dreamstime_m_51743874Search Engine Optimization is still a mystery for most small business owners. Over the last quarter, I surveyed 50 small to medium business owners on whether they were investing in SEO services.

Surprisingly, only 50% had ever implemented search engine optimization for their web sites. And why does this matter? Because if you aren’t tying strategy to your web site, you just have a colorful online brochure with no metrics, no leads, no new business.

Furthermore, I offered many of them a free audit on their sites. Out of those who took advantage of that offer I found consistency in the following:

  • Visibility on Search Engines (Google, Yahoo & Bing) is significantly low – not even making the front page and most not even in the Top 100
  • Company/site listing in Online Directories was less than 3 on average (out of a possible 30 covered in our audit, there are as many as 100 online)
  • Status for having online reviews (Google, Yelp, etc.) was non-existent
  • Social presence was low to non-existent on Google+, Facebook and Twitter
  • Competitive rankings (competitor sites supplied by business owner) were also low

Overall, the analysis was dismal. But it tells me the small to medium business owner either doesn’t see the value or isn’t sure how it would work for their specific niche.

First let’s address the rebuttal to each bullet above:

  • 75% of search users never click on results that aren’t in the top three
  • 82% of Internet users said they used search engines to find local businesses – yet directory listings feed search results
  • Reviews are online Word-of-Mouth marketing – if you aren’t getting them, you’re credibility online is still a bit of a mystery
  • Social content aligns and influences search results (keywords plus interaction levels) – given it has to be original content and even better if posts are reaching 1500 words

Now why does this even matter? Why should a small to medium business owner care about investing in SEO? What will they get for every dollar spent and how will they measure the ROI? That is the biggest question. So let me answer that now:

The best way to measure ROI in SEO is a combination of both time and money. I even sometimes struggle with explaining this and love this from a few years ago in a Forbes article: “SEO works very much like the stock market. You choose your stocks (keywords) based on the knowledge you have at hand, and then you wait. You’ll likely experience periods of growth and decline (like ranking fluctuations), but one thing is certain: the stock market and SEO are both long-term endeavors. There’s no quick path to riches in either case.”

Now granted, keywords are no longer the big ticket. SEO has gotten even more complex since that statement was made. Your SEO now has to be a combination of keywords, tags, inbound marketing, site map, traffic flow, and more. Mike Lieberman of Square 2 Marketing does a great explanation here:

So SEO is like a mutual fund, you invest for the long term, and the payout will be greater despite fluctuations and the ever-changing rules by search engines but in combination with a good overall marketing strategy.

3 Value Points You Can Measure:

Value One.

You get what you pay for. Know what you are really paying for when you are implementing SEO. Chances are you are employing a team of experts to perform tasks daily, weekly and monthly. It’s no small feat, especially if they are dealing with a relatively new site or a highly competitive market. Its going to take time and effort to get you ranking in the top 10, maybe even the top 25 as a new site. You can’t expect people to work for free but like all employees or contractors that work for you, ask for regular reports on what work they have performed. You should get a list of activity performed weekly and/or monthly as well as a forecast of what’s to come. We’ve made it a practice to supply our clients with weekly and monthly reports on all activity including insight into movement even if its as much as only 2 spots.

Value Two.

Tracking Conversions. Compare the above activities to results on your site. These can be more visitors, more time on your site per visitor, conversions on downloads, purchases, redeemed coupon codes, event codes or registrations for webinars or other events. So have more forethought into content on your site, and if you can track the interaction ensure your SEO person implements it. Google Analytics is commonplace in SEO, just work with your SEO person on what interactions are meaningful to you or have monetary value. Then make sure that conversion is being tracked. Monetary value of those transactions may not be immediate but at least you can see who is downloading or clicking through for more knowledge of your business. Keep tracking, shifting content and improving the site to support the metrics.

Value Three.

Time. This gets tricky. But let’s say you have been using your time to do cold calls, networking, going to events, to drive clients to your business. Much of that time networking is hit or miss. But imagine if you started driving people to your business in more automated, trackable means via SEO and include driving them to ebook downloads, webinars, sharing your views via social media and more. Creating thoughtful content and incorporating them into your SEO strategy. You might just be saving yourself some additional time and headache chasing venues or opportunities. People looking for your services and expertise would find you. Your time is valuable, and time is money.

Bottomline — You cannot measure, what you cannot manage. If you manage your SEO investment, know what to ask for, and you will see the results.  Get a free initial SEO Audit from us here at Clientraction.

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