Steering you in the right direction.


It might be one of the most commonly used terms among modern marketing jargon. It’s almost certainly one of the least understood terms. Even experts who provide SEO don’t fully understand it. This is because the term is always shifting, changing to encompass more and more subjects. In essence, the definition remains stable, SEO is about perfecting digital content for the express purpose of achieving better results on Google (or any Search Engine). The part that makes it harder to grasp is that there is a myriad of techniques, procedures and efforts that can potentially achieve the desired results. Just to make sure that there isn’t a clear leader among the methods, the effectiveness of each technique varies based on (undisclosed) changes to search engine programming. To further confound us all, the types of SEO that will yield measurable results for one business or another is dependent upon the business category, popular opinion, consumer behavior and the competitive landscape. With all of these factors conspiring to ensure that the very concept of SEO remains as ceaselessly shifting as the everlasting sea, how does one get enough of a handle on the subject to actually benefit?

Many businesses, especially small businesses chose to ignore SEO. They’ve heard about it enough to make them seasick, but without an understanding of it, they balk at the (sometimes) high cost. Others have spent hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on it, without any measurable success. In either case, they avoid it, leaving it to their competitors entirely or placing only a token effort into the subject. A lot of SEO professionals are well-equipped to provide one of the many types of services that can result in your brand appearing more often and/or higher in customer search results. However, most of these professionals are very ready to sell you their particular brand of SEO, whether you need that service or not. In the cases where they do enough types of SEO to move the needle for your business, or you get lucky and hire the service that happens to be the most beneficial, it will seem like magic. If they don’t manage to move the needle with their specialty, you might think that SEO doesn’t work, at least not for you.

Your website is like a sailing ship and the sails are SEO.

Your website is the source of your digital presence. Advertising, social media and all of your other online efforts are intended to send visitors to your website. This is key, because you control the content of your website. Driving traffic to your Facebook page is mostly good for Facebook. Your website is like a sailing ship and the sails are SEO. No matter how beautifully built, how well designed, without sails the only people who will see your ship are those who already knew were it was and came looking. The ocean is a vast sea made up of Google and Bing and the infinite pathways and search result combinations that may or may not bring your customers to you. Over 200 million active websites sail those seas every day (of the 1.5 billion that exist). Search engine algorithms are the winds and consumer trends are the tide. A ship owner does not need to understand how the royals undercut the crosswinds or how the jib improves tacking to know that they bring his ship across the waves.

The Sails are SEO

SEO, like sails, is a tried and true method to move forward. And, like sails, SEO cannot necessarily be handled by just anyone. A skilled yachtsman for example may not be able to rig a freighter. So how does a business owner or website owner wade into this analogy and find his way through? A failed SEO campaign, or fears of entering into a large project with experts you don’t understand in a subject you don’t follow are no reason to hold back. Instead, proceed cautiously. Hire an expert or a consultant who can steer you towards the right types of SEO, rather than his own specialty. Look for someone who is willing to start with a small engagement to test the waters and see which tactics will be most effective for your business or brand. Your monthly investment should be something sustainable to your current income, rather than a financial burden that you could only maintain if you had unprecedented success. Oftentimes a modest budget of under a thousand dollars per month is enough to begin to discover which techniques and strategies are going to yield the best results. As strategies are uncovered, that same budget can be redeployed to perpetuate techniques and explore supporting tactics, raising the budget only as results are realized.

Like a sailing ship’s captain, a skilled SEO provider tests the winds and currents, sensing changes and taking advantage of your capabilities in the ever-shifting sea.

Rich Harris
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