Small businesses that take their search engine visibility for granted often experience a serious wake up call when their online sales have plummeted. All eyes are on the webmaster or web developer asking, “What happened to our search engine rankings???”
Web site teams will attempt (and some succeed) at fixing the problem but many others will call up “search marketing agencies” with urgent requests to “quick, fix the problem”.
The real “problem” is that there is rarely a speedy solution for the kinds of problems that result in a dramatic drop in search visibility.
Many web site developers feel they “know enough to be dangerous” and find themselves looking for quick-fix SEO services. In some cases, they really do know quite a bit about optimizing and marketing web sites online, they just don’t have the people resources to implement them and need outside help. Others know enough to be dangerous – but only to themselves.
Here’s an alert to small business IT and marketing departments: SEO information from 1999 isn’t going to cut it in 2008.
When a small business generates a substantial portion of it’s business from the internet, the influences on that online visibility cannot be left to chance. Not staying on top of what’s working and what’s not can result in unexpected outcomes. Bad and outdated information can be disasterous.
It’s not practical for small business web site owners to retain a full time in-house SEO consultant or agency in most cases. However, they do need to allocate resources either internally or externally to keeping web site marketing and optimization knowledge current.
The best source for that information is through testing and measuring the performance of company online marketing campaigns. Conferences, blogs, forums, articles and newsletters can be helpful as well but also require time and money commitments not easily available for most small companies – especially in an uncertain economic environment.
Periodic or ongoing consultation with a reputable SEO agency can be far more productive than many other sources of self help information since it’s the consultant’s job to test and measure online campaigns for a multiple companies on an ongoing basis. The cumulative knowledge, experience and insight that comes from working with many different web sites and their associated challenges is of benefit to each web site client individually.
In situations where search visibility has dropped, web site owners and developers responsible for site management/marketing must realize there is rarely a quick fix. The speedy drop in rankings does not mean there’s a speedy solution to get back.
What is a small business web site owner to do? Diversification of online marketing and content promotion tactics is the best prevention. Otherwise, PPC campaigns such as Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft Advertising can be run to drive traffic. Social media promotions, blogger outreach, online public relations and press release marketing can also drive traffic while the SEO issues are being worked out.
The search marketing is dynamic and constantly changing as are consumer information consumption and publishing trends. It just makes sense to leverage expert knowledge and experience as well as a process for continuously harvesting new insight from direct observation. SEO is strategic, not an afterthought and rarely subject to quick solutions.