There is this thing they call SEO, or search engine optimization for short. Perhaps you’ve heard about it. If you have a business website, I’m sure you have.
I first became aware of it around 1999 when I was busy growing my Goleta branding equipment company. We had a modest website then, and we were doing fine as far as sales were concerned because our field was fairly limited and there weren’t many branding iron competitors. We were always on the first page of a Google search for “branding irons.”
That’s where the idea of search engine optimization comes in. Wikipedia defines SEO as, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or unpaid search results.”
Then it goes on to say, “In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list,the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users
” (emphasis mine). Of course, you want to be on the first or second page of any web search because, human nature being what it is, people won’t go much further than about two pages if they are looking for your product. And if they don’t see you, they don’t buy from you.
Since the average search page shows about 10 entries, being on page one or page two means that there will be 19 other competitors trying to attract the searcher’s attention. Attracting attention is what gets you sales.
So, how do you get to be on page one or two? Ah! That’s the trick. But not to worry, there are search engine optimization companies out there (about 27.2 million of them by my last Google search) that will “guarantee” to get you on page one — for a modest fee, of course.
But here’s the question that I have never been able to have answered by any SEO company. Assuming that you have even a fairly narrow product line — say, pencil sharpeners, for example (which produced 2,070,000 “hits” on my last Google search) — how can all 27.2 million of them manage to get me, and all of my competitors, on those first two priceless pages?
To put it another way, I have 2.07 million competitors, and each of us wants to be one of the top 20 of a Google search, and there are 27.2 million SEO companies telling each of us that they can do that. When I do the numbers, I can’t help wondering about spending my money with a search engine optimization company.
Of course, if you are selling salami (23 million hits) or soap (258 million hits), it gets to be a little more of a problem and the question (to an SEO company) gets a lot harder.
In my next column, I will give you some ideas for doing your own optimization and how I used our website to reach our customers.
P.S. Believe it or not, there are SEO companies that are on page 76(!) of a Google search. These are the companies “guaranteeing” to get you on page one.
P.P.S. I welcome comments from SEO companies.