Business Priorities: Stop Worrying About SEO and Start Focusing On Your Business

For the last 10 years I’ve been talking to business owners large and small about SEO and all the wonderful discussion that comes with it (as well as all the really annoying BS that comes with it as well).

At the start of my career I spent a lot of time trying to explain what “a Google was” and why Search was important to their business (and believe it or not there was a time not long ago where people didn’t see the value in it!)

The last few years, however, have been spent talking LESS AND LESS about SEO to clients, and for a variety of reasons, the main being the fact that most of my new client leads seem to know a little about SEO when they walk in the door. They’ve read “some articles online”, and are all of a sudden experts on the subject.

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So these days I actually use SEO as a powerful tool not because I talk about the BENEFITS of it (as I would have 10 years ago) but how SEO is actually HURTING their business.

“But Eric, what could you possibly mean by that?”

If you’re one of these small business owners who has done some studying on SEO and are probably wrongly obsessed with it, then read on. If you’re in the SEO or marketing business, take a step back for a second and put yourself in the small business owner’s shoes.

OK MR. Small Business Owner, you’re looking to increase your business and want to do so with your website. You hear these buzzwords about SEO and Twitter and Content Marketing and all that jazz and start doing some research. You hear about things like “Title tags” and “Panda” and get overwhelmed but continue trying to learn more. Now you’re hooked and start to find people like myself to help YOU rank #1 for some keyword.

Most of the time you’ll end up hiring some snakey types who have built a sizable company taking advantage of small businesses by selling them bullshit SEO packages that focuses on their rankings and probably social media metrics (you know those super important Facebook post “impressions”), meanwhile fueling your desires to “rank for keywords”.

This has been a big problem for years now and the SEO industry as a whole is partly responsible for it’s constant, unnecessary, over-analysis of every possible angle, technique, and algorithm update. The industry, while no doubt wanting stay on top of Google (and chase pageviews) instead instills fear into business owners over losing rankings (or still the “chase” of rankings) and keeps these firms in business.

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For me SEO has turned into “bad word”, and not the fun kind I like to say when kids aren’t around.

When I sit down with a business owner these days, I feel like a doctor who has to wean a client off of worrying about their Google rankings and to worry about more important things, namely their business.

SEO isn’t going to help your business if your products or services suck. If your customer service sucks. Your brand, your marketing message, YOUR WEBSITE – all of these things are 10 times more important then where exactly your website ranks in Google’s search engine results.

Stop reading articles about SEO. Stop reading articles about “How Facebook is Going to BLAH BLAH BLAH” your business. Start caring about your customers, about your service, about being the best damn business owner you can be.

Start planning on real marketing campaigns, on how to communicate the benefits of your products and services to your your target audience. Do you even know who your target audience is?

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Start taking an active role in your community.

Start paying attention to what your visitors do on your website. Is it easy to move around, to find information? Is it easy to purchase your product or fill out a form?

If you start focusing on the things that really matter to your business, you’ll find that people will start talking about you, leaving you good reviews, posting Tweets and “Liking” you, and linking or blogging about you. Maybe focusing on these things is what Google wants to see, and in return gives you a bump in Search for those magic keywords.

Think about that for a minute and you’ll start to really understand what “SEO” is all about.

Eric Hebert

Founder and Lead Digital Strategist