I recently heard about a company that was working on having their site optimized and wanted to increase those efforts. Instead of doing so, they dropped the idea due to "lack of funds" and transferred that money over to Social Media. Another company brought their PPC in-house because it was becoming too expensive to outsource. And yet another that I know of decided to have one of their minimum wage workers manage their Social Media campaign because they were already paying too much for SEO and PPC.

What do all of these companies have in common? They all want to grow, but are pulling back on their investments when they should be investing more.

Let's take a look at each of these to dissect where they are going wrong.

One More Step to Conversion

The first company will definitely get some traction from increases in Social Media efforts. But, with a site that isn't fully optimized, they are pouring water into a leaky bucket. I'm certain that they'll build some brand name recognition, see their traffic increase, and make more sales as a result of increasing their Social Media budget. But, will it be the same amount of increased traffic and sales if had they kept their SEO budget in tact?

Hard to say, but my guess is no.

Social Media is a great vehicle to drive relevant traffic and build links. Like a good infomercial, it gets people's interest. SEO is about attracting those who are already interested. The difference between the two is huge. With Social Media, you have an additional layer of conversion. You have to get them interested and then make them want to buy, and then convince them to buy from you. With SEO, they are already interested, and you just simply show them that you have what they want.

The process of optimization is building a site that gives searchers more of what they want. You want to make sure your site meets their needs, not just peaks their interest.

Saving Money Means Having More Money to Lose

The second company, the one pulling their PPC and bringing it in-house, is also likely to lose ground. Not that there is anything wrong with doing things in-house, unless of course you really don't have the knowledge, skill, or manpower to handle it. And, that is the case here. From what I understand, the hourly rate this company was being charged had not changed in the last 5 years. The company managing their account, at long last, wanted to bring the rate in line with their current pricing. For the company being managed, the new "expense" is just too much.

What's likely to happen is, as their in-house team struggles to learn the ins and outs of PPC, they'll start to see their click troughs decrease and cost per clicks jump. It won't happen overnight, but unless they have the time to invest fully into their PPC knowledge and management skills, and include ad and landing page testing, their campaigns will begin to suffer, as most inactively managed campaigns do.

In the attempt to save a few dollars, any savings will be lost in poorer PPC campaign performance. Instead of a campaign that continually increases profit, it'll stagnate, at best, and lose money, at worst.

Moving Forward Isn't Always Progress

The last company has a good SEO campaign going, and they have been advised for some time to engage in Social Media, a plan which they have back-burnered for years. Only recently have they begun moving forward with it. The problem is, that even though they know about Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, and the like, they have no idea how to leverage them properly.

In sports terminology, they know who their best players are, but they don't know what positions they play, or, for that matter, how to create a winning play using each player properly. Will they figure it out? Well, they may manage to stumble along long enough to learn a few tricks. But, will their Social Media profiles be optimized to reach the most people the quickest? Highly doubtful.

When moving forward with Social Media, the set-up is the most crucial part. Setting it up wrong is like building a house on sand. It works great for a while... until you realize that you need a better foundation. The whole house has to be moved, and that's not an easy task, nor does it always allow for a seamless transfer. And, often times, pieces get lost along the way.

They've already made a number of rookie mistakes that, if not corrected, will cost them dearly later on. Again, they are saving a few dollars by having their in-house employee get their Social Media together, but this is no expert. It's someone who's knows how to use Social Media, but not how to market with it. That's like hiring a coach based on his extensive experience watching sports on TV!

Online marketing is no Little League game. This is the Big Leagues. Whether it's SEO, PPC, or Social Media, you can't play T-ball when you are trying to compete in the Majors. If you're lucky, holding back on your online marketing investments can prevent you from building up the momentum you need to overcome your competition. If you're not lucky, it's gonna cost you a lot more money to fix it later than to do it right to begin with... right NOW. That's not just money lost, that's more profits lost too.

October 7, 2010

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.


Online Marketing is never a little league game. It requires a lot of research,planning,resource and money to be invested. Online Marketing requires investment that will enable you to outrank your competitors both the big companies as well as the small one's. The most important thing is how well you plan and execute your online marketing campaigns whether it is SEO,PPC or Social Media.

Hello Stoney, you make some good and interesting points in your article but at the end of the day you can't get blood out of a stone.

Good blog though, thanks.

Thanks for the post! This supports my theory that Social Media marketing should not be done until you have your site optimized. On-site optimization should be the first thing done, then social media and link building comes next.


All great points and I couldn't agree more. The problem is that until companies can truly see the benefit of the SEO work, they won't commit to it regardless of what the numbers show. Sometimes they need to get aware from old school ideas and start thinking out of the box.

Not to get on a tangent but it's much the same as healthcare. Preventative medicine while costing more upon front money will lead to less long term expense. But trying to get Washington and insurance companies to go that route is like getting Kurt Warner out of retirement...it just isn't going to happen.

I so agree that optimizing your website is the necessary foundational step and if you don't do it, your other search marketing efforts will be like pouring water into a leaky bucket (great analogy!). Like other foundational work, people often don't find optimizing their website to be sexy enough and therefore don't want to spend $$ on it. Social media, since it's trendy, seems like a sexier place to invest. We do find that when clients understand how website optimization works, they ultimately get that it sets the stage for both link building and Social Media - and for bringing the right visitors to the right places, taking the right actions on their site.

However, it's often challenging to work with web developers who may already think the website is "finished" and don't want to be bothered tweaking it with optimization updates. We often find that clients see the importance of using their website as a marketing vehicle, and appreciate the value of SEO, but back down when they meet with resistance from their web developer. Then they turn to Social Media because it's less hassle. We're finding a growing appreciation of the value of SEO among developers, but it's far from widespread.

@Cindy, I agree, developers are sometimes the toughest to get buy in on SEO. A lot of it is pride. They think their work is "complete". That, or they know enough about SEO to think they know a lot. Either way, they can be difficult to work with at times.

Can't agree more, Stoney. On all points. This is an ever-lasting discussion we have with our client trying to explain why they need a professional working not only on their SEO, Social Media and PPC but also on their website design. Here is what's puzzling. For some reason people do not depend on "in-house" resources when it comes to treating medical conditions: everyone understands they need to see a doctor - not a cousin or a friend. However, when it comes to online marketing, all aspects of it, people think they can handle it themselves... AND, as we see it with more and more clients, they end up paying twice when they come to realization that it takes a professional to get it done right.

I totally agree with "Saving Money Means Having More Money to Lose." Sometimes we focus too much on the money we will be losing that we lose sight of the larger amount that we can be earning. Yes, this is taking some risks. But businesses are full of risks. You just have to determine which risks will be more profitable for you in the long run.

Hello Stoney, I want to thank you for all your articles. I've read almost all your articles, especially I like SEO 101 articles.

Regarding this article, I agree that, of course, investing money in SEO is worth. And todays really we have so many ways to get quality backlinks from social media sites.

Thanks for your work.

Whoa! Thanks for this wonderful post. I had a great time reading most of your posts. SEO is the foundation of internet marketing and we shouldn't take for granted this strategy. So, if you have a website don't think twice to hire a SEO specialist.

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