Okay let’s imagine that research showed that having a plant in the front window of your business increased traffic.
And that somehow, magically, all the customers in the world were able to see your plant and the plants of all of your competition at the same time and were able to make a decision on which plant they liked the most. Okay now hold on to that image in your head.
Your website is the pot the plant goes in and it’s the seed. Everything else that happens to that plant – with the exception of you telling people face to face about your plant – is SEO.
What is SEO and what do those letters even stand for? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) describes the way that plant grows and there are three main types of SEO to consider. There’s organic SEO and, like the name implies, it’s about growing that plant in the healthiest and most optimal way, using methods that ensure growth is steady and consistent and exponential.
The other method is paid SEO. This is literally hiring a plant and putting it in front of your organic plant for customers to see. And finally, engaging in neither SEO method is the same as leaving that seed in the pot and waiting for it to grow all by itself.
Organic growth is obviously the slower route but the advantages are all growth is ground that you’ve gained – it doesn’t disappear when you stop paying money. You can define what key words are most important for every page of your website which creates more accurate hits in search engines attracting people which creates more successful results and conversions into sales and this is the equivalent of pruning and cultivating your plant.
Links to external resources and site – and links pointing back to your plant increase it’s growth and appeal and I guess you can compare this to fertilizing your plant. I’ve got analogies for repotting, sunlight, nutrients and so on but I think you’re getting the big picture.
Paid SEO fast tracks the process by allowing you to effectively hire a plant. How appealing that plant is and how interesting it might be to prospective customers is entirely dependent on how much you pay and the results can be spectacular but the price goes up the more competitive your industry is if you want to have the best plant on display. It’s like a plant show and the paid SEO contestants purchased their entries rather than grew them themselves but the rules of the show totally allow it. That’s right – the paid and the organic plants are going head to head.
And somewhere in the back are the plants that didn’t get any SEO. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it – most of those plants are still seeds.
They never grew.
The only time people see those plants is when their owners take them out and show them. Some of them are actually quite lovely but the world just doesn’t get to see them. Others are dead and some have cancer and some have become man eaters and yes, I am definitely hamming this up to make neglecting SEO seem awful, irresponsible and maybe even dangerous.
But the bottom line is neglected plants, even when they grow grow wild and in the off chance a search engine actually finds it, the search engines make their own decisions about what kind of plant you have and how to show it off to the customers who can magically see it at the plant show.
If your industry is a super competitive blood sport then you probably need to consider paid SEO because I guarantee the competition who are most successful online already are.
The good news is it’s possible to look at the SEO they’re using – both organic and paid and figure out strategies on how to compete and even implement some of what’s working for them. Google will tell you what the average spend is for your industry so you can decide just how large you need to go to be competitive and, if the industry is cut throat then it’s best to take big bites rather than nibble.
But just know that the moment you stop paying for SEO it stops and the results you’ve accumulated so far are what you walk away with.
Organic SEO is great for less competitive or niche industries and can in fact be enough in the earlier stages. Organic SEO is solid growth and you keep your gains so we could use bodybuilding or cholesterol analogies to reinforce this. You also build up things like domain authority – how seriously Google ranks your domain for your industry and this impacts your site’s ranking. Like bodybuilding, you can’t fake domain authority – it needs to be built over time so nobody walking into the gym or the nursery for the first time can match you. And of course organic SEO can run successfully in parallel to paid SEO. It’s not a pick and choose scenario.
Finally there’s the toss a seed in a pot and see what happens strategy. The ‘watch a Schwartzenegger movie marathon from the sofa on Netflix and wait for the six pack and biceps to form’ gambit. If you like to talk about plants then this is enough but within 18 months you’re probably going to join the ‘plants don’t get you any business’ brigade.
But if you want a plant that’s going to win the gold ribbon then you’re going to have to do a little work and make some decisions or pay one hell of a gardener.
I offer a service that audits your site’s current SEO – take a look…