SEO is NOT a stand-alone marketing strategy.
Yep, I said it (and a ton of online marketers who specialize in SEO will interject and say, “actually…” while simultaneously fighting off a stroke).
Stick with me for a minute.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a valuable part of any overall marketing strategy, but you can’t hang your hat on SEO transforming your business. As a stand-alone marketing strategy, SEO simply won’t get you the results you want.
What SEO Can and Can’t Do For Your Business
Over the past 10 years SEO has moved from “gaming the search engine system” to a more customer-valued focus, and this is a good thing, but many SEO consultants and agencies may tell you that SEO is not only the “cat’s meow” but it can jump tall buildings in a single bound and completely transform your business.
SEO won’t help you discover your most profitable customers, it won’t convert browsers into customers and it won’t help you keep your customers or encourage loyalty. It won’t strengthen a weak value proposition, fix usability problems on your website, discover customer purchasing motivations or send emails on your company’s behalf. It won’t help your customers develop an emotional connection with your company or improve the overall customer experience.
What it can do is to allow potential customers to discover your company and, when done correctly and ethically, can bring qualified customers to your website.
On its own, optimizing your website, content and fostering healthy backlinks, can’t create customer personas, won’t optimize your sales funnel and conversion capture mechanisms, and won’t refer additional customers.
SEO is an Investment in Time, Money, and Resources
However, driving organic traffic isn’t an endeavor you should walk away from. It’s a vital part of your overall marketing machine, and if you feed and nurture it, it can be an enormous and critical traffic driver. Ignore it at your peril.
Search engine optimization can help generate awareness and drive high-quality traffic and leads to your company but it’s not a silver bullet, nor is it a quick fix. It’s a long-game investment that requires time, knowledge and human resources. It’s not a “one and done” investment. It’s a continually changing and evolving industry that demands hands-on work and attention by employees or contractors who know what they’re doing.
Any marketing consultant or agency who tells you driving organic traffic is quick and easy and he or she knows how to “game the system” is outright lying to you. Run, don’t walk away from them.
Does this mean you should eliminate SEO from your marketing strategy? No, there are charlatans in every industry. Part of my job is to help my clients find the right resources with the right amount of experience to help them.
I almost always recommend SEO as part of a marketing strategy (I can’t think of a time when it hasn’t been part of a high-level recommendation), it’s a valuable piece of any marketing department but putting all of your marketing resources into a single basket doesn’t make sense. A multi-channel strategy that incorporates multiple touch-points is the smartest choice for any company.