There have been a number of recent posts around selecting the right SEO clients. And I've certainly had my share of frustrations. Yet, one of the issues I often run into are potential clients who think SEO is the only marketing tactic they need to grow their business. This is just as difficult as a client who distrusts SEO.
When SEO won't work
Okay, SEO will always work but it won't always be the best way to grow your business. Too many start-ups seem to believe that they'll be able to drive massive amounts of traffic from Google. End of marketing plan.
The fact is SEO is but one part of an overall marketing plan. Sometimes it can be a very large part of the plan, particularly if you have a long-tail strategy. More often than not it's going to be a focused SEO effort on a handful of high value keywords. While this is a fine strategy it may not bring a lot of traffic right away.
SEO is not a 'just-add-water' solution
SEO is tougher than it looks, particularly if you're looking at optimizing a handful of competitive keywords. Sure, the basics are easy but the devil is in the details. Even when you're doing all the right things, it may take time to conquer the rankings for those keywords. Never mind the pesky keyword volume data that can provide a reality check on expected traffic.
Unlike skeptics, SEO converts have a distorted sense of the speed and effectiveness of SEO. While they don't understand the mechanics, they're sure that some expert can wave a magic wand and turn on the Google spigot.
The lure of SEO is, of course, that it's free. In some ways SEO is like a late night infomercial. Promises of flat abs in 30 days with just a 10 minute daily workout! Did we mention that it folds up and fits under your bed too?!
SEO can be a very effective low-cost channel. But to get those flat abs you still need to eat right. And if you're listening carefully to the legal disclaimer you'll hear that those magical results were 'not typical'. That means it'll take longer than 30 days and more work than 10 minutes daily.
Swiss Army Knife SEO
Your marketing plan should be like a Swiss Army Knife with SEO being just one of the tools. Not only that, but you need to use that tool the right way. Getting a whole bunch of traffic that doesn't convert isn't going to help your business. Don't neglect the other tools at your disposal. In fact, some of those other tools might actually help your SEO efforts in the long run.
And if SEO won't work there's always social media, right?