SEO is NOT a Candy Store

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SEO Is NOT a Candy Store

Over the last 13 years, I’ve learned a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and made my share of mistakes.

Now I’d like to share some views from the front lines – cut through some of the confusion and misunderstandings about what an SEO firm does.

In this SEO Is NOT a Candy Store Series, I’ll periodically offer some tips, help marketers avoid some traps and provide insights about the industry, including pricing and the scope of services.

Why compare SEO to a Candy Store?

A Candy Store is how I think a lot of business executives view SEO – if they’re not just ignoring it all together. Since SEO involves the regular listings, people look at those natural rankings as the FREE stuff. Google may not charge anything, but someone is going to take your money. And if you go it alone, then get ready for the business opportunity cost.

Once marketers and business owners start thinking about keyword phrases, it’s like the Candy Store owner opened the doors on a Saturday morning and announced, “Everyone’s welcome. Today, everything is free. Grab as much candy as you want.”

I realize SEO is a serious discipline, part of an Internet industry filled with excellent minds. In other words, business executives do respect our knowledge. Time and time again, however, they become fascinated with one keyword phrase or expect to rank for just about any keyword that comes to mind.

Everything I share in this Candy Store series is intended to educate marketers and business owners so they understand that SEO is neither easy nor FREE.

Web Designers: Aisle #1 in the SEO Candy Store

I’m dismayed by website designers who rob their clients. No, they don’t break into homes or work on pick-pocket skills. But they sure pull one over on companies who think they’re getting a deal when they’re not.

Isn’t it funny how business executives decide they want SEO services and trust their website designer to handle everything?

In the end, we still end up with frame websites – a taboo for years. We get websites with no Calls to Action and no effort to include keywords in text navigation. Page titles only reflect the site structure. If someone pretends to be an SEO expert, he or she either dreams up the broadest, most competitive keywords for page titles or litters the page titles with an endless string of keywords.

I’m fighting with one website now that has make-it-up-as-you-go CSS throughout the website. I thought the whole idea with CSS was to establish design standards.

Sometimes it seems that a website has so many things going against it from the start that it seems like God himself would need to perform a new miracle to make the website grab a top ranking position.

Are all websites train wrecks when they arrive for SEO services? Not all. But many need a lot of work. It’s such as shame when no one bothers (or knows) to take more care from the start.

3 Responses

  1. Great post and very much true. Most programers are in a state of mind to build a website of a clients dream. Programmers needs to become educated with marketing but if the development company are not in that arena our job will continue to be a nightmare!

    Now onto the subject of business owners, that want SEO to be done for free or pay as little as possible. They expect so much for so little without the understanding of what’s involved to optimize a site to rank or perhaps increase traffic… Qualitity traffic that is. Let’s not forget that SEO takes time and it’s not an over nigt job.

    So the bottom line is, if you want a good ranking website hire an SEO company alongside the creation or redeisgning of your website and everyone will sleep good at night.

    Just my 2 cents!

  2. Mike, I couldn’t agree more.

    As a freelance web developer I get a lot of small business owners asking about SEO, and unfortunately they often don’t understand what it takes to gain a top ranking. Most importantly, they don’t realize how much time and research goes into the SEO process – they simply expect that I can magically make their website appear #1 in Google for any number of keywords.

    My advice to my own clients has always been the same – if you’re really serious about SEO, you need to hire someone who does that full time because that’s not my specialty. It would be unethical for anyone (including me) to accept money for ongoing SEO services if the proper time wasn’t invested.

    On the other hand, you can’t simply blame web designers for trying when these businesses won’t pay appropriately. Large SEO firms obviously have the expertise and resources – but they can cost thousands of dollars. If a business owner is only willing to pay a few hundred dollars – if that – to appear anywhere in the SERPs, web designers are fully capable of delivering basic SEO services.

    I think the issue here is one of quality – you get what you pay for. A good SEO firm is definitely worth the money, but a web designer can deliver modest results for a modest price.

  3. Art,

    Good points. I like what you said about budgets – “if that” with the small budgets. I know many web designers get SEO. I just can’t believe how many websites get made without it.

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