Don’t Waste Your Small Business Dollars on SEO, until…

Have you ever said these things? “We’ve hired a firm to do SEO for us,” or “we need to appear in page one of search results.” Maybe you are among the 10% of small businesses where that makes sense, but maybe, just maybe, you’re among the 90% of small businesses who are basically tossing money or time, or both, down the drain on.

I can hear you. “What? I thought SEO was something we had to do? Who is this person?”

Don’t get me wrong. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a good thing, but it is part of a bigger picture, and you must understand the bigger picture to know when to invest your hard-earned cash, or your overbooked time, or both, into SEO. You must. Please.

Here’s the dealio: if your website is not converting visitors into leads, so you can then convert them into sales, having your site found on page one of search results is not going to improve your results.

That’s right. You might get more visitors, but they’ll bounce (leave your site) so fast it will be like they were never even there – so you might as well be on page five or page ten of search results. See what I mean?

I know what you’re thinking now. “If I get 1% of my site visitors to fill out our “Contact Us” form, and I have more visitors by doing SEO, our 1% will be a bigger number, right?” Well, yes, that is right; you’ve got me there. Your 99% number of unconverted visitors will also be a bigger number.

If your website is focused on your organization – latest news, product specs, services descriptions, etc. – that may be information that is important to you to share – but it’s not important to the visitor to read. How do you feel when you go to a website and the  “Latest News” starts with something like “Announcing our New Website,” or “So-and-So Joins the Team.” Did you care?

Your website visitors care about the things that are important to them, not about the things that are important to you. They have questions and are looking for answers. They have wants or needs and are looking for someone they can trust to fulfill them. A site that doesn’t resonate with the intended audience, that doesn’t build trust, and that doesn’t open a conversation with visitors is a site doomed to high bounce rates. (High bounce rates are bad. You know, like high scores in golf are bad.)

Sites need calls-to-action (CTAs) that entice visitors to trade their email address for something of value (again, of value to THEM). Websites need to engage visitors and lead them in the direction that they wish to go – which, conveniently, is generally the same direction that YOU want them to go. Your SEO strategy must be a piece of your entire content strategy – part of the journey, as it were, and not a destination unto itself.

Sending more traffic to a website that does not engage is a huge waste of money. Create a content strategy that leverages your increased traffic to build your relationship with potential customers well before they are ready to buy. Intercept those potential customers in their research process, build trust by knocking their socks off with great content, and, oh, by the way, capture their email address along the way so you can nurture them right into your sales process.

Only then will the money you spend on SEO make sense.

About Margaret Johnson

Margaret is a business and technology veteran who started marketing accidentally nearly three decades ago - when she was five and a true marketing prodigy (ahem). When not coming up with awesome ideas, presenting webinars, or teaching about marketing, she's living with two cats, a crotchety fellow, and a house full of antiques and collectibles. She does not use Pinterest.

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