Last week I had lunch with a client who wanted to drive more traffic to an online form he put up. Bob’s* base URL is highly ranked but his customer registration form hardly gets any hits. So Bob paid a company specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a lot of money to promote his form. It didn’t work. So Bob paid another company specializing in SEO a lot more money to promote his form. It didn’t work either.
Bob pushed a third SEO proposal across the table for me to comment on. I wiped pizza grease on my jeans and took hold of the document. This third company wanted a fortune and they weren’t even promising to promote the form but rather just the base URL, which like I said, is already highly ranked.
Ridgefield One has its own SEO specialists we rely on. The thing is we don’t sell SEO as a service. We only provide Key Word testing and optimization of our own site, to the extent that that’s possible. The reason is because SEO is a sham. It’s like selling snake oil. You might call it Snake Engine Oil The “experts” that sell SEO will tell you their methods are “proprietary” and they can’t reveal how they do it. Mmm… tastes like Snake Oil.
The problem with SEO isn’t that it doesn’t work – it does – for a little while and under certain circumstances. The companies Bob got his quote from are good examples. A couple of them promised only to get his base URL on the first page of Google. They did not promise how long the site would be on the first page of Google nor which Key Words would put it at the top of the rankings. For example, the SEO guys might say that typing Group Insurance would bring up Bob’s site. But what if I typed Group Benefits or Company Insurance? Would those have the same results? Maybe. Maybe not. There are no promises.
What’s more is, as long as one of those combinations worked for one day, the SEO company could collect their fee. If Bob’s competition across the street paid their SEO guys to optimize their site the next day, they could come up first in searches and then Bob would have wasted all that money. It’s like the Star Belly Sneetches story.
Another factor working against SEO is the search engines themselves. The smart folks at Google know that people are constantly trying to manipulate the rankings, so they’re trying to stay a step ahead by constantly changing the algorithms used to rank sites. It’s a no-win game.
My advice is to forget about SEO. Indeed, one must register their website with a variety of local and national directories, use the right tags and site construction, etc. But once that’s done, it’s a waste of money to try to game the system. Rather, that money would be better spent on providing good content on the website or social media sites, which is really what people want when they go online. The success of Facebook is clear evidence of this.
This is why we created our Social Media Management (SMM) product. For less than the price of a dubious SEO contract, we’ll provide the content to update our clients’ Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Blogs with information their followers will be interested in.
What I really love about SMM is that it doesn’t leave our clients completely dependent upon us for their success. We enable them to add as much content as they want and even to take it over entirely when they feel we’ve gotten them some traction. Meanwhile, there’s no monkey business from a fix-it-up chappie with a “proprietary system” to improve sales. The content is tangible and remains with our client long after we’re out of the picture.
- David Marceau is the VP and co-founder of Ridgefield One
*Names changed to protect identity
Offering Staffing, Web Development, and Social Media Management for companies located in Fairfield, Connecticut and Westchester, New York.