Question: Is SEO a long-term process or can there be a quick fix solution?
Before all you SEOs raise your hand with the answer, lets take a minute to analyze the basis of the question for all the small business owners out there.
A lot of businesses are looking for ways to grow their companies without increasing long-term costs. They want profits, and in order to be (and remain) profitable, they have to keep expenses down to a minimum as much as possible. After all, the more you spend, the less profits you have in your pocket, right?
This is an unfortunate mindset when it comes to SEO and SEM. Instead of looking at them as an investment that will grow their businesses, owners hope that both SEO and SEM can provide quick-fix solutions that will bring an influx of new customers and soaring profits. And somehow, magically, that influx is expected to stay strong, even without any ongoing marketing efforts.
I got two words for you: Coca-Cola.
Or Pepsi Cola.
Or Target Stores.
When did these guys stop advertising? All are well-known brand names and very few people are in danger of forgetting that Coke continues to make cola. Should Coke (or Pepsi, or Walmart or Target) stop their marketing efforts, nobody would forget to go to those stores or buy those products.
Or would they?
These companies continue to advertise for one reason only: it increases their profits. They just don't advertize once or twice, or for a year or two. They continue to advertize year after year after year to make sure people keep them in mind when they do their shopping. They know that when the advertising stops, sales decline. That's the bottom line.
I often talk to business owners that want to invest temporarily in their SEO or PPC efforts. They want to start strong then scale back or eliminate the "expense" down the road.
That's just crazy talk!
PPC as a Short-Term SolutionPPC can be expensive. It's pretty hard to run a successful PPC campaign without an ad spend of several thousands of dollars per month. And it's very easy to move into the tens of thousands of dollars per month. A lot of businesses look at PPC as a temporary solution until their natural search engine rankings are in place. Then they cut out the PPC and let the natural do it's thing.
The question to ask is, if you're profiting with PPC on each and every click, why cut it? Sure, you can get "free" clicks in the natural results via SEO, but why cut out one profitable stream just because you opened another? The problem with PPC as a temporary strategy is that you're looking at the expense, rather than the ROI that it brings.
If all you see is the $5000 per month credit card charges in ad spend, that can be daunting. You can be tempted to think, "I can't afford this $5000!" But if that $5000 in ad spend is bringing you $10,000 in profits, you really can't afford to stop. Sure, you'll "save" $5000 per month in expenses, but you'll be losing $5000 each month in profits.
Killing profitable PPC can really hurt your business. If your PPC campaign isn't, or is barely, profitable, perhaps you need someone else to manage it for you. How you manage your PPC campaign can make a HUGE difference in your profits.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term SEOThere are some things you can do to SEO your site that only need to be done once, then you move on. Things like website architecture can make a profound impact on your site's performance. A few hours of consulting can help point you in the right direction to improve your rankings.
But SEO is really a perpetual process of researching keywords, finding problems and making your site more search engine friendly and keyword focused.
Short-Term SEO SolutionsShort-Term SEO can really only focus on a few things, including site architecture, one-time keyword research and optimization of a set number of keyword phrases. It's pretty difficult to "fully" optimize a large site in a short period of time. There is no ongoing management, reflection or strategic improvements being made. Once the "SEO" is done, it's done. The rest is just happenstance.
Here are some pros of a deliberate short-term SEO campaign:
- Pages gets fully analyzed, optimized and rolled out within a few weeks or months, depending on the size of the site.
- Site architecture (should) be reviewed and problems corrected.
- No long-term contracts or ongoing commitments.
- No re-occurring fees past the initial payments.
And the cons:
- It can take months until any work or recommendations are submitted to the client, delaying performance on the search engines.
- Many valuable keywords may not get optimized into the site based on timing, contract limitations, available pages to optimize or keyword discovery through analytics.
- Limited reporting and performance analysis.
- Extremely limited or non-existent link building or social media help.
Long-Term SEO SolutionsLong-Term SEO is more about the process of improvement. Keyword research and optimizing those keywords into your site is an ongoing process. Finding and correcting site architecture and usability issues is important for continued success. Link building and even social media strategy continues to keep you ahead of your competition.
Here are some cons of a long-term SEO campaign:
- Some valuable keywords may take time to get optimized into the site as other important keywords are targeted first.
- Long-term commitment, which is generally 6-12 months at minimum but likely can go on indefinitely.
- More money out of pocket.
- New and valuable keywords are always being discovered and optimized into your site.
- Ongoing performance analysis, ranking maintenance, analytics reporting and consultations as needed.
- Ongoing link building and social media consulting (if included in a contract)
- Keywords are optimized and implemented continuously; no waiting for a "final" product to be delivered.
- Responsibility in success lies with the SEO because nothing is being "handed over" and then forgotten about.
Short-term SEO campaigns can have merit. But for long-term success and growth, a long-term strategy is generally warranted.
When looking at your SEO and SEM efforts as an ongoing investment, you can get out of the mindset of "cost" and look at the return on investment each will bring. If the return is profitable, then any cut into the "cost" of your online marketing will only result in a cut in your profits.