I had a client say something to me the other day that I thought was rather interesting. He mentioned that he almost considers SEO as a marketing expense even though its really a web expense. It was then that I realized that many people still do not consider what they do with their website as part of their marketing plan but as, well, just something else.
I think this is most obvious when you consider how little many are willing to spend on their website once they get past the design stage. I've dealt with client after client that had no problem pouring thousands of dollars into their website design but cringe at a few thousand dollars going towards improving traffic and conversions through search engine optimization. Maybe this is why so much more money is spent on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising than on SEO, even though SEO has proven a better return on investment over the long term.
What should be considered a marketing expense in regards to your website?
Technically, web hosting can be considered a utility expense. It's just another bill you pay each month to keep things moving forward, right? Maybe. But what happens when your web site goes down because you exceeded your allocated server load due to a big marketing push? Suddenly hundreds, if not thousands, of potential visitors are not able to download your site. How many potential dollars are lost? Web hosting is cheap, but good web hosting might cost a bit more. Ensuring that your site remains accessible despite sudden peaks in traffic can mean the difference of thousands of dollars a month.
Just about anybody can build a good looking web site, but does the artistic team behind the web site know how to assemble the pieces in a way that generates maximum conversions? You don't know? Well, you should. Colors, images, navigation and text placement (among many other factors) all play a role in how you are able to convert your visitors into buyers. Great looking sites can still be poor performers from a usability and conversion perspective. You may getting plenty of sales, but you also may be missing out on many more with an improved, marketing focused, web site design.
Search Engine Optimization
Site optimization is still often relegated as a function of the IT department. While this view has been slowly changing as of late still too many businesses are not taking SEO and the overall marketing of their web site seriously.
What is the goal of getting your site optimized? Is it top rankings? Sadly, for many, this is still the case. In the strictest sense, SEO is just about achieving top rankings, but that mindset is also changing. Top rankings are (or should be) merely a means to an end. The endgame of getting your site optimized for search engine placement is to increase traffic and conversions. That sounds like a marketing plan to me.
Business owners looking toward SEO to improve traffic would do well to change their mindset to thinking of their website as a marketing expense. Not only will your expectations be more realistic but you'll find that this marketing investment, when purchased with careful consideration, can and should outperform virtually all other forms of marketing on- or offline.
Stoney deGeyter is president of Pole Position Marketing, a professional search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Reno, NV, providing quality SEO services since 1998. Stoney has is also a moderator in the Search Engine Forums and Small Business Ideas Forum. You can read his SEM blog at (EMP) E-Marketing Performance. You can email him with any questions at email@example.com