Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a huge industry, especially when it comes to digital marketing and online sales. Keywords, analytics, meta tags, link exchange – there are a million consultants who will tell you that sinking time and money into SEO is the best way to ensure your web presence gives you maximum return on investment.
For some industries and companies, I have no doubt that all of that can be true. A zillion guest posts plastered all over the internet, with just the right blend of keywords and meta tags, will probably net you good traffic and recognition from Google.
Here, though, is where I posit an unpopular opinion: for most companies in most industries, SEO is not a smart investment of time or money.
SEO is usually done using expensive software and/or paid professionals. It usually doesn’t come cheap, and with few exceptions, it rarely has a visible effect on your content or brand. It’s entirely concerned with Google search algorithms and half of that work is done in the behind-the-scenes code you never even see on a site.
Now, if you’re a small business operating outside of a big city, generally serving mostly local customers…the reality is that anyone who finds your website is probably looking for your specific business, or something very like it. They’re probably putting a place-based search term in the mix already, which drastically narrows the competition for high-ranking search results. If you have a solid website with good information, you’re probably already at the top of the page, especially if you beat your competitors to getting online in the first place.
So: don’t waste your time or money trying to game the system. What do you do instead?
- Stay focused on what you’re passionate about.
- Make sure your website has accurate, substantial, useful information about your company and what you do.
- Put authentic, high-quality content online, and share it with potential customers.
- Let the chips fall!
Wildly successful businesses didn’t get that way because of SEO tricks and keyword density – they got that way because they had a good product or service, and people bought it. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you that you can make money hand over fist just by gaming Google. Stop trying to beat the system, and focus on making good content that authentically represents you and your company and brand. Put that good content out into the world whenever you get a chance.
You’ll not only spend your time on the thing that will naturally improve your search ranking, you’ll also stop wasting it on details that are probably not going to work anyway.
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Tari Follett is a spaceship enthusiast and blue-haired musician hailing from Muskegon, MI. In addition to feminist blogs and tiny house floorplans, she enjoys (almost) daily meditation and trying to make the internet a better place. She works as a Partner & Consultant for Firelight.
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