It’s no secret that Search Engine marketing can drive significant amounts of very qualified traffic to a web site, as 85% of Internet users utilize search engines to find or research goods/services. The problem for many companies is the difficulty that they face sifting through conflicting information and hyperbole! Here is my top five list of myths that need to be run to ground.
Big Picture Myth One
Search engine ranking leads are not as good as those which originate from traditional marketing vehicles (print, direct mail, PR, etc.) this is absolute hogwash, the truth is many agencies don’t have a clue about s/e ranking, so they push their clients to ignore this form of advertising. They simply don’t want to recommend anything they don’t understand and/or utilize an interactive marketing vehicle that requires a blend of very specialized technology and processes.
We’ve in fact found just the opposite when we’ve analyzed s/e traffic versus other types of leads for our clients; i.e. search engine traffic can be much better, as it is comprised of individuals who are actively seeking info, not just people whose curiosity has been piqued by an eye-catching publication ad or press release. And, when we’ve analyzed the data by tracking leads via a landing page (on a web site) we’ve discovered that CPL (cost per lead) numbers can be much lower for s/e ranking than other more traditional marketing methods.
Big Picture Myth Two
Effective s/e marketing can be done in house this is rarely the case, the sheer complexity and online competition (digital warfare!) for rankings makes this extremely difficult for most companies. Based upon our analysis over 73% of corporate accounts don’t understand the basic fundamentals; i.e. how to properly use keywords, meta tags and titles and worse, don’t submit their web sites to top tier Directories (Yahoo, LookSmart, OPD) and the hundreds of second tier directories.
Most companies delegate the s/e submissions to the webmaster or web site development staff and they just don’t have the time to understand the daunting complexities required to generate page 1-3 rankings - or to stay abreast of the shifting submissions and ranking criteria standards, as modified monthly by top tier search engines. And, in many companies the s/e ranking is added to the over worked webmaster’s tasks purely as an afterthought as opposed to being addressed formally by the marketing department, with dedicated personnel and a budget.
Big Picture Myth Three
Off the shelf software that submits a site to thousands of web sites and presents snazzy reports can do it all. This is so inaccurate and nothing can be further from the truth. It takes a tremendous amount of labor and time to identify keyword sets (not just words), optimize the content for these keywords, submit the pages while obeying the rules of the road and then continually analyzing rankings and tweaking to maintain and drive rankings (web site visibility).
Software can certainly help to automate some facets of the process and be used for back end analysis but you can’t expect any application to make the job easy, there is too much inherent complexity in the processes. And, competition for keyword sets is fierce as there are an estimated 5-10M registered domains (the numbers vary widely) with 60K new domains being registered every day.
Big Picture Myths Four and Five
Any page listing will help to drive traffic to a web site. This is another misconception. If you are aren’t achieving page 1-3 rankings then your wasting a great deal of time and resources. Most people never drill down below these pages. Another common mistake is trying to achieve s/e rankings for a specific URL or product. If people know the name of a company or product they will find your web site easily, it’s a waste of resources to optimize for these specialized terms in 80% of most cases.
As you can see, there is more to search engine optimization than meets the eye, but it is a necessary pursuit for those wishing to maximizie the quantity – and quality – of their site's traffic.