SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and SEM stands for “Search Engine Marketing”. While they technically are not the same thing, they’re both somewhat joined at the hip. At least you can think of them that way if you sell products or services via the Web as your home-based business. They both involve using methodologies that will position your website to be more easily found in the search engines by your potential customers. In some circles they mean the same thing, so I’ll just refer to them collectively as SEO/SEM.
Why learn any of this? Why not just leave it to someone else? Here are five reasons why learning at least a basic level of SEO/SEM skills is important to a home-based business owner who operates on the web.
(1) Do It Yourself – If you learn the basics of SEO, you can perform some of the work yourself. This is important especially when the home business is just starting out. You might be working on a shoestring budget and professional SEO/SEM people are a fair-sized (not to mention, ongoing) investment. You may not be able to afford SEO/SEM professionals in the beginning and you may have to perform the work yourself out of necessity. (By the way, the real basics are not very hard to learn and there is nothing magic about them).
(2) Intelligent Outsourcing Decisions – When it comes time to outsource the SEO/SEM functions to a professional, how will you be able to make intelligent decisions if you don’t know the basics yourself? This is important because there are a lot of shady SEO firms out there who will be more than happy to take your money and not do much of anything for you. If you take the time to learn the basics, you’ll know what to look for and what questions to ask to in order to differentiate between the ‘real deals’ and the ‘slippery salespeople’.
(3) Good Foundation – Two pieces of advice you’ll often hear is “read the SEO forums” or “subscribe to SEO newsletters” to learn SEO/SEM. While this is generally good advice, the same applies as the above mentioned. How will you know the truth from the shady unless you have a good foundation of the basics? In fact, unless you have that foundation, you probably won’t even understand a lot of what you read in those forums and newsletters.
(4) Keep Up to Date – Google recently did another one of their major updates – dubbed ‘Jagger’. If you have a good foundation of the basics, you’ll be able to understand the implications of changes made during updates such as these. Staying on top of these things also helps with #2 (dealing with SEO/SEM professionals). Next time an SEO/SEM professional asks for your business, ask them this: “what was the most significant impact of Google’s Jagger update on Link building?”. See what they say. (If you want what I think the correct answer is, email me).
(5) Better Use of Tools – How to get the basics? Here is a resource I highly recommend. Brad Callen is an SEO/SEM Professional but he also sells and markets a software product called “SEO Elite”. Here is a link to the SEO Elite website. By the way, I’m not recommending you buy the software unless you understand the basics. This is one of those cases where the tool (in this case software) will not help you unless you understand why you are using it. The reason I am sending you to his page is that Brad has a wonderful free SEO basics mini-course. You can sign up for it using the pop-up on his website (you may have to disable your pop-up blocker). You will get a lot of the basic foundation I’m talking about here just from this free mini course.
The home-based business owner or the small business owner can benefit greatly just by investing some of his/her time on the basics. Don’t try to become a professional (unless of course you want to), but just learning the basics of SEO/SEM can give you a stronger foundation in managing your web based, home business.