SEO: Snake oil or sales potential?

OK, maybe that?s a bit far fetched, but I still see all manner of claims made by supposed SEO ?experts? in their desperation to win your business. As a small business owner, I?ll bet you get several calls/emails a week from SEO companies promising the world and it?s tough to know who to use, or whether to use any of them at all?

Here?s my five point plan to making sure you get the most value out of your SEO consultant. After all, SEO is time consuming, and time is money.

1. Establish what you want to achieve

Before doing anything, create a plan and treat this like a project. Work out what you want to achieve and why. Granted, most of the time the answer might be as simple as ?I want more traffic?. Before starting a campaign of focussed SEO, first do some analysis of your website in order to convert traffic better. It?s better to have 100 people visit who all make purchases, than 1,000 who land and click away.

2. Understand the value of SEO

This will help keep you focussed on what you?re trying to achieve. Let?s say you rank on page two for a keyword that gets 5,000 monthly searches; you?d get about ten – 50 of those click-throughs per month. However, being ranked first, you?d get about 2,000 ? 2,500 hits. Let?s say you have a three per cent conversion rate on a ?50 product, using the click through rates from above, that?s a difference of ?0 – ?50 per month, compared to a potential of ?3,000 – ?3,750. Bad SEO costs more than good SEO.

3. Beware of the snake oil salesmen

If someone guarantees you that they can get you to number one, make sure you get them to clarify. Any of us can get any old keyword to rank number one, but it doesn?t mean that it?s a useful or relevant one. No one can promise to get all of your relevant keywords to number one. Besides, what happens when they take on another client from the same industry? Get to know your SEO consultant and trust your instinct; don?t be easily sold to with meaningless patter.

4. Be part of it

Google wants you to work hard. I?ll repeat that, Google wants YOU to work hard. The reason others will move above you in the SERPs over the coming months will probably be because they?re working harder than you. There?s a lot of great stuff that a good SEO person will be able to do for you, but a large part of it nowadays comes down to your own hard work. With Google Authorship and social interactions becoming more and more important, you need to be at the front end of things. If you aren?t, others will be. 

You?ll find these pages good for advice on SEO:

5. Be patient and stick at it 

Rome wasn?t built in a day. Ask your SEO person about their long term plans and goals for your site; get to know what?s being done and what?s happening at each stage. Use analytics and ranking tools to track your progress, but give it time.  A lot of e-traders say things to me like, ?Search optimisation is a waste of time! I spent a month working with an SEO company and nothing happened so we pulled the plug; what a waste of money. I don?t have time to use social media or worry about keywords etc. So anyway, can you explain why I?m dropping down the rankings??

Yes, yes I can?

Tim Pritchard is the SEO specialist at ecommerce software supplier at SellerDeck.

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