In a life where I’ve questioned every single thing (ask my teachers, they hated me) up through my 40th year of existence (later this year; please don’t remind me), I think it’s funny that ultimately, I chose a field that sometimes is labeled “Snake Oil.” This isn’t a post that’s going to defend it per se, but definitely explain why even some people with media power even say it doesn’t work (frankly Dvorak probably wrote this piece so he could create a little buzz for himself which is part of the whole “snake oil” he thinks doesn’t work. The other interesting point is that he fails to even approve any comments on his column. So, instead, I just wrote a blog post that basically will serve as the comment. Hopefully, it should rise through the SERP for “seo fiascoes” since there’s no competition on it.
SEO isn’t snake oil, but there are snake oil dealers who do preach SEO as a cure all, a strategy that should work overnight and something that they fail to truly implement properly.
Obviously, the benefit of improving your website could be a boon to your business. If you’re able to do it through viral techniques, through email newsletters, through many other smart and innovative strategies, that’s awesome. SEO has worked very well for many companies and business and it’s why many succeed even though they fail to execute on the business side. So, preaching something that does all this is easy. The difficulty is making it happen. Like in Real Estate (which if you read my bio, you’ll know I did really well in and reached the #2 position in our office in terms of earnings in my first year), if you overhype something to a client and then under deliver, you’ll get burnt in the end. Your reputation will drop and so will your ability to be trusted. However, if you inform clients the “right information” from the beginning including lowering expectations and also properly educating them along the way, you’ll not only have a client who gets you your commission, but you’ll have possibly a friend for life. I have a number of them. (Hi Angie & Pete! Hi Rodney & Claire!)
SEO will NOT be your only source of website traffic. It has to be a part of your overall strategy. You have to think through the many funnels and hopefully, SEO will be able to help you fulfill each funnel properly. Like I mention in the rebuttal comment to Dvorak’s piece, maybe he should use PPC. Maybe YOU should use PPC? It’s debateable how much you want to pay and how much you want to be free, in terms of online marketing. You need to have offline marketing. You need to be trolling the streets. You need to be out there networking. You need to literally have a great overall marketing strategy ideally. However, SEO can be your friend and not something you get impatient about and fail with. I actually even did that myself the first time I was thinking about being an SEO consultant. I waited 3 months for things to turn around. (Sorry, but 3 months is NOT enough time for a competitive industry. I should of realized that given my history with Real Estate as well which took me about 5 months before it started to go very well. Then again, I had another reason why I couldn’t wait longer for the first time in SEO, but that’s a long story just like this long comment).
Most importantly, as I’ve learned from great people in the business, but SEO must be properly planned out and done correctly. Did you know that SEO can be a lot in “who you choose your battles with” vs. actually doing the battle? A secret and something that my business partner taught me is that he spends a LOT of time on keyword research and also uses some very interesting techniques to find the “sweet spots” and great opportunities on the Internet to exploit. It’s like finding an incredible piece of property everyone overlooked. He’s INCREDIBLE at finding these opportunities and taught me how to do it. It’s why he ranked over 30 different clients in his very short time in the business before going back to what he truly loves, teaching people how to play a musical instrument. (Yes, he went to one of the best Univ’s in the world, but just wants to teach people how to become better musicians and enjoy themselves and he has a huge line of people waiting to get lessons from him.)
After finding the opportunities, focusing on building quality links over time and having sometimes quality vendors execute some of the strategies because you can’t do everything is why you get quality results. Do you see how I’ve written “quality” over and over? In life, it’s critical you do things in a “qualitative” manner if you want “quality results.” It’s as simple as that.
So, just like any other field out there, you can be a snake oil salesman selling anything from cars to products for zoos. SEO is no different. However, it’s a “new fangled thing” that people want to try and unfortunately, there are some people out there who don’t know their SEO, but definitely can explain the incredible benefits of it. However, make sure that person explains how they work, what they do and what they will do for you. Use your best judgement, but feel free to ask me anytime how to judge them or what to ask them if you need. I don’t need everyone’s business and I’m happy to give a free hand anytime. Best of luck!