Talking People Out of SEO #2: Why ROI Is Everything


High ROI SEOUnscrupulous SEO agencies, let me count thy ways…

  • Thou shalt tout SEO as the be-all and end-all of online marketing which generates masses of free traffic to those with the wisdom to hire thy agency to do it
  • Thou shalt pretend complete ignorance of the term ROI
  • Thou shalt make enormous promises of boosting Google rank and getting websites to the first page without making reference to personalised search
  • Thou shalt guarantee top spot for overly specific long tail keywords which are not necessarily relevant to thy client’s business needs
  • Thou shalt measure results purely on the basis of rankings or page traffic rather than meaningful business metrics
  • Thou shalt not provide any useful reports or insights on work carried out each month except thy invoices to thy client
  • Thou shalt content spam, link spam, article spin and generally use incredibly black hat SEO tactics, in thy mercy…

Why ROI Is Everything

In the first part of this series of seven articles examining reasons not to do dedicated search engine optimisation work on a website, we looked into the reasons why SEO might not be the be all and end all of online marketing in your business sector. Now let’s look at the reason behind that – ROI, or, for the TLA impaired, return on investment.

This all boils down to simple mathematics, but it is amazing – and a bit depressing – how few businesses seem able to do these sums. Let’s walk through a couple of examples.

Business A has a comprehensive online marketing strategy. It has a dedicated marketing department who spend upwards of 50 hours a week on SEO link building, content generation, Tweets and other marketing activities. Business B is a smaller company where the owner-manager is the only person who does any marketing. He spends maybe 4 hours a week writing new content for his website and occasionally making a social media post. The rest of the time he’s off doing other things – taking sales calls, managing finances, making coffee, whatever.

Without any additional information it would seem like Business A will be more successful. They should have an enormous website, excellent SEO, impressive social media and surely oodles of customers. Business B is hardly doing any marketing at all by comparison, so surely it will be less successful?

Actually, experience shows that the opposite is often true – less really can be more when it comes to SEO or any other online marketing activity. Spending 50 hours every week working on website ranking and social media content may make for a very impressive-looking site and a Twitter account with thousands of followers, but it doesn’t automatically equal lots of business.

Say for example that Business A is selling industrial plumbing supplies. Even if you have veritable armies of marketers producing the most exciting and beautifully-written content about plumbing ever written by mankind, at the end of the day it just isn’t that thrilling, except to people with certain specialised interests...such as other people who sell industrial plumbing supplies. All that content, all those Tweets, all that effort, is going to have a terrible return on investment because the only people who will be loyally following their posts and avidly subscribing to their newsletters will be their competitors, and if they’re lucky perhaps some students at the local vocational college who are looking for some project reference material. In this case it would be better to downsize the online marketing department to one or two people to handle PPC and keeping the website up to date, and put the rest of the budget into Adwords or perhaps use it to hire some more staff to chase up the big tender invitations.

Take this a step further and imagine that Business B is a small hobbycraft company that sells supplies for model railroads. The owner here spends most of his time tracking down unusual or hard to find products to sell on his website, which naturally attracts more clientele as he is trying to offer competitive prices on must-have items. His marketing activity is considerably less, restricted to the occasional blog post or quickly answering a question asked by a hobbyist on his Facebook account, but he is swimming in business because he offers people what they want and doesn’t make them wade through tons of material to get to the interesting bits.

The above are of course trivial and blasé examples. Of course a certain level of marketing input is needed to get an edge over competitors and ensure a stream of business in a challenging marketplace, but every single item on the marketing to do list should be subject to an ROI measurement.

How much does it cost you to make ten Tweets a day? Say you hire a marketer for £50 an hour who spends an hour a day on social media for you. That’s £250 a week. That’s £1,000 a month. Do those Tweets really bring in enough new business to justify this expense? Now take other things. Do you spend thousands of pounds on content generation and backlink development, only for most of your good leads to come in from PPC advertising? Maybe cutting back on SEO and putting more budget into Adwords would grow your business more. Spend £10k a month on Adwords but see more good leads come in on SEO? Try cutting the advertising spend and plugging more into your SEO.

These sorts of calculations should be going through a marketer’s mind at all times when planning campaigns and strategies or even undertaking these regular activities. The aim of the game is not just to get your name in lights at the top of Google – it is to bring in more leads, get more customers spending money and grow your business in a sustainable and long term way. So before you splash out on £30k a year for that smart young graduate who is promising to get you ten thousand Likes on Facebook, ask yourself how exactly that will benefit you from a financial perspective or if you’re just buying into the hype and forgetting that marketing exists to serve the aims of a business, not the other way around.

If you’re baffled by blogs and lost in links, pick up the phone and call 0330 555 4680 today to find out how Cornish WebServices can help you build a sensible and sustainable set of online marketing to include SEO, PPC, social media and more.

PS we build beautiful websites too!

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