Friday, July 24, 2009

SEO is not Voo Doo

Those of you that read this blog know that I try to 'get out there' at least once a year (if not more often) and feel the pulse of the tech and SEO landscape ... and what people and businesses are doing on the Internet.

While I probably should be pitching a speaking gig at an SEO conference or traveling and networking more, I choose to see what small businesses and individuals are doing.  How they're doing.

Regardless of YOUR mission, face-to-face wins the race.  That hasn't changed.  If the economy's got you down, lose the tube and get out there and network!  

My latest tour, a localized 'mini-exploration' was somewhat disheartening.

There's an incredible amount of bad information out there.

If nothing else, read this:

There is nothing wrong with 'White Hat' SEO.  Why else would Google, Microsoft (Bing) and Yahoo attend major SEO and online marketing conferences?  NOT just to sell their PPC products.

Reality.  The Internet continues to grow at light speed.  The trends change and so do the rankings.

Google's algorithm for ranking is mindboggling awesomeness.....

Think about it for just one minute.  How many search phrases are possible?  When was the last time you got a totally lame result on Google?

That's awesomeness, years of tweaking, and it's also the reason they have over 60% of the search market.  People Google-it because it works.  Relevant (not skewed) results is Google's No. 1 reason for dominance in the search space.

.... and they want to keep it that way ..... as potential long-term challengers like Bing are working hard to reach a similar level of relevancy.

Ex-Googler Vanessa Fox posted this piece last week to Nine by Blue.  My in-person reaction to various small business people over the past two weeks was even more extreme.

There are a lot of companies shooting themselves in the foot.  My take is it's the ones that either have the wrong impression of SEO, or have been fed a lot of bad information by a webmaster who 'dabbles' by reading an occasional blog.

You don't learn SEO in a week or from a FREE CD (plus $12.95 shipping and handling :).

Google WELCOMES SEO.  The growth of Webmaster Central (which Fox founded while at Google), appearances and blog posts by Google's spam buster Matt Cutts, and lots of information provided is saying to everyone, very simply, that despite an awesome little 'bot' (or 'bots'), Google welcomes your help in discovery if you truly belong in the top-10 (or top-5?) for a specific search word or phrase.

The landscape has changed A LOT in the past 2 years.

So what's the answer?

Most SEO's price to the market but reality dictates that some will overcharge.  There is no 'BBB' for SEO's and like any other industry, there are a lot of phony's out there.

There was a (wrong!) impression floating out there for a while that I was undercutting the market.  There are others as well.  We were simply realizing that in these economic times, while SEO is actually a growth industry, that there are many that need help (now!) and can only afford so much.  There are a few of us out there.  It's just our way of giving back and getting some satisfaction at the same time.

Having wrapped my head so tightly around this stuff for as long as I can remember, there is simply no greater satisfaction than seeing a good (or great) company prosper because they did it right (which not only takes in SEO, but social networking and other factors as well).

It disturbs me to no end (and several others have written about this recently as well) when some IT rocket star sells a package that gets a good company penalized beyond recognition on Google.  Yes, there are penalties for trying to trick the big G ... and it's not easy to recover from one ... despite what you may have read.

Network.  Don't just put an ad on Craigslist.  If you can afford it, go to an SEO convention or local meet-up.  Learn BEFORE you execute.

I think most would agree that a combination of SEO, PPC and the right social networking mix is a winning formula.  It IS entirely possible, depending on YOUR business and the space it plays in, that a majority of your visitors (potential customers) can come from organic SEO.  (IE: Your rank on Google).

Take the free CD .... and recycle it.