I admire Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella), an author, speaker and nationally recognized marketing expert also known as the Social Media Scientist at HubSpot.
But he sure blew it last week (and apparently other times) during his outstanding webinar, “The Science of SEO!” With an audience of thousands, he repeatedly told attendees: “don’t hire an SEO consultant” in most situations. Instead, people should invest in content producers.
I’m sure it rankled me because we specialize in search engine optimization and other online marketing strategies.
But let’s dive right into this topic that gets people fired up. Dan keeps championing the notion that businesses can get by without an expert at their side. In the webinar and in other mediums, he suggests that SEO will take care of itself if the web site is supported by compelling content.
It’s just not true. People are often confused by SEO.
To help counter his misinformation, I’m going to take a look at several key factors that center more on reality than mere hubris.
Can companies succeed without experts?
Every business clearly doesn’t turn to seasoned pros to help them out. People attend conferences, read books and put some tactics to work – with marked improvement.
What they may lack is an eStrategy, a comprehensive plan that connects the online and offline marketing activities with clear business objectives. In other words, businesses should tie everything together rather than work in silos with different marketing options.
Is SEO so simple that anyone can learn it?
It’s always changing, so I don’t know how anyone could possibly label SEO simple. Dan and others with backgrounds in SEO know that there is power in content, page titles, page headers, inbound links and more. The problem is that companies don’t often know what to do with all of the data and decisions. Even the professionals sometimes view SEO as a one-time exercise and never look back at the pages they targeted.
Can good content solve everything?
What’s good content? How often do you stumble across it? Good content (interesting and entertaining articles, free guides, tools, studies, white papers, case studies, collections of viral videos, etc.) can attract inbound links (a huge factor with search engine rankings). But if you have the wrong keyword strategy, the link efforts can fall short.
Get our free SEO guide about web site content.
Can’t content and link building pay off a little?
Yes, you can get visitors (if they’re the right type) from referring links. You can amplify your efforts with social media. With SEO, it all comes back to the keywords you have in play and how you’re using them. That can make the difference.
Some professionals suggest that you just research keywords and just go for it (I’m not making that up). Really? I always thought keyword research should be thorough. I thought the selections should be based on:
- Current search engine rankings
- Domain name
- Page URLs
- Page content
- Trends in web analytics
- Web site age
- Capacity to add new content
- And much, much more
Anyone can make headway if they give it a try, but what’s the foundation? Where is the wisdom?
Over the years, I’ve heard people proclaim that “SEO is dead” or it’s not “rocket science.”
Well, it’s not a piece of cake and it is thriving. Just last week, we wrote about the Merchant Circle study of 2,500 small businesses who were asked “If you had to put all your marketing time and budget into only one channel, what would it be?”
Guess what came out on top? SEO by 32.9 percent. Don’t assume that the response means they are all doing it on their own.
Can pages rank on search engines without an SEO strategy?
What would they rank for? Page content is crawled and indexed by search engines all of the time. If you string together some unique text and search for it, you may be No. 1 on Google. But is anyone even searching for that phrase? What good is a top ranking if no one is looking? Just because you write insightful content and throw in a page title (with your best guess at keywords) doesn’t mean you’ll be No. 1 among the organic search engine results.
Some would argue that the page and the web site will benefit from good links. Yes, links influence search engine rankings. But what’s the content? What are the links? What effort did it take to achieve them? What’s the anchor text strategy? How much content is on the page? Are there related pages? And what is the keyword focus for the page?
People can study SEO and apply what they learn.
But I talk with businesses all of the time. The top executives often don’t have time. Their staff are stretched to the max. And when people do learn, they may not know how to make sense of the data or their options. In other words, while some do well, others aren’t sure where to begin.
The world still needs SEO consultants – not just for the big and elaborate web sites. All sorts of businesses could use guidance.
And good content doesn’t come naturally. It requires creativity and hard work. With the right strategy, it can deliver in a big way.
Some rankings are possible without the knowledge offered by a long-term SEO professional. Web sites can attract visitors beyond the branded keyword phrases. But who wants to put online marketing in cruise control and settle for limited web site visitors?
Collectively speaking, let’s avoid the sweeping statements and dig a little deeper. Keywords are competitive even at the local level. Long tail keywords are a must in many cases. Making the right choices with content and keywords requires skill and effort.
I have a blast every time I get to help businesses of all sizes benefit from what I’ve learned since the late 1990s- because they thought to ask for help in the first place.
We would like to hear from you too.
At World Synergy, we don’t leave people in the cold or confused by search engine optimization. We’ll be there to help you sort out SEO and related opportunities — on and off the Internet.