SEO: it should be about who, not how many

What's missing from most company websites, or at least what is craftfully hidden, is that very reason for being. Companies hire SEO consultants who have absolutely no understanding of the market for the companies' products and just jam the web traffic with random hits from spiders, which makes everyone feel good until you look at the sales figures for the year.

This week I've been getting bombarded with SEO consultants wanting to link their sites to New Tech Press.  I've dutifully gone to their sites to see what they are all about and have been thoroughly disappointed in what I see.  They are filled with poorly written, unconnected, bland content that provides absolutely no value to their audiences.  They are designed only to drive search traffic.


What makes it all the worse is some of these sites are for well-known corporations.  And, no, I won't tell you who.


I understand the value of good SEO.  It's important to give people making random searches on the interwebs a chance to hit on your site, regardless of its value to the searcher.  That's how lots of marketing people justify their investment in the web.  And when your objective is to gain new customers without concern to the needs of those customers, getting 100,000 hits is more likely to turn into one real customers than getting 100 hits.


But what if you could get 100 real customers instead?  It's possible if you actually care about the customers.  


It is hard to find companies that actually do care.  In the decades I've been doing this 90 percent of the comments marketing and sales people make about their customers is not very complimentary.  I completely understand the feeling.  Sometimes their obstinancy and budget decisions are enough to drive you crazy.  And their willingness to go with an inferior choice because it is cheaper is similarly maddening. But whatever business you are in, you initially chose to go in this direction because you thought you could solve some poor schmuck's problem. 


What's missing from most company websites, or at least what is craftfully hidden, is that very reason for being.  Companies hire SEO consultants who have absolutely no understanding of the market for the companies' products and just jam the web traffic with random hits from spiders, which makes everyone feel good until you look at the sales figures for the year.


I have yet to hear a pitch from an SEO consultant that says, "We aren't going to increase your web traffic.  We are going to bring you customers."  Why is that? Because most people are still stuck in the 20th century of mass marketing.  A 1 percent return is acceptable.  It's like seine net fishing but no dolphins are killed in the process.


Does that mean SEO is a useless enterprise?  No, it is a part of your marketing process, although one that is getting less and less important.  What is increasingly more important is finding the right audience for your message and keeping them coming back to your site, getting them to promote your business and treating them like you actually care about them.


There are lots of consulting companies doing this, like Badgeville, Shoutlet and CrowdFactory but before you call them, be prepared.  They speak a much different language from most marketers.  It's focused on meeting your customers' needs, not your president's ego.  And you may have to cut into your SEO budget to get them to work for you.