Monday, 28 June 2010

SEO: Silly Excuse to Over-panic?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to undermine Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – quite the opposite in fact.

With online retail alone set to reach 114billion by 2014, be it a product or service, it is more important than ever to be successful online.

Having said that, it often feels like we’re currently in a market where businesses are demanding ‘some of that SEO stuff’ with no idea what it means or how it works.

Even worse, people are not looking to invest in SEO to experiment with social search or utilize their keyword strategy but simply because they’ve heard the word once and now decided that they need it because everyone else is doing it – behavior that takes me back to the playground.

Essentially, this is why SEO is currently the subject of a bidding war between digital agencies, advertising agencies, PPC consultants and PR firms as they all fight to be handed the responsibility.

The fact is SEO should be viewed as less of a static object to fight over and more as an element that must be integrated into all aspects of a campaign. It is by panicking about SEO that a lot of businesses are under-estimating its abilities and not recognizing the advantages it can offer such as the ability to target a niche search audience and instead just wanting to be at the top of Google search rankings for every possible term under the sun (never gonna happen).

SEO is driving some businesses into such panic they appear to drop all strategy when they hear the term and run blind towards the first person with their SEO light switched on and, believe me, they don’t have to run far.

So why not take the time to school yourself a little? A concept that I feel never gets old.

As Mark Twain, the renowned American author once stated: “Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” If it’s good enough for Twain, then it’s good enough for me.

Before running in panic towards the agencies waiting with open arms, why not pick up a book? I would recommend The Art of SEO by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin and Stricchiola I would offer my top ten tips for SEO, but the book is 555 pages long for a reason.

Learn about developing link worthy content and marketing, optimizing for vertical search and analyzing ranking factors – phrases that, at the minute, may make you want to curl up into ball.

This will then allow you the power to direct the agencies involved as, once you understand the core concepts of what builds up SEO, you will be able to develop a strategy. You’re never going to know HTML as a web designer, or developing content as well as a PRO but at least this way you won’t be shooting blind.

SEO is not going anywhere any time soon and it doesn’t need your business to survive. So stay calm, go back to school and get your nose stuck in a book - and that’s when you’ll be in a position to hire an agency to deal with SEO.


  1. What about simply means testing the proposed supplier and comparing their case studies along with visible & proven success against the other options on your list ? That way buyers can focus on the result & ROI they want to achieve rather than having to learn about the method.

  2. Thanks for your comments Paul. Certainly learning the method isn't for all - for some the best route to SEO may be to view services supplied and past successes.
    results, ROI and bottom lines with always be the main focus for all businesses, however those looking for a little light reading may have an advantage if armed with the basics to be able to ensure integration of SEO across all sectors and activity going forward...