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Paul Burri: When Marketing Your Business, SEO Isn’t Everything

Seems to me there is a huge preoccupation with search engine optimization (SEO) these days. SEO is the “science” of getting your website to be on the first or second page of a Google search by a prospective customer. (At my last count there were 28 million companies out there selling search engine optimization services. What’s wrong with that picture?)

While I will admit there are important advantages to popping up on page one of a Google search, I maintain that if you are entirely focused on just SEO, you might be losing sight of several other important marketing parameters. Here are a few:

What about the product itself? Is your product or service something that is really useful and needed? It seems to me there isn’t much call for flypaper these days. Or telegrams. Or the slide rule that every engineer had to have when I was in high school. I suggest that one’s product be examined as dispassionately as possible. Is it one that has seen its time? Are there alternative products that do the job faster, easier or better?

Stop being in love with your product and look at it from the customer’s point of view. Maybe it’s time you got out of the mimeograph business. And maybe it isn’t so important to be on page one of a search if you are selling buggy whips.

Next, take a look at your website. Is it easily navigable — and by that I mean, can I find what I’m looking for quickly and easily? I’d hate to tell you how many websites have lost my business because I couldn’t figure out how to order the damn thing. In the early days of Internet advertising (which was around last Tuesday), there was a lot of talk about being “user-friendly.” I don’t hear that lately. Doesn’t anyone care about that anymore? They should.

Another fallacy about SEO, in my opinion, is the issue or importance of being on page one if your product is not competitive with others’ products. If you are charging way more than the competition, I probably won’t buy your product even if you are on page one. Spend more time being competitive and less time on a preoccupation with search positioning.

Here’s another idea. Think about driving traffic to your site other than by random Google searches. Let’s say you are selling canes and walkers for older people. You can try to be on page one when a prospect Googles “walkers.” But how about getting your prospect to go directly to your site without a Google search? How? Easy. Place modest (and inexpensive) ads in magazines or other periodicals that older people read, inviting them directly to your website, thus bypassing Google and the need for SEO. It works!

At one time, one of the markets for a business I owned was the beekeeping industry. Small ads in the two U.S. beekeeping journals (and one in Great Britain) brought us lots of business.

Jakob Nielsen, in his article titled “Search Engines as Leeches on the Web,” says, “It is considered wise business practice for website operators to liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic.” I totally agree.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer, guerrilla marketer and iconoclast. He is available to local organizations for speaking engagements and to local businesses for business consulting and/or mentoring. The opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the opinions or policies of any outside organization. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @BronxPaul, or click here to read previous columns.

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