Search Engine Optimization is a ballooning industry. There’s no doubt about that. Every business needs to ensure that their website and other online marketing efforts function as effectively as possible. So many entrepreneurs have seen visions of the tidal wave of money to be made in the industry, and they jumped right in although they can barely dog-paddle. You can learn the same basic info that most SEO firms will tell you just by searching for “SEO tips” on Google.

Many of them are afraid to let you know that because they want to be viewed as professionals with insider information that can only be gained through years of experience. The only time that seems to be actually true is when using PERL script or other back end programming and development.

Obviously, a programmer has skills that not everyone has. But SEO principles are not specialized, and they do not require someone with five or more years of experience to understand. Having said that, you are more than likely better off hiring an SEO firm to do the work for you.

No, I’m not sending mixed signals here. You need to be aware of the smooth talk and the BS some of them will use to impress you, but you probably still need someone’s help to do the actual work. That is, unless you are willing to hire someone on full-time to do it for you.

After many conversations with many “experts”, I have noticed two vital tools missing from nearly everyone’s approach. If I may be blunt, they are missing because the SEO firms aren’t true marketing firms and are too young to understand how to truly win long-term repeat business.

Two Things You Need to Know

There are two things you need to know to succeed:  you need to know your customer and you need to know Google.

You cannot complete a successful SEO campaign if you have not taken the time to know your target audience. It is sickening how many companies spout cliches like “find your target audience” without actually helping you find them. What might be even worse is that SEO experts have all read or spoken about the importance of inbound links for good rankings, yet so many of them never incorporate linking strategies for their clients.

A successful marketing company researches the client’s target audience until they know who they are, what they want, how they speak, and what they respond to. If your SEO service provider doesn’t know that much detail about your customers, how do they know which keywords your customers will use to search with on Google or Yahoo?

Exactly – they don’t. Sure, keyword research tools exist to provide a list of related phrases which are extremely popular, but are they the phrases people will use when looking to buy? It’s more involved than simply pressing a few buttons and letting a computer program shoot out some answers.

Why are these crucial elements missing? Because SEO firms don’t believe you will spend the money to do a search engine optimization campaign the right way. Because most of their clients know very little about SEO, the firms cut out necessary elements to lower the price and gain clients.

The Cost of Neglect

The unfortunate side effect is a half-brained campaign. No matter what they have done, Google will continue to shun your website as an authority because you lack the appropriate inbound links. To add to your future frustration, you will eventually realize that even though your traffic has increased even significantly, your conversion rate has not increased at the same rate. This is, of course, due to the fact that although your SEO firm drew more people to your site, they were not the right people.

The truth is that 98% of the time you get what you pay for. If you are large enough to pay for conventional marketing and advertising, you probably don’t skimp on the details. SEO is still a relatively new industry and the experts are still relatively insecure about their status. They may be willing to compromise to land a client. You do not want this. Why spend any money at all for the wrong thing or a poor quality thing? You might as well save your money or spend it elsewhere.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Somebody famous said that. They were right. Don’t waste your time or money on a half-hearted service. Ask questions. Get involved. Insist on well-laid plans and ideas, just like you would for a commercial spot during the Super Bowl. Everyone wants results yesterday, and almost no one wants to wait. But quality comes from thorough research and planning. Don’t compromise the quality of your business.