In this final part of my conversation with Taylor Hill, we discuss the ROI of SEO, and what type of questions companies should ask when shopping for SEO services.
Jonathan Sanders: Why do you think people or companies have a tendency to cut costs in web/SEO work?
Taylor Hill: It’s human nature to not pursue what you don’t understand. Most people understand getting traffic, but they don’t get the work that has to be done or understand why it’s not an instant solution. SEO is no different then any other part of a business plan, it takes work and commitment to the process to see the change. Companies will spend big bucks to get 1 to 2% ROI (return on investment) with traditional marketing because they know what to expect and can count on the return pretty much every time. With the Internet, knowing search engines change the algorithms every time you turn around, you can be on top today (on the front page of an organic search) and 10 pages into the search tomorrow. I think this frustrates many companies and they either toughen up and pay for SEO, pay to learn it or they will eventually give up.
JS: What are some suggestions you have for people or companies who are about to look into SEO? What questions do they need to ask?
TH: Well, the very first question I would ask is this; can you tell me if anyone is looking for what I do? You would be amazed at how many people are trying to get business from areas that have little or no potential in the first place. If people aren’t looking for you or what you do, you are in trouble and no matter how much money you sink into the site it will be an uphill battle. Now I say this as a general rule as there are times when something brand new comes along and it breaks through.
I can also tell you what not to ask; is there a guarantee that this will put me on the front page? I could truthfully answer this question both yes and no. I can get people on the front page of Google in no time at all for keywords and phrases that will bring in some (little or no) traffic. I’ve actually seen SEO companies market phrases that they can get you to the front page. The problem with this is it’s smoke and mirrors. These are very low search phrases. You can read enough free SEO forums to do that yourself because it’s relatively easy. However, companies want returns on investment (ROI). If a company pays thousands and all they get are a couple of front page listings for a couple of long tail phrases, they will be disappointed. When you go for valued (high searched) keywords, normally, you are in a battle for position and it takes a lot of effort and time to get on the front page of an organic search. That translates into money or time or both, if you learn SEO yourself. Because it’s a battle, there are no guarantees for the main keywords and phrases. And that’s before you add in the unknown, which is the algorithm changes from the search engines. There is no way anyone can really give a guarantee for that.
What I believe to be the most valued question that every company or individual should ask is: do you understand ROI and if so, can you show me what SEO can do for my company’s ROI? If a company is not on the Internet to boost their ROI, why are are they spending money here? The first thing I would want to see from a SEO person or company is an analysis of my business on the web. A projection of sorts showing me what the potential is for my business model, whether that be ecommerce, leads or simply branding. You show me potential (or lack thereof) so I can make a good decision and I’ll always remember you! On my end, if you remember me as the guy who either saved you money by telling you it was a bad idea or helped you make money by showing you the potential; I’m either working for you now or will be soon.