6 Signs You Should Invest in SEO

Peter Chen


“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.” – Jeff Eisenberg

Just as you don’t need to be a mechanic to recognize when your car starts pulling to the left or burning fuel faster than normal, you don’t need to be a web guru to know when your website is struggling in the search engines. Fortunately, a poor performing website won’t leave you stranded along the side of the road, but it will waste your investment in web design and a valuable opportunity to generate leads 24/7—something to think about while watching your competitors zip by. There are probably hundreds of signs that it’s time to invest in SEO that have fallen through the crack because you’re too busy running a business, so here are six of the most obvious signs to get you started.

1. Your website isn’t ranking for your brand name

As hard as it is to believe, ranking well even for your own brand name isn’t a sure thing in the intricate world of search engines. There is however, typically a logical explanation. For one, your brand name might bear too close a resemblance to other names or popular search terms. If Google can’t differentiate your company from another, more established company—even if it sells an entirely different product to an entirely different market—you’re already working at a disadvantage. You can try winning the popularity contest, but that’s generally only worth the investment if the gap is marginal. A multi-faceted approach will help you build your brand and your page authority (an important metric in the eyes of the search engines), which will see your website rank higher for searches using your company name.

Of course, if Google has de-indexed your website, the remedy will be entirely different. It’s important to keep in mind that search engines operate in the best interest of the user, so any attempt to fool the system or artificially inflate your site’s stature can be grounds for removal. Google cites specific examples such as participating in link-building schemes or generating content automatically as infractions to avoid. Banishment isn’t forever, but getting back on the search engines can take time and effort. Usually it involves cleaning up the issue first.

2. Your PPC (pay-per-click) spending is becoming overwhelming

Many people like to pit SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) against each other, but it doesn’t have to be an either or scenario. In fact, they are meant to complement each other. The trick is knowing when to use which.

First, a distinction: while SEO can be considered an organic method of boosting a website’s position in the search engines (think hard work and elbow grease), there’s nothing natural about PPC. PPC is the equivalent of cutting to the front of the line—you are paying to position your ad on the first page of the search engine for certain terms. Every time someone clicks on that ad and is directed to your site, you pay a fee. As you can imagine, this is not a sustainable solution, nor was it intended to be one.

Although PPC offers instant gratification, it is a costly solution and only becomes costlier if the keywords are competitive or the ads are generating too many unqualified leads. Put simply, SEO is a long-term strategy. You won’t receive results overnight (be wary of anyone who promises otherwise), but when you invest in SEO you are investing in your most valuable marketing and lead-generation tool: your website. It works 24/7, and the SEO strength can be carried on through website redesigns.

3. Nobody can find your business in Google Maps

Today, people search for and find information in an amazing variety of ways. A shift toward more localized search in Google has dramatically increased opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to get noticed. All the pinpoints are the same size on a map, but first you’ve got to be there and, ideally, in the right place.

Since Google grabs location data from a variety of sources, it’s possible for your business to appear in the wrong place on Google Maps. A business 101 lesson would probably tell you that customers need to be able to find you before they can purchase anything. If your business isn’t showing up in the right place on Google Maps, it’s likely due to a lack of consistency in your NAP: name, address and phone number. Conflicting data or duplicate locations will confuse Google and, by extension, your customers. The key is to correct the problem at the source (or sources).

4. You are generating few or no qualified leads

Is there anything more disappointing as a business owner? You invest in a brand new website, thinking it will revolutionize your sales process, only to see visitor after visitor leave before buying. If your website statistics show a respectable amount of traffic, it means people are not getting what they expect when they click on your ad or your listing in the search engine. There is a disconnect between what you advertised and what you delivered.

Here is where PPC can really help: by setting up a campaign using different keywords, you can monitor and pinpoint the terms that generate the most clicks and leads. With this information you (or your SEO provider) can optimize your website with the most effective and relevant keywords.

5. You suddenly stopped ranking on Google

If you’ve read about any of the high-profile declines on Google, you’ve probably figured out it can happen to anyone. Still, the effects can be devastating, all the more so when you don’t know the cause. Drops in ranking are a common occurrence after algorithm updates, such as Panda or Penguin (not as cute and cuddly as they sound). Many websites also suddenly lose their position or are banned completely after incurring a penalty from Google, sometimes with site admin not even realizing they did anything wrong. Keyword stuffing, link-building schemes, scraped content and hidden text are just a few of the many negative practices that can send your website to the back of the line—and your customers into the arms of a competitor.

6. Your competitors are doing it

Count yourself lucky if you occupy the only market without competitors. For everyone else competition is a fact of life and frankly, it’s also as good a reason as any to invest in SEO.

As study after study (and probably your personal experience) will show, the first page in a search engine means everything. Numbers as high as 92% have been thrown around to highlight just how much traffic comes from listings on the first page in an average search. Once you account for paid listings at the top of a page, that doesn’t leave a lot of space for your website.

Final note

A savvy business owner never invests in something that can’t be measured, and SEO should be no different. Key metrics and hard numbers are available to provide you with an accurate picture of ROI, to show you exactly why SEO is a worthwhile investment for your business; it only becomes a problem when someone hides their methodologies under the cloak of “magic.” In reality SEO is a lot of hard work, and it’s meant to be a long-term strategy. Otherwise, anybody could get to the first page of Google and how would that benefit the user?


Peter Chen

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