“My business is down significantly from last year. Can you help with my SEO?”
As a consultant, I hear this question a lot from small or medium sized business (SMB) owners. In the past, without doing anything, they used to have excellent listings on page 1 of Google Search. And could count on a certain percentage of sales coming from that traffic. But now it’s not happening. “Can you fix my SEO?” is a request I often get in various ways.
Here are some other variants of the same question.
There is often a misunderstanding of linking SEO to your entire business. That fact is, SEO is only 1 part of equation of how your business is represented online. There are many other factors to consider.
As a business owner who needs help with SEO, here is a partial list of questions you should be REALLY asking yourself about your business. I break this list into 11 categories:
As you can see from the list of about 20 questions or so, SEO is only 1 factor you should be thinking about.
In the past, your listings on Google was the only thing you needed to worry about to get customer online. There was no other way to find a business other than to search for it on Google Search. Today, that is no longer the case. Besides, Google, and Bing, Baidu, there are many others services that are really search engines in disguise. There are directory listings such as Yelp & GuruNavi. There are marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy. There online resources such as Redit and Quora are others. Need graphic content for your website, you are likely to search on iStockPhoto or some other services. Whatever your niche is, there may be a more personalized search engine you need to optimize for besides just Google.
Also, in the past, it was way easy to improve your SEO with. Google’s algorithms were strongly weighted toward the number of links pointing your website. This gave rise to low cost “Link Farms”, were people could literally buy thousands of links from private blog networks. But with Google’s Penguin and Panda updates around 2012, the days of buying cheap links to get better SEO are gone. These days, once you get past the minimum viable SEO, it becomes much more work to rank above your competitors.
Also, search engines are now taking into account online reviews. Your reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google+ and other review sites are now given strong weighting in search results. So you may have really good SEO to get you in the “3-Pack” of Google search results. But if your business has only 2 out of 5 stars for reviews, you are unlikely to get the clicks.
And search engines are very “context sensitive” these days. So even if you did all right things SEO-wise, your business still may not show up due to the user’s previous history and search patterns.
And let’s say you have good SEO, and are ranking high for your favorite keyword search phrases, but still you may discover you are not getting a whole lot of business. Many businesses don’t carefully consider the online experience once a users get’s on to their site. This field is known as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
You see, to be a successful business online, it goes way beyond just what’s on your web site. You need to take into account your entire “Online Presence”, as well as your online sales “Funnel” for bringing in your customers.
Your Online Presence includes the following factors:
In future blog articles, I’ll be talking more about your Online Presence, as well as your Conversion Funnels. But for today, the key takeaway you should have here is this, if your just asking for “help with my SEO”, you are probably not asking the right set of questions. SEO is just one part of your Complete Online Presence. There are many other important factors as well that make up your complete “online presence”.
Jeff Crawford is a Digital Marketing expert, technologist and Manager. He has worked for technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Apple, WebTV and Microsoft. He has lived in Tokyo Japan since 2004, working for companies such as Microsoft KK and Adobe Systems Japan. Jeff is founder of Zo Digital Japan, an SEO and Digital Marketing agency based in Tokyo. Jeff started the Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup in 2016, which now has over 2000 members. He has also presented about Digital Marketing at such events as Ad-Tech Tokyo, WordCamp Tokyo, Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), and the Japan Association of Translators (JAT).