SEO or search engine optimization is the process of doing a bunch of technical wizardry to your website to get to the first page of Google.
Believe me, using SEO to grow your local business was the cat’s pajamas for many years. The key metric for SEO is to get your website on the first page of Google, but is that really that big of a deal today?
The SEO geeks have a joke:
Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?
–On page two of Google.
But here’s the deal that joke needs a new, more accurate punchline.
–on the bottom of page 1.
Let’s look at a recent study from WordStream that examined where most consumers click on a search results page.
The study found, that 89% of consumers will click on a result above the scroll.
What exactly is the above the scroll? Google Ads and the Maps section.
In terms of driving customers to your business, the WordStream article had even harsher news for people doing SEO.
If the term the consumer searches for on Google has a high buyer intent, such as plumber near me, or best roofing company then 67% of the time they will click only on an ad. Marinate on that for a minute….
If the search term is local in focus such as air conditioner repair Scottsdale or a branded term such as Rodney’s towing company then there is only a 50/50 chance the consumer will click on either an ad or an organic result.
Ok, let me rant a bit here….if you are Rodney’s Towing company and you are not running Google Ads, but your main competitor Bob’s Easy Tow is running Google Ads, that consumer that was searching specifically for you is just as likely to call Bob as they are to call you.
Yep. That sucks.
Ok. I can hear you all the way from here….. Google Ads are expensive. And of course that answer can be true if you don’t have the time to dial in the campaign.
But let me ask you this…how expensive will it be if you go you go out of business?
Of course to really answer the question—to advertise or not to advertise we only need to jump in our DeLorean and go back in time before the Internet made it so dog-gone easy to promote a local business.
Nice branding for sure, but in 2019 it is not much different than having a website. If your building was a busy street you may have more people driving by for sure, just like if you were located somewhere at the bottom of page 1.
People will see you, but if the pipes break they may or may not remember you.
Not a bad way to go and this method works exactly the same way today as it did before the Internet changed things. However, to do it right it takes a lot of time, and while that may appear to be free, how valuable is your time?
Personally I would rather spend my time doing billable work. Plus, let’s be real, you will get an occasional referral for sure, but is this system scalable?
So if people have historically purchased advertising to promote their business, why on Earth is there so much push back to make that investment in now?
The learning curve for Google Ads can be really steep, and Google has set up an environment not much different than a casino. It is a rigged system that is ensures the house always wins. By design AdWords Express is super easy to use and launch. Also by design, it has none of the advanced optimization features of the complicated main Google Ads platform that can be used to bring down costs and increase conversions.
Full disclaimer, I love Google Ads. It is without a doubt the quickest and when done correctly, cost effective way to generate customers for a business. Note I said, when done correctly.
It is complicated. The traditional method, just ranking on the first page may not be the best investment of your marketing dollars. I will let you answer this question, should you pay someone $2,000 a month to rank your website on the first page if no one is ever going to scroll past the ads and the maps to see your website?
Now, if your SEO contractor can get you into the Maps that is a much better goal. That section is at least something that a consumer will actually see when they are searching for your service.
And here’s the real dirty little secret about the Maps and you can check it out for yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do or sell, in terms of ranking in the Maps section Google is going to treat your business like a pizza place.
If you are hungry for pizza, you most likely just want to find the closest place to go pick up a pie. Google understands that, so if you search for pizza near me, the results will be the pizza places closest to your physical location. That make sense and for pizza it is cool.
But if the IRS has a beef with your tax returns and you need to find the best tax attorney. You’d be ok driving across town to find best one. Hey, it’s the IRS, you probably would be ok driving to a nearby city if the attorney is really the best of the best.
But that is not how the ranking results are with Google Maps works. Those three spots are going to be the ones closest to your location.
If you happen to be located in a suburb, but regularly work in the main city, you are never ever going to show up in the Maps section even if you are the best of the best at what you do.
The buyers never scroll past the ads. If someone is searching specifically for you, your advertising competitor has a 50/50 chance of stealing your potential customer.
The competition for the top organic results is limited to the three companies closest to the searcher.
If you want to grow your business, you need to go old school and advertise your business. From that same WordStream article—for every dollar a business puts into Google Ads, they get on average $2 back.
Can you measure the SEO’s ROI?
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