Many small businesses are at a financial disadvantage when it comes to marketing their website. Too often they don't have the funds, time, or resources needed to engage in as much marketing as they would like. Unlike larger businesses with deep pockets, small business often have to rely on do-it-yourself strategies built upon free advice gathered from blogs, forums, and social networking sites.
This gives them a lot to worry about, making sure they are doing it right and that the results will be all they had hoped for. And hoping it doesn't break their budget in the process.
Every small business owner wants to get the most value for the money they spend on their marketing efforts. Simply put, the ROI must be there. But even with a good SEO and a good campaign outline, you can still break your budget--or render your SEO campaign ineffective--when you let your worries get the best of you. Worrying about smart things is smart. Worrying about the other stuff, well, that just sets you up for failure.
Here are five things you should stop worrying about if you don't want to blow your SEO budget over the top:
1) Worrying about perfection
SEO isn't an exact science. Nor is usability. There are many trials and errors along the way and if you're not prepared for that then you'll likely spend too much of your time trying to perfect what can't be perfected.
There are many trade-offs made when optimizing a site. Ultimately you want to do what's best for your visitors, while doing what's best for the search engines. While the search engines like to believe those are one in the same, the truth is that they are often two different things. But the differences are not always that great between them. The problem is when you want perfection on both, when you may need to settle for less than perfect in order to get a perfect balance.
When it comes to both engines and visitor usability the paths to the perfect site is always changing because what would have been perfect yesterday is not perfect today. While I don't advocate settling for poor performance, sometimes you have to accept what you have, get it out there and then move forward perfecting it later. If you try to make it perfect first, you'll be spending your budget on that while you get no improvement from the search engines. Isn't it better to start getting the benefit of the changes sooner, and perfect it later?
2) Worrying about getting #1 rankings
Wouldn't it be nice if getting that #1 spot were easy (and cheap?). Unfortunately we don't operate in a vacuum and there are many competing forces out there.
If you're in a highly competitive industry, it's not just your competitors that you're up against. Informational sites such as Wikipedia, blogs and other informational sites can often dominate the top search engine rankings for your most profitable keywords.
Achieving top search engine placement for all your keywords is great, but sometimes your money is better spent making improvements elsewhere. Once your site is optimized you can often get better return on your investment by improving your website and visitor's experience. Instead of wanting to be #1, why not build a site that actually deserves to be #1.
You may never outperform sits like Wikipedia, and you may never be able to outspend your competition. Get your self settled on this and you can direct your, and your SEO's, efforts on things that will make a real difference in your optimization campaign.
3) Worrying about competitor movement
Do you see a competitor climbing in the rankings? Are you worried that they will over take you? Do you see them outperforming you on some keywords? While this may be disconcerting, you can't expect your SEO to jump in and stop that from happening. Yes, you can invest in more SEO or links or social media... and maybe you should, but short of that, a site can only get so optimized for certain keywords.
Honestly, the question here isn't whether your SEO is doing their job or not. The solution isn't to demand that they start doing better. The real and only viable solution is to assess your campaign and make changes as needed. This may require spending your money in new areas, or spending more money altogether in order to remain competitive.
The problem with worrying about how your competitors are performing is that there is so much you don't know. How much are they spending? Are they profitable? Are they focused on the right things? These questions are just a few you need to know before you decide what, precisely, is worth worrying about.
4) Worrying about traffic over conversions
We all want rankings so we can get traffic. But why do we want traffic? Traffic alone isn't worth much unless it converts into paying customers. We often lose sight of that as we optimize sites. We pay our SEOs to deliver traffic and are often happy to see traffic come, even if the conversions do not follow.
While traffic is a required result of the SEO campaign, conversions should matter more. Before worrying about traffic increases or declines, look first to see what your conversion rates are. SEO can often result in more traffic but less sales. How does that benefit anyone?
If your traffic improves, your conversion rates need to be monitored. If you're getting more sales, great. But if you're losing in your conversion rate then you may need to focus on improving that before looking to improve traffic any further. Why bring more people to the site if fewer and fewer are going to convert?
5) Worrying about slow growth / instant success
SEO is a long-term process that rarely, if ever, brings over night success. One of the most difficult expectations to overcome when pitching SEO services is the expectation that results will come fast.
Some sites can be optimized and see near immediate benefit. Other sites take longer to get optimized therefore the benefit in rankings takes longer. Newer sites have a much longer hill to climb before they see success.
Before beginning an SEO campaign be sure that your expectations are in line with reality. Don't look for a get-rich-quick solution, but instead be willing to invest in a long-term strategy that will pay off only as you let it mature.
Small business budgets are tight and they have to make the most of every dollar. But sometimes trying to squeeze every bit of juice from a dollar ultimately squeezes the life out of it. Worrying too much about the performance of your SEO campaign can lead to jumping the gun on bad intel and making a seemingly bad situation worse.
Give time for your SEO campaign to work before jumping in to make changes. I know, it can be difficult if you are spending money and don't see things going your way. There is risk in everything, including worrying about something that you shouldn't. Worry less, and let your SEO campaign perform more.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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