Search marketing – It’s not all equal
Written by: Jacqui Cooper
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] bet at some point if you’re a business owner or manager you’ve been approached by someone selling SEO/Online Search Marketing Services. I’d also be willing to bet that some of those people have guaranteed you a number one rank on Google.
I’d go even further and say that some of you have taken the plunge because a lot of them will be charging very little for “Local Search Marketing” or whatever they call their service. Finally, I’d also bet money that many of you were very disappointed with the results. The result of which often means that you view SEO/Online Marketing Service Providers as scam artists and SEO as useless.
I understand why you’d think like this but let’s really look at it in a calm light. Firstly, there’s an old adage which says “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.” So when that persuasive person called you and told you that they could guarantee you a number one rank on Google for $250 or less (I have heard $25, $125, $175 and $200 quoted) is it possible?
The correct answer is no, it’s not.
Because so many people try and ‘game’ (cheat) the system, search engines continually tweak their algorithms. They’re moving towards valuing things over which you have no or little control more than things you can control.
Search marketing starts with your website
Your website is incredibly important and must function correctly (that is have the right code and SEO factors, be easy to navigate and provide valuable content) but, it won’t necessarily help you to rank on its own.
Incoming links are still important, but again, on their own will not always help rank. What the search engines look for are signals that say people find your website relevant and valuable.
However, there is something that people overlook time and time again. They fail to take into account the size of their niche/local market when evaluating a marketing services provider and their fees.
Take a look at the image below, this is from a search for a plumber in Phoenix, Arizona. Each one of those red dots is a plumber.
All of those are competing with each other for the keyword ‘Phoenix plumber’. In reality of course, someone living in Buckeye is unlikely to call a plumber in Cave Creek and vice versa.
Next, we’ll look at the same search but in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Still competition but much less. If you were a plumber in Flagstaff would you expect to pay the same as a plumber in Phoenix to dominate your local market?
In Phoenix the competition is much greater so any business needs to stand out to get the sort of signals that are becoming more and more important. The signal is, are people talking about you and what are they saying.
In marketing, it’s often said that any publicity is better than no publicity but is that true online?
Before the explosion of the internet, if someone was dissatisfied with a product or service, they could and often would tell their immediate circle of friends and family, who may or may not have repeated it. The complaint would not travel the entire globe and, the effects of the complaint would dissipate over time, until all that would be remembered is the name of the brand.
Brand familiarity was conducive to trust, that is, if people recognised a brand, they were more likely to buy it. Hence “Any publicity is better than no publicity.”
Today though it’s different. If someone has a complaint about a product or service, they can at any point go online and register their displeasure. The problem here is, that complaint is there for all time, for people worldwide to see. No forgetting the complaint and remembering the brand. Now, the complaint and the brand stay connected.
It is true that only around 25% of buyers actually write reviews good or bad, your problem as a business owner is that a whopping 80% of buyers read those reviews. Bad reviews lose you business.
These are just two of the factors that should influence the cost of online search marketing, whether you do it yourself or outsource. The more competitive your niche and or location, the more time and money you must spend to stay still, never mind dominate. The state of your reputation also affects your online marketing. The worse your reputation is, the more effort you will need to make to change it, which means more time, which means more money.
Finally, how much of your turnover do you allocate to marketing the business? Somewhere between 6 and 12% is the norm, depending on whether you’re a new business and how competitive your niche/location is. A new business in New York, in a competitive niche would need to spend much more than an established New York business in that same competitive niche. Instead of thinking that you can market your business online for pennies, be realistic, if you are, then you will succeed.