4 position in the search engine results page (SERP) may actually get a better click-through-rate (CTR) because their headline and description may actually be far more compelling than #1.

But let me back up a little.

There are lots of ways to get listed on Google:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Paid advertising (Pay Per Click or PPC)
  • Online news (press) releases
  • Blog pages
  • Optimized videos
  • Personal profiles
  • Social media such as MySpace or Twitter

Google serves these results up right alongside each other, all intermixed (except PPC). This is great, because maybe SEO isn’t the only answer. And the reality is that it’s not.

When Google serves up answers to whatever question you’ve asked of it, they want to give you the most relevant results they can based on the three or four words you’ve given it in a search request. In the fraction of a second that it takes Google to produce the SERP, it looks in its index of ALL content, and determines what should go at the top. It gives you back what its algorithms have determined are the most relevant for you, based on a lot of factors.

Here’s where the marketing part comes in. You as the Web designer or business owner who knows how to apply “SEO” to any of the tools listed above, needs to put some interest in your copy. You basically have two things you can list:

  • Your Title – about 65 characters (including spaces)
  • Your Description – about 165 characters (including spaces)

So in that very limited space of about 230 letters, numbers and spaces, you have to entice your customer with a compelling, mini-ad that says, “Click me! You’ll find your answer here!” There’s a lot of creativity you can use to apply to “SEO” to make your internet marketing copy really compelling.

It doesn’t stop there. Once the person clicks your internet marketing “ad”, they will land on your Web site. How compelling is that copy? Does it further entice them to read more or just hit them with a screaming advertisement? Look at your own copy and see if you are “marketing” or “advertising”. Then rethink it to see if you can make your Web site more of a tool for internet marketing. Then apply the boring ol’ SEO tools to make your internet marketing tool in gear.

Oh, by the way. If you’re interested in learning a lot more than boring ol’ SEO, our Bay Area hands-on workshops include SEO, internet marketing, keyword forensics, learning search behaviors, and a whole lot more.

Check it out.