I’ve worked with most of the major SEO firms and have attended many, many presentations, seminars, conferences and staff meetings about search engine optimization. I’ve heard from almost everyone that SEO is the ‘secret sauce’ of audience development. It is actionable, quantifiable, and other *able things.
And like most consulting fads (mobile, say hello to social! Let’s all meet agile!), SEO is the perfect admixture — about 15 percent real and 85 percent voodoo.
Let’s focus for a minute on what is real (at least for now):
- Incoming clicks from search engines should make up a substantial portion of your traffic
- Almost no one goes beyond the first page of search results
- The majority of clicks go to the first three links on the first page
Okay, getting on the top of the first page in Google is really, really important. How can I do that?
Actually, the truth is that no one — not even the guys at Google — can tell you with certainty how to capture the top spots (except buying them). Search algorithms have become too complicated and too personalized to offer a single concrete answer. The Googlers will say, however, that if you over-optimize your site or ‘cheat,’ you’ll be severely penalized.
To summarize: Your company’s survival may depend on SEO, no one really knows how to do it, and if you do it wrong you’ll be banned.
Gotcha! Now you are swimming in snake oil. Or, as they say in the SEO business: “Simply cut me a check and don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”
I’m not saying that there aren’t lots of reputable, hard-working SEO experts out there. What I’m saying is that 99% of the facts on SEO are free and publicly available. And, until you’ve implemented basic, common sense SEO practices across your organization, don’t waste your money.
Next: How Search Engines Work