Every now and then we get a call from a prospect who seems to want to try to talk themselves out of buying SEO. We call them "Yeah, Butters." And if you've been following this series, you understand why.
One of the common objections we hear is, "But we already rank for our company name, so why do I need SEO?"
There are a couple dynamics at play here. One, you're probably seeing personalized results, not necessarily what the rest of the world sees. And two, because... and this is important here... UNLESS YOU'RE A WELL-KNOWN BRAND, NOBODY IS SEARCHING FOR YOUR COMPANY NAME!!!
OK, I hope you've recovered from the shock. Now let's tackle each of these one at a time.
Most people don't realize this, but the search results you see are not the same results someone else sees when performing the same search. This is because if you're logged into any of your Google accounts (Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, AdWords, Webmaster Tools, etc.), and if you don't deliberately turn personalization off, your results are being personalized.
This personalization is based on a few things. Google looks at your search history and the type of sites you've clicked on, who's in your Google+ network and items you may have shared in the past. If you regularly search and read tech blogs, when you search for "apple," you're most likely to get results for the company. However, if you regularly search and read gardening and cooking sites, a search for "apple" might produce an entirely different set of results.
Usually the contrast won't be that stark. In most cases you'll see just a few different results from the next person. But the more data Google has on your history, the more likely your results will differ.
Another differentiation factor can be locality. Some searches automatically produce a local set of results. If your company is called "The Carpet Outlet" and a search for that puts you at number one, it's likely as a result of geo-targeting the search results. Perform the same search in another part of the country, and there's a strong chance you're not going to appear at the top. And maybe not even on the first page!
The only way to get completely unbiased results is to log out of all Google profiles before performing your search. Even still, you're likely to have some personalization going on. You can also click the icon at the top of your Google search results page to "hide private results." However, it's possible you're still going to get geo-targeted results either way.
Most companies are not recognizable brand names such as Nissan, Pepsi, Nabisco or even Marathon Gas. But even if you are such a name, ranking for your brand name isn't enough. Each month there are approximately 300,000 searches for "pepsi" and 100,000 for "coke." However searches for "soda" and "pop" collectively reach 1.3 million monthly searches.
Here's another example using a less well-known brand, School Outfitters. Monthly searches for "school outfitters" is 6,600. Monthly searches for "school furniture" is 8100. Not too great of a difference, but here's the kicker: School furniture is just one keyword that would drive business to School Outfitters.
Let's look at just five relevant keywords, "school furniture" (8,100), "conference table" (5,400), "computer desk" (49,500), "fitness equipment" (27,100), and "office furniture" (135,000). Those five keywords alone are searched approximately 225,000 times each month. I'll take a top ranking for any of those over the brand name any day.
My point here is that while brand searches can be valuable, they are just the tip of the iceberg. If you rank only for brand searches, you will get traffic that is already familiar with you. Your competitors are getting everyone else. However, when you choose to optimize for all the other relevant keywords for your industry, you begin to bring in new traffic that doesn't know who you are. You have a chance to convert a new customer and, hopefully, earn a customer for life. If you don't, they just might turn to your competitor instead.
In all honesty, ranking for your brand name is pretty easy. It's ranking for other keywords--those that attract far more visitors--that starts taking time, effort and money. But if brand searches are enough for you, by all means, don't invest in SEO. However, if you want to grow your business and capture traffic that otherwise would go to someone else, you need to invest in quality SEO.
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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