First of all, let’s get the fancy words out of the way. SEO just stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. It refers to the task of making your site easily “findable” (or indexed) by a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo or Ixquick. Optimization, however, is a verb. To study SEO, we are engaging in the science of Seonomy. Seonomy is the study of SEO, just like pharmacology is the study of pharmaceuticals.
To begin with, we have to establish the fact that the internet is a HUGE place, where almost NOBODY has ever heard of you, your business, or your service. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think they’ve scored a major seonomy victory because when you look up their business name in Google, their website shows up somewhere on the first page.
That’s not a victory, folks. That’s about as hard to do as standing on the tracks and getting hit by a train.
The real purpose of internet marketing is not to be easily found by people who already know about you (although that has its proper place, and we’ll talk about that in the chapter on Site Design), but rather to help people who are searching for your product or service to discover that you exist.
Granted, there are a few older, well established businesses who have spent tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on print and broadcast advertising over the years, and for them they believe their primary goal is to “locate” the people who already know they exist. The fact is, in my thirty years of marketing, I can tell you that humans simply don’t respond that way.
For example, here’s a challenge for you. Name the nearest Ford dealership to you. Then try GMC, Chevy, Dodge, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and Lexus. Odds are, you are very familiar with one (probably the last place you bought a car), and you know WHERE the others are, but you don’t actually know the name of the dealership. So, if you’ve decided you want to change from Kia to Nissan, you will run a search for a Nissan dealership in your town, i.e. “Nissan dealer Manchester NH”. Seems perfectly reasonable, right? It should be easy. In fact, how can there really be more than ONE result?
Let’s take a look at what Google ACTUALLY turns up as a response. Here’s the first page, after the ads:
But here’s the really important part:
See that? Over 120,000 results come up for this search.
So, unless you’ve spent a LOT of money making SURE that when people search for those words, words that seem so obvious and simple that they can’t miss, you are likely to get pushed WAY down the pages when people who know you are there are trying to find you.
Starting to get the picture?