I recently had a conversation with the proprietor of a local hotel about how many people were looking for accommodation online. Now understand, this particular market of online advertising is huge, at least in places where tourism is popular.
But a quick search of statistics from Google showed us an important fact. In our town (Carmi, Illinois, population hovering around 5,500), the number of people searching for hotel rooms here was so small as to not even register with Google. So the value of holding the top position for Google searches of rooms in Carmi is worth approximately zero.
What’s more, as there are only three accommodations in Carmi, it won’t take much to come up on page one of Google results. You can do this with nothing but a Facebook page even.
So why do people in situations like this invest in search engine optimization?
There are two main reasons. First, if you have a website, it’s almost impossible not to hear about search engine optimization, or SEO as it’s called. You will likely be getting spam from businesses pointing out that you’re not on page one (even if you are), and for a small fee they can get you there. You hear about it on the news, in marketing workshops – anyplace that discusses online marketing will devote entire sections to SEO.
Second, it seems to make sense. Most people use Google, therefore it’s important to be on the top of Google’s search results. Since it makes sense, it’s an easy sell, and there are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there looking for the quick buck who are happy to take your money and so some work on your site which is essentially invisible to you.
They can even show results, like in the example mentioned above. It doesn’t take rocket scientist to get you on the first page of the search results when you only have two competitors and Google has ten places on page one.
So when do you need SEO? When people are looking for your services online, and you don’t come up on the first page. For example, tracking is big in southern Illinois at the moment, and there are a lot of people coming to the area to scout out drilling locations. These people need a place to stay. But they’ll be searching region wide, not town specific. A good SEO plan will get you found on searches beyond local searches.
If you are trying to market your business nationwide, SEO is critical. My photography business relies on sales throughout the country, mainly to publishers and editors on the east coast. A lot of my photographs are of locations on the east coast, so if I want to sell prints there, it’s essential I have good SEO.
But here’s the ugly truth … SEO is incredibly time consuming. So if you’re paying someone to do it for you, you can expect to pay through the nose.
Green Man advertising and design offers a basic SEO package which will get you going locally. But to keep on top of the results in a competitive market, you have to continually work your site – adding relevant content, and you have to do it to Google’s specifications. I can teach you how, which unless you’re a large business with a large advertising budget, is the only way you’ll be able to afford it.
And if someone comes to you with a sales pitch that says otherwise, look closely and make sure they don’t have slits instead of pupils in their eyes. With SEO, snake oil salesmen are everywhere.
To get the straight poop on SEO and all things advertising related, get a free consultation with Green Man Design and Advertising. Click here to find out more.