This might seem strange to you coming from someone who is dedicated to SEO, but there are many situations where organic searches may not be the best option for a marketing challenge.
In fact, there are times when SEO simply does not fit. In this article, we will look at some common scenarios that I have witnessed, where SEO was not your best option.
This is one of the main problems and also the most common. The business wants to appear for a certain keyword, for a certain time, with a limited budget. At the end of the day, you should see the full picture and regardless of whether you are a local or national business, you must be realistic about what your spending should be to take your business where you want.
Estimating the cost of SEO projects is often very difficult on its own. There are many variables, but in most cases, when using specialized tools, you can see how the competition is and what should be the approach you should pursue.
Of course, even once you have managed to appear in first positions, there is still a lot of work to be done, and although this is cheaper than trying to reach them, you should consider this factor in your budget.
The amount of budget available can also lead people to the obscure side of SEO. There will always be someone willing to do things wrong and not follow the Google guides to improve your positions in the short term … but in the long it will do you more damage.
- Term of time
The time frame is usually closely related to the budget, and there is commonly a desire to be in the first results at a certain time. Again, it is impossible to say how long this will take.
In first, SEO can and usually is a mobile target. Also, if you are on the third page and you want to go to the first page, you have to work alone to know what you have to do to make the jump. Typically, the closer you are to the first page, the improvements take more time and the results may vary.
As well as to determine a budget, you should be able to give you an idea of the digital mountain that you will have to climb and be able to approximate a time in which you will achieve your goals.
- Ad competition
Although much has been said about Penguin and Panda and other components of the algorithm that aggressively attack low-quality content or attempts to manipulate the results, the real war against SPAM is on the page’s design team.
Google’s recent moves to show four ads at the beginning of the SERPs for some results and make it even larger have moved the organic results further down the page. If you add the links on the site and the ad extensions, you can have more than 20 links before the first organic result. Add local results, images, news and other content on that page and organic results for some very commercial terms, may simply not be enough or attractive.
The competition for ad spaces is also very complicated. Advertisers have to keep an eye on which keywords are working and should create landing pages and creative and perfect ad texts to ensure that organic results have fewer and fewer clicks.
- Incorrect keywords
We see this frequently and there is often the case that some keywords are unlikely to deliver results, while others do not work because there is no strategy in place to convert those clicks into customers. The best example here would be where the searches for informative keywords are focused, but the user arrives at a specific commercial page; for example, “the best LCD TVs” takes the user to a page that lists LCD TVs instead of an article or comparison to help that user make a purchase decision.
It is often not clear how a particular set of terms will behave, and therefore, we might want to do some basic tests with PPC to better determine the value of those keywords. Buying 1000 clicks and demonstrating results with some simple sums to determine the metrics can help you dodge an SEO bullet.
You might see some resistance against this approach, but a one-month PPC campaign that does not produce any results is better than a six-month SEO campaign that positions the terms without the results.
Finally, Google is so smart now that the positioning of specific terms absolutely requires the best content for that search term. So again, if you are not capable or not willing to create that content, this may not be the best SEO strategy for you.
The lines become somewhat blurry between content marketing, social networks and SEO once we move to the informative end of the keyword spectrum, so make sure your strategy allows this.
There are many ways in which keywords may not be the best fit, from ad competition to only being strategically removed by a few degrees. Search for your keywords to work before committing to a long-term campaign.
- New business
Organic search can take time and effort, so if you’re establishing yourself in an existing and highly competitive industry other than absolutely requiring quick results, SEO may not be right for you. Even in the local commercial space, we can see that campaigns take three months or more to produce results.
If speed is important to you, you might want to focus on a marketing tactic that can produce results quickly. Then, slowly try to build your separate organic traffic, while carefully measuring the results of your organic campaign.
- New products or services
If you do not have much awareness about the product or service that is being launched, SEO may not be the best option. If nobody is looking for you or what you do, then nobody will find you.
In this context, you need to focus on the points that cause pain to your customers so that you can focus on them with ads or content that increases their awareness of your product or service. You will seek a more typical channelized approach that will let the prospect know about you and then educate you about how your product will make your life easier, generate money and / or save you time.
- Aim only at the first position
SEO is a game, so if you are targeting highly commercial search terms through organic search, there will always be competition. There is no magic formula about this and if you take a bite of someone else’s digital apple you are likely to want to bite yours too.
Instead of focusing on the positions, which are scaly and variable due to a myriad of algorithmic factors such as location and personalization, focus on the return on investment in organic searches relative to other channels and consider what you can do to make sure you maximize the benefits of organic search.
- Too much brand competition
Unfortunately, today we are witnessing certain sectors where there is too much brand competition. Now, I am a firm believer in the idea that even when higher positions are occupied by large brands, these are usually generalist sites.
So if you focus on being the expert and the best result, you could work your way without having to duplicate the Amazon link profile or something like that. Again, you must be careful.
- Multiple countries
Focusing on several countries is completely feasible. At the same time it can be expensive and complicated to do well in the organic search. Again, we return to the issue of budget and deadlines, so by using platforms like AdWords, you can quickly and easily focus on multiple locations with laser precision.
At least, tempt the waters using a paid search campaign and a country-specific landing page so you can determine that your strategy has merit before launching a costly international search campaign.
- Multiple languages
This is an extension of the issue with several countries and when you have to orient yourself to multiple languages through multiple locations, this can get very complicated quite quickly. If you focus in place like Switzerland where there are four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh), you will need four language versions of your content for this place only.
Ensuring that your fabulous sales content translates well to the target audience can be a problem in itself, so again, makes sure you know what you’re getting into.
SEO and digital marketing have grown in the last fifteen years or so. There is still a bit of Wild West spirit in online marketing, but you must be realistic about what you can achieve within a certain time frame, especially when entering competitive markets and / or competing with established brands.
That does not mean that SEO will not work for a particular business, but can you get where you need to be with the resources you have available? As with everything in marketing, you must be prepared to invest in your campaign and you must be absolutely consistent to see the results. Those who spend money without much planning or have never stopped to consider how attainable their goals within organic search are often burned in the wasteland of SEO services.
On the other hand, it is important to distinguish SEO jobs such as pursuing large commercial keywords and how your business is presented in search results when a customer searches your name on Google. It could be that you do not go after the big terms, but it’s more than certain that you want to make sure that your Google digital store’s display case shows something – so you have to be clear about the many types of SEO and, in particular, how you show up in a search engine.
What we usually see in my agency is that SEO works better as part of an integrated digital marketing campaign that is aligned within a single strategic plan. SEO, PPC, content marketing and social networks often form the backbone of this plan, along with proven marketing principles such as commitment, investment and consistency. Make all these elements work together and consider all angles from reputation management to brand building and your campaign will yield much more than the sum of its parts.