Whenever I talk to business people about SEO, the most common reply is “SEO is dead, isn’t it?”, or words to that effect. It’s such a strange thing for small business owners to assume, it’s probably hugely hindering their businesses, and it’s ABOUT AS UNTRUE AS ANYTHING POSSIBLY CAN BE.
Right, that’s off my chest, I’ll stop yelling now 😉
Where does the “SEO is dead” myth come from?
The SEO is dead myth is related to the misunderstanding about what SEO is or was. Search Engine Optimisation means to optimise web pages to ensure they perform as well as they possibly can for organic search, it’s still just as important as it ever has been, even more so in fact, and SEO being dead would mean that organic search is dead. How can that possibly the case since organic search is responsible for most of the online traffic and revenue on the web?
What IS dead, is the buying and selling of backlinks to make it simple to push a website up the ranking without doing actual SEO work, and other loop holes that so called SEO specialists and marketing agencies were taking advantage of for several years. This is what lead to the SEO is dead Myth.
Fake SEO is DEAD
So what is actually dead, is FAKE SEO. In the late 90s and early 00s, most of the people selling search engine optimisation services were not actually doing SEO, they were using fake SEO thanks to loop holes that Google hadn’t found a way yet to deal with algorithmically.
Paid Backlinks: FAKE SEO
Link farms and other backlinking cheats: FAKE SEO
Article spinning and blasting out to millions of websites via article networks: FAKE SEO
Fake SEO is anything which is only going to work for the short term, until Google grow wise to it – real SEO has stood the test of time since the birth of the internet and the development of search engines. If real SEO is done on your website, you should expect results from this for years to come. If fake SEO is implemented, then it just depends on what it is when it comes to whether it will have any positive impact and how long it is likely to last, and whether there is any kind of penalty at the end.
These firms and consultants made huge amounts of money for doing what they called SEO, but it really wasn’t, these kinds of activities were not real SEO, they were focusing purely on elements that were never going to work for the long term.
I remember back in the around 2002 or 2003, being frustrated at the fact that most of my potential SEO clients were being sold by firms who were just buying and selling backlinks. I knew that these firms were going to pay the price at some point, and I told them, but they probably just thought I was using sales tactics to try to stop them going to a competitor. A year or two later, and nearly all of these websites that were enjoying top Google ranking via paid backlinks and other fake SEO tactics, just dropped into oblivion.
At this point there was a lot of hate from small to medium business, and larger businesses too, towards Google and SEO, and the SEO is dead myth was brought to life, along with lots of other nonsense about Google and SEO. Funnily enough this myth has probably proved helpful to Google in terms of adwords revenue, as many people now believe that the only way to be on Google is via Google Adwords.
SEO is actually even more alive than ever!
The MOZ Ecommerce benchmark study 2016, a study involving Google Analytics insights from over 80 million website sessions and over 250 million dollars in online revenue for travel and retail websites, showed that Google organic traffic was the no1 source of traffic, and of revenue – and in fact organic traffic had grown 5% since the last study, not fallen. They concluded from this data “The death of SEO? Hell no!”
Over 65 billion dollars was spent on SEO in 2016, and stats indicate that this is going to be at about 80 billion by 2020, the investment in SEO is continually growing, this wouldn’t be the case if SEO was dead.
Another Myth – SEO is Expensive
Another myth I hear is that SEO is very expensive. SEO can actually be affordable for most small to medium businesses as long as it is being done right, and the search terms being focussed on are within the reach of the website at that time – and effective SEO is an investment, you should be expecting a return from your investment in SEO.
I offer affordable SEO services, for example, if a small local business comes to me and wants me to do some work on their website to get them ranked towards the top of search locally within their town, the amount of work I actually need to do including hands on work and consulting with the client to inform them of what they need to do going forward to help their SEO in terms of social media etc., would mean a bill from somewhere around a hundred quid up, depending on how much work I have to do, which is generally about 4 hours or so. SEO doesn’t have to be hugely expensive, it just depends on how time consuming it is, and the hourly rate of the firm or the consultant you’re hiring.
I’ve just done some work for a beauty salon to get them ranked top of Google within their town, it took me about 4 hours of work, and I charged them $120. This included setting up Google Analytics and Google search console, so that they can keep track of what impact my work has had on their traffic and revenue. It also includes the time I spent informing them of what they can do on a weekly basis going forward to continue to improve their SEO.
SEO can cost much more than this when competitive national or international search terms are the target, big projects like this for larger companies can require up to one to two years of work. When you’re starting with a relatively new website with zero Google authority, and the aim is to push this website into the top of Google for a wide range of highly competitive search terms, this is time consuming, and time is money. So big SEO projects are less affordable for smaller businesses with more modest budgets.
So again here this myth is based on a misunderstanding. Yes, some SEO projects are expensive, but the digital marketing budget for a bigger business with millions in funding is obviously going to be far bigger than the almost non existent marketing budget of most small businesses.
Many clients I speak to were under the impression that SEO was something they would have to sign into a contract for and then pay monthly for a year. Again this is something that would be more likely to be the case for a larger project that was going to take up to a year. This myth is also not helped by the fact that there are many marketing agencies who cold call small businesses trying to convince them that they need to sign into a 12 month contract for SEO.
My SEO clients are given a description of what I’m about to do, and the cost. It’s a one off job, which usually takes me around four hours or so for most small businesses. I do the work, I show them what I’ve done, I give them some info on what they should be doing going forward to increase results, and they pay me – usually not that much more than a hundred quid, I don’t charge over the odds.