I've never been a fan of long term search engine optimization services where a small business is expected to pay large sums of money for some type of online work that's suppose to increase your website ranking. So much of the SEO industry was built on scams and false claims that it's hard for anyone to really trust someone who says they can do the job. SEO scam artists used to give you long lists of technical jargon to explain what they were going to do for you and most people blindly trusted them because they were "the experts."
My personal philosophy has always been one where the bulk of the basic SEO work is handled immediately and then the website owner is trained how to maintain it on their own without having to perpetually pay for the SEO service. This philosophy assumes that someone is hired to perform the search engine optimization job after the website is live, or has been live for some time.
As an SEO Professional, I really don't like how I personally feel when I tell someone that they need to pay for XYZ-SEO-Service forever. I see the sinking look in their eyes, and I hear it in their voice on the telephone.
As a specialist in the jewelry industry, I realized that SEO services could be fine tuned and then started in preparation for events or seasons, and stopped after the time had passed. I write about most of these SEO strategies in these Daily Golden Nuggets so anyone can follow them.
I've had a little conflict of conscience over the last 30 days as I read the Google announcements about obfuscating keywords from Google Analytics and reading blogs and watching videos from other SEO Pros who weighed in on the topic.
Over the last few years Google and Apple have both been driving forces in how the internet evolves.
In September 2013, Google changed their underlying search engine software, announced a new version of the Android OS, merged how Google+ and YouTube work together, and decimated the SEO world with by blocking those keywords.
In September 2013, Apple released their new iOS 7 and two new versions of their new iPhone 5 series.
Meanwhile, Microsoft hasn't contributed much as a driving force for internet advancement but they might become a player again now they they've announced they want to buy Nokia, once the world leader in mobile technology.
Speaking of once world leaders in mobile, in September we also found out that BlackBerry is just about out of the game now after selling itself.
Every one of these changes in technology has an effect on how the internet will work tomorrow, and for at least the next 12 months.
Every one of these changes in technology will also call into question any of the SEO strategies that we've all been using.
This time last year, I was a big proponent of HubSpot's Marketing Grader website ( http://marketing.grader.com/ ) but after 12 months of looking at the reports the only thing I realize that it's good for is making people panic. Several of my customers were watching their grade fall or stay the same and wondered why they bothered to spend money on SEO every month.
Meanwhile it was clear to see the increase in sales because of paid SEO efforts and it became obvious to me that HubSpot's Marketing Grader is designed to convince people they need to spend more money faster. Rubbish!
So here we are approaching the end of 2013 and mastering marketing on the internet seems to be a huge unknown.
How will it work from now on? Here are my thoughts:
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs to be replaced as a general concept by Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which better explains the entire process. Please yell at me from now on whenever I knee-jerk refer to SEO instead of SEM.
2. SEO, err, um... (dammit!) SEM can no longer be an after-thought. SEM needs to be part of your overall marketing plan.
3. You need to find someone versed in all areas of marketing, including writing copy, offline ads, and online strategies, who can manage your SEM for you. If you can't find one agency to do this for you then you need to find an offline marketing agency and an online marketing agency that will "play well together." Normally these folks would never agree to work together so keep shopping around until you fine people who will.
4. The SEM Pro you hire needs to learn about your business so they can be your partner. They need to work on your online identity with the same fervor that you would without you needing to keep up with all these changes.
5. SEM needs to be a monthly expense. Even though I hate the idea, it does look like this is perpetual so you might as well make it part of your yearly marketing budget. This could translate to a full time employee dedicated to the job or an agency.
6. Unlike my previous strategies to correct all SEO problems quickly then phase out the SEO work, the SEM strategy needs to be continual. Consistent online activities over the long term have always produced positive business results. I don't see this changing, which is why SEM needs to be perpetual.
The seasons are changing right now and with it, we all have to mature from our SEO way of thinking into the SEM way of thinking.