Search Engine Optimization

The Importance of SEO

One of my goals for 2010 was to learn to do SEO on my sites.

Throughout the year I’ve invested close to about $10,000 into courses, software, testing and outsource salaries to learn and test various search engine optimization strategies.

More and more now I’m getting people asking me about SEO tips for their websites, especially from regular brick-n-mortar business owners who want to get their sites ranked ahead of the competition.

Why SEO is Important

In the “real” world, retail business owners know that one of the most important aspects of opening a successful retail business is location.

A half-decently ran business in a prime location will outperform a perfectly ran operation in the wrong location.

Why is that?

Well, the reason for it is because the right retail location will get you a lot of customer traffic. Even if your product or service isn’t perfect, if your location gets enough targeted traffic, your business will do better than a business with a better product or service in the wrong location.

In the online world, location is also everything.

The location you want to be is on the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing for targetted keywords.

What most people don’t realize is that 99% of people never go past the first page of search results listings when searching for a keyword.

Meaning, if someone searches for “keyword” in Google, they will only pay attention to the first 10 results.

So if your business is listed as #57 for that keyword term, that is completely useless. Nobody will find you there.

Search engine listings are NOT like the Yellow Pages. Simply being “on the list” is not good enough. You must be in the Top 10. If you’re not in the Top 10, you’re invisible.

When I do consulting for businesses, one of the biggest mistakes I see almost all of them making is that they try to rank for 1,000′s of keywords at the same time.

When I run a report for them, they might have a keyword profile that looks like something like this:

They may rank in the Top 100 or Top 50 for dozens and dozens of keywords and they’re proud of it, totally unaware that a keyword profile like that is totally USELESS for their business.

The reason why is because here is the amount of traffic they get for those keywords:

Do you see what I mean? It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Top 100 for a BILLION keywords, if none of them are getting you any traffic then that is totally useless.

Instead, if that company focused their SEO efforts on just ONE keyword that gets a decent amount of traffic and then got in the TOP 10 for that keyword, they would actually get some traffic!

The same thing is true for Blogs.

As a Blogger, to build your traffic, you shouldn’t try to rank in the Top 100 for 1,000 different keyword terms. You should try to rank in the TOP 10 for just a handful of keywords. Start with ONE and when you’re in the TOP 10 for one keyword, expand out to the next one.

That’s how I’ve built the traffic on this Blog to over 22,000 visitors per month.

The Challenge with SEO

After learning the ins and outs of SEO for over a year now, I have discovered that there are a few challenges with SEO.

First of all, SEO is not something that is easy to grasp for the average person, especially if you don’t have a technical background.

I consider myself a pretty sharp guy when it comes to technology, and even for me understanding SEO is not easy. There are a LOT of moving parts that need to fit together to produce a result.

After a year of messing around SEO I feel like I am finally getting a good grasp on SEO techniques. I’m able to build a site and get it ranked for some pretty competitive keywords within about 6 months of launch. If the site is on a domain that has some history, I can produce results even faster.

However, there is a LOT of work involved in producing results, especially since everything I do is based on “White Hat” techniques. I don’t do any kind of Black Hat SEO or anything even remotely “shady” as the sites that I work on cannot afford to take any chances in getting banned by Google. Everything has to be perfectly “Google Friendly” or I don’t do it.

Because of this, I have to have very strict standards for what I do and how I do it. Very little of what I do can be outsourced to “cheap” outsource workers as many of them follow “spammy” SEO strategies which I won’t do.

A proper SEO strategy is not really that difficult, once you know what you’re doing, but it does require creative thinking and is very time/labor intensive.

However, if properly executed, a proper SEO strategy can get your website ranked in the TOP 10, and possibly even in the TOP 3 for a highly traffic’d keyword and your traffic can literally explode overnight.

I have done this for a few consulting clients over the last 6 months and they have had some incredible results which produced tangible gains to their bottom line. However, to hire me to do this you for you a minimum budget of around $3,000 – $5,000/month is required and you will need to give it at least 3-6 months to see results.

Once you see the results, I guarantee they will be well worth the investment for your business, but not everyone has that kind of money to invest up-front. Especially since there is no guarantee if you’ll see results in one month or six.

So, is there a better way for small businesses or even Bloggers?

Well, for about 3-4 months now I’ve been testing out a new service that promises something no other SEO firm out there offers – not even me if you hire me. 🙂

SEO Service takes a totally different approach to SEO services. Instead of a person paying for SEO services up-front and then hoping to see results a few weeks or months later, SEO Service only charges you a fee once they produce results.

Meaning, only once you rank for your chosen keywords do they charge you their fees. If they can’t get you ranked for the first three months, you pay nothing.

There are no setup fees either, in case you’re thinking that there is a catch.

I must admit that when I first heard of SEO Service I was highly skeptical. Their model seemed too good to be true. Meaning, they are taking all the risk and the prices they are quoting for keyword rankings are NOT very expensive.
How SEO Service Works

Let me show you guys how they work.

I’ll use this Blog as an example. The first thing we do is go to their website. Once we arrive there we are greeted with this prompt:

Once you enter in your website, it will ask you for the first keyword you.

Once you type in your keyword the software runs some real-time calculations and it will tell you exactly how long it will take to rank for that keyword. Here’s my report:

So, as you can see if I wanted to rank for the keyword on this Blog, those are the monthly fees I would have to pay only once I am ranked.

If after month 1 I was ranked #123, I would still pay nothing, even though they would be working on doing SEO optimization for my site for that keyword.

If fact, even if after five months of SEO optimization they were still unable to rank my site for that keyword, I would still pay nothing.

It is only once I got I start to pay.

So basically, until they produce results, you don’t have to pay anything.

Another thing that’s pretty cool about their software is that when you type in a keyword like “personalized coffee mugs”, their software automatically gives you suggestions for other keywords as well.

For example, here they are suggesting I go with “customized coffee mugs” which gets 27,010 searches per month as compared to “personalized coffee mugs” which only gets 9,900 searches.

Now, here’s a very important point.

Pretty soon you have a million websites using the term on their websites because they see all their competitors doing the same thing, and not realizing that their customers don’t refer to that product by that name.

It’s the classic case of the blind leading the blind. Or in this case, the blind copying the blind who also copied the blind.

As I said, SEO is not easy to understand, because a lot of it is based on understanding human psychology combined with technology.

I have spent several hours trying to explain this one single concept to a client before and they weren’t really grasping the concept. They couldn’t understand why a keyword with LESS traffic would be more expensive. 🙂

Anyway, the point here is that when you are picking your keyword through SEO Service, look through the suggestions they give you and get quotes on the different keyword before choosing which keyword you want to focus on.

Don’t assume that just because a keyword is getting more traffic, that it will be more expensive. There are plenty of keywords out there that get very little traffic and cost a lot of money, while other keywords get a lot of high quality traffic, but have very little competition for some reason and you can get them for a much cheaper price.

What Happens Next

Once you choose your keyword(s) that you would like SEO Service to start working on for you, simply click the “GO” button beside your domain. You will be taken to a page where you create your account. Once you create an account SEO Service will go through and approve your website / keyword within about 24hours (or less).

Don’t worry too much about the approval process, it’s easy to get approved. I think they just do a manual approval to make sure you’re choosing an appropriate keyword, and that you haven’t spelled something wrong or that you haven’t chosen a keyword that’s totally inappropriate for your website.

Once you are approved, they go to work and you sit back and wait for results.

It really IS that easy.

I was quite surprised by this, because it seems too good to be true, but it’s not.

So far I’ve tested them on four different websites with four different keywords and they are starting to produce results. For one very competitive keyword that gets a lot of traffic, they have been able to place me #22 on Google for it so far. This is with zero work on my side, and it’s for a keyword that this website had no previous ranking for.

I specifically chose that keyword on purpose to test them out. I picked a really hard, high traffic keyword for them to go after, because I wanted to see if they can deliver before I recommend them to other people.

So far I haven’t been disappointed.

Is There a Catch?

There is no catch to using their service. There are a few things to keep in mind though.

Firstly, they ask for a six-month commitment to see results. Don’t expect them to produce results overnight. That goes for any kind of SEO work. This is one of those “set it and forget it” type of services. Of course you can monitor your progress in your account with them, but you shouldn’t expect to see any real progress in the first few months. You may see results right away, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t.

They may take the entire 5-6 month time frame to get you ranked in the Top 10. Of course, until they produce results you don’t have to pay so it’s not that big of a risk.

Secondly, don’t pick a low traffic keyword if you can get high traffic keyword for the same or even lower price. Use your brain a little. If you can get ranked for “keyword x” which gets 10,000 searches/month and costs $200/m for the Top 3 spot, OR you can get ranked for “keyword y” which gets 350,000 searches/month and costs $220/m for the Top 3 spot – go for Keyword Y! You’ll potentially get 35 times as much traffic for just a few dollars more.

It’s better to go after one or a few high traffic keywords than a whole bunch of low traffic keywords. This is not the time to pick a super specific “long tail” keyword.

Thirdly, one final thing that I think is pretty cool about their services. Once you get ranked in the Top 10, such as for example in the #8 spot – let’s say that you no longer want them to spend their energy trying to get you ranked above that. Such as for example if the #1-#7 spots are taken up by very popular websites which you can’t possibly compete with.

In such a case, you can set that specific keyword into mode, where you pay 50% of the monthly pricing to keep it there. They no longer do any SEO optimization for that keyword, but they might not need to in order to keep you in the #8 spot for example. So in this way you could save yourself some money once you are ranked.

Of course if all of a sudden you drop down to the #12 spot and you want them to do some more SEO to get you back in the TOP 10, you can do that and the price goes back up to regular until you switch the keyword back into maintenance mode.