Despite huge strides over the past decade, search engine optimization remains widely misunderstood among businesses. In some cases, leadership still views SEO as a spam-like approach to building Internet traffic — practices that haven't been employed in years. Others may understand conventional approaches to SEO, but fail to see the benefits.
Whatever the reasoning, an unfamiliarity with SEO is a huge disadvantage for businesses. SEO can always help you increase business opportunities, whether you're selling items online or simply driving leads and in-house phone calls from a well-established online presence.
There's no shame in being unfamiliar with SEO, as long as you're willing to learn. First, there are some basic concepts you need to understand.
1. SEO Is a Long-Term Process
Despite the lightning-fast pace of online business, search engine optimization can be slow. This is particularly tough for results-driven executives to wrap their heads around. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts — no matter how much money you're willing to invest. As the Search Engine Journal notes, companies need to adjust their expectations right from the outset and expect very slow progress in the early going. Plan on investing months into SEO before you start to see results.
Have faith in the process and the returns you seek will eventually come. But there's no way to fast-track SEO.
2. The Rules of the Game Are Constantly Changing
Even more frustrating to many executives: SEO is a moving target. As Google and other search engines tweak their algorithms, the best practices for optimization are changing constantly. At the same time, it's hard to plan too much ahead in terms of how optimization rules may change. The best thing any business can do is follow the best practices that suit today's online landscape, and be vigilant for any changes in the future.
3. Effective SEO Isn't Free
Much like the length of time required to implement SEO, this practice also comes at a cost. Whether you go with in-house SEO professionals, outsource to an agency, hire consultants or use a mix of several services, SEO is an investment. The cost of a good SEO professional can range depending on a variety of factors. Add up the costs at the outset, so you know how much you'll have to spend.
4. SEO Spills Over Into Many Departments
Having staff dedicated to SEO is smart, but there is risk in having your other departments turn their nose up at the practice. Public relations, marketing, sales and even web design all need to be on the same page and understand how their work affects SEO. Your SEO leadership can help direct these departments to make the smartest decisions.
5. Today's SEO Is Content Driven
It's not keyword stuffing anymore; it's all about quality content. You need a writing and editing team that creates a steady flow of original content that appears prominently in relevant online searches.
As long as you understand the basic principles of SEO, you only need to hire skilled practitioners to handle the dirty work for you. Just be mindful of your expectations and understand that results don't come overnight — but with time, they will come.