Let’s face it, if we all had limitless budgets for SEO or search engine marketing, what kind of impact could we create for a new product or new product launch online?
Often the ability to make an impact online is only limited by your imagination, but more often than naught it is the costs or the amount allocated in your SEO or SEM budget that determines your ability to generate a buzz or dominate a niche or online market.How can someone place an order from your website, if they don’t know it exists? Sounds simple enough, yet this perplexing little detail is what distinguishes businesses who understand the value of search engine positioning and those who do not.
Market Saturation vs. Keyword Positioning:
The movie industry is a clear example of how leveraging exposure to achieve saturation translates to a measurable ROI when the opening date debuts in the box office. Their ability to saturate the collective awareness with actionable demand with the “watch this movie” itch as a result of posters, co-branding and cross-market promotion (like working with McDonalds’, Burger King and various restaurants) provide a win/win/win for the venue (in this case film) as a result.
The ability to reinforce or product campaign and create a buzz is a science as much as it is an art form, but the takeaway here is visibility is a tangible asset that carries weight as a node of relevance.
Keyword positioning is one objective, but ultimately the real purpose of SEO is to create an authoritative domain capable of ranking itself (or anything it links to) with competitive keywords to aid the process of building more authority.
Exposure equates to Opportunity:
With competition lurking on every corner (or in this case around every keyword online) who appears first, second and third typically take the lion share of the click through traffic from those keywords.
There is a psychological reason we associate someone ranking higher with a better website or match for our needs. It is a premise of peer review and organic websites are sorted by a search engine algorithm that emulates this as a result of popularity, trust and age as well as what elements are predominant within the website itself.
Looking from the outside in, higher search engine ranking are typically viewed as more trusted, more relevant or are generally more revered than lower rankings (such as page 2 or page 3).
As far as an initial litmus test, higher rankings are perceived as less likely to be positioned there unless they are approved by the collective. Hence they are a comfortable choice for most individuals as their initial barrier to purchase is offset by proximity and the propensity to click the top result as if by impulse.
So, knowing that you have to appear above the fold (above the top 5 results) for relevant “broad match” or “exact match” keywords, then it really boils down to three things (1) do you use your own website as a landing pad to promote? (2) Do you use other websites with innate authority in their niche or (3) both?
How Much Can You Afford to Spend?
Knowing what the bottom line is, the amount of time anticipated to make the degree of impact needed to get a solid ROI as well as what are the thresholds for that industry (specifically, what is your competition paying for their visibility) matter.
If your competitors are spending 20K per month for SEO and SEM and you want to compete with a $500 budget, then you either need to rethink your price point, business model or promotional method.
You have to be realistic about branding, lead generation, selling direct, using affiliates or what types of promotion you employ and what your threshold for being a contender actually is.
Speaking from personal experience, since we know what goes into creating top search engine rankings, the amount of time, energy and know-how goes into overcoming granular inconsistencies and obstacles to reach a top ranking position is not something to be taken lightly.
Most search results for popular keywords take months or up to a year to topple. If you understand that trust in addition to popularity must be developed (in addition to on page optimization) before you can see or measure results.
If you lack the patience during the process, then you are only going to recede and allow a more determined SEO or website take your spot, persistence and perseverance is the key.
Many businesses wonder why the good SEO’s cost so much; the fact is you’re paying for their tried and true tested techniques for them to address the areas that need improvement/optimization and for them to implement a series of layers that to the untrained eye may seem redundant or non-obvious.
The end result of a successful SEO campaign is (1) the domain gains an authoritative position (2) the desired rankings mature and stabilize and (3) the site is now a trusted authority on all things related to the topic.
An unsuccessful SEO campaign can (1) get your site penalized, banned or blacklisted in search engines (2) fizzle out and never reach the ranking or objective or (3) never result in any tangible advantage. This is where SEO prices and fees come into play.
If you are using a cheap SEO firm who is using run of the mill sites to build links from (such as bad neighborhoods), who doesn’t understand the value or implementation of on page optimization or simply does not have the experience to produce the results, then the only person to blame “for expecting too much” is yourself.
Just like you wouldn’t take your Ferrari to a quick e lube for service, don’t sell out your website to an inferior SEO company whose main selling point is being cheaper than the competition.
There are dozens of variables utilized in a website review to determine which types of services are ideal for your business. You may or may not need all of them and a cookie cutter approach to SEO will not provide you with what YOUR site really requires to overcome competitors and reach the top of the search engine rankings.
You need to employ due diligence as well as common sense when selecting a reputable and ethical SEO company; obviously results are the true measure, but aside from that metric, price is not one area to be frugal with once you find them.
In closing, here is another post called SEO Costs and Paying it Forward that discusses the topic of SEO costs and the clear benefits and caveats that accompany them.
Also, another resource worth reading is amply named Which is Best? SEO, PPC, Branding, Lead Generation or Advertising can provide insight from the perspective of an SEO and last but not least, a link to a previous post about the age old argument of SEO vs. PPC and which is better…