As someone who has been involved with the world of the Internet since its early beginnings, I would like to share with you why Search Engine Optimization, known as SEO – or the factor that determines how ‘free’ or organic search engine results are displayed – is the most expensive of online advertisements, and how I finally came to this understanding.
I will ask you a question. What’s one of the top expenses for a business?
The answer is employees and contractors.
Please remember this point as we go about this discussion, and touch on its importance later on.
Before Google changed the world and revolutionized online search as we know it today, there was Yahoo, AltaVista and other websites that used to deliver search results. But they were no search engine; they were directories. The internet was full of inefficient directories that listed websites in different categories.
The problem with directories is that you are not searching for anything in particular – you just look at websites as they are displayed. Some directories such as Yahoo charged money (if i remember it was about $300 per year), and while others gave free listings, you had to pay for better positions.
One day, a new company popped up with a search engine that actually lets people search for content. The search was not great but the experience of searching was not even close to the directories. And there, that’s how Google changed the Internet!
Google gave people the ability to do SEO; albeit it started out a little too predictable and inefficient back then. You just had to incorporate keywords, or search terms used by users, over and over again in your website’s content, and Google would give you top positions just because you had a larger keyword density than your competition.
Then a new economy rose. Companies like mine that were small, and used to attract no attention from larger industry players suddenly got top positions on Google searches, and in effect, more business than we could handle.
Anyone had a chance to be #1 in any keyword – it was that easy; just a small span of keywords gave you top positions.
Google will never admit it, but as a businessman I am think that Google gave this wild west to run just for people to get addicted. Do you have drugs problem in your country? In North America it’s a big problem!
The first time the dealers will come to someone new, he will offer it for free. right ?
You take the drugs and feel high. Then you come for more and find out you need to pay for it.
Google gave free search result positions to everyone. There was no paid option even if people wanted to pay at first, thinking that would get them better search rankings. Everything was free!
Companies understood the power of the web and saw that it really created sales. It’s not only a nice business card anymore.
It was an amazing time and companies made a crazy amount of money.
A few years later, Google came up with some algorithms that sought to improve quality of search. Keyword density was no longer the biggest factor, and with this, many websites disappeared from the top positions. Some companies closed their doors as the main revenue stream closed on them.
If you have a business that did 1 million in sales from Google for free and now Google doesn’t give you traffic for free anymore, what do you do next?
The answer is spend money to get traffic and secure your position in Google’s listings.
People spent money on Google AdWords (Google paid option) and thought about it as a patch. No one thought about AdWords as a solution. Everyone around me saw AdWords as a temporary fix until we could go back to the days of free, or organic Google search results.
After few months, many companies understood what Google wanted websites to do in order to rank better. Many companies were able to win back their positions. Some websites had to be rebuilt. Some content had to be created, some SEO had to be done. At that time, it was a one-time expense that allowed company and website owners like myself to reclaim our organic search rankings.
A few months later, a new development came up. Google launched yet again another change in its search algorithm, and again companies lost positions. Again, everyone set back to work on AdWords, SEO, website changes, and developing new content, among others.
The same process that I describe to you took place for many years, and companies spent money to win free results. Companies spent money to learn the new algorithm and tested ways to rank, spending months of work with the pure hope of a gambler rolling the dice and waiting for the lucky 7.
In 2016 and 2017, I closely monitored each one of my client’s SEO positions and rankings on Google. The positions change all the time. In the digital marketing world, we call it the Google Dance. The Google Dance in the past two years have been insane.
As a businessman, I see that Google gives some positions to good companies, and not to those hoping to dominate search results as in the old days. The need for paid advertisement is real, and this is the main revenue stream for Google. It makes sense that a company will not give another the chance to dominate all the positions, as it will not pay for traffic.
The bottomline is that the free traffic involves employees or the business owner, content writer, and SEO specialists, among others the time to predict what Google will do next, budget, develop and design new websites, adopt light coding such as AMP and more. If so much money and time was spent on free listings, then in reality, SEO is no free traffic. It is more expensive than paid traffic as you gamble. You spend money on promoting something, but you are not certain of the result. With paid advertising, I am sure what the result will be, and I can set clear goals for the traffic I would like to generate.
People who are still in the SEO game are sick with the Hopeuim disease. The HOPE that what they did will result in top positions on search, and that will lead to more sales. As a businessman I can’t risk myself or my clients with the Hopeuim disease. I treat SEO as a paid campaign and not as a free listing, and I think you also should.
These days Google became an amazing smart robot. It can analyze text, voice and even videos. When you upload new content, Google knows what it is all about, and if you copied the content from a different website. When I promote my client’s websites I concentrate on few things:
Those are the top 5 metrics that I use to measure the performance of my client’s websites, and with these, are results to real business my clients can count.
Make your website count with a smart use of SEO and paid advertising. Let’s talk about how you would like your business to be found across Google searches, direct relevant to your website, and convert to sales you can count. Get in touch with us here.