SEO or SE-“No?”

Today, I had a great experience and I just had to share it with you.

Here’s some brief background.  I have been struggling with improving my website page rankings for a while.  I decided to interview a few independent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultants to determine who could help me.

One of the SEO candidates lives close to me in Bend, Oregon. We sat down together and he asked me some very key questions that NO other SEO consultant had ever asked me:

1. Who is your ideal client? (for me, it’s the owner of a B2B growth company with revenues under $50M)

2. How do they find you? (my keynote speeches, publishing, and referrals)

3. How many have ever searched for your services on the Web? (nobody has ever contacted me this way unless you count the unemployed professionals seeking career advice and solicitors)

He then surprised me with his recommendation.  He said; “I only want very satisfied clients, and I do not think you will be one of them right now.  I don’t think that investing in SEO right now can really help you.  If you choose to market a product to get your clients in your pipeline, let’s visit the topic again.”

My excitement about growing my website presence and lead flow went from “GO SEO” to “SE-No”. What really happened is that I fell prey to shiny penny syndrome.

Let me illustrate this habit by sharing a story.  As a young girl, I attended a private Catholic school in Connecticut.  My Mom worked full-time at a women’s clothing boutique, which was a fifteen- minute walk from school.  After classes ended, I would meet Mom at the store.  One of my favorite pastimes was to stare at the sidewalk and look for shiny coins.  (Hence, the shiny penny syndrome metaphor.)

On any sidewalk. Pennies are the easiest to find.  Even though they are virtually worthless, I love the idea of looking busy, launching new ideas, and putting them into my “to do list” — my piggy bank.

Many business owners treat new opportunities (such as SEO strategies) the same way.  They may have no clue whether the opportunity is going to generate any return on investment, but they love the excitement of finding that shiny penny!

Here are some tips to help you avoid over-investing in SEO:

1. Proceed pragmatically.  Recognize that many of us visionary entrepreneurs have therefore suffered periodic bouts of “shiny penny” syndrome.  Don’t let innovations such as search engine optimization and social media fuel that old habit.  Ask yourself these questions before investing heavily in SEO:

  • How will this either advance or hurt the fulfillment of our company’s (and my personal) purpose and vision?
  • Who will manage or maintain regular updates and research on the latest trends?
  • Where does my tribe (ideal clients, economic buyers, key influencers, and raving fans) spend their time?  In my case, CEO’s of growth companies just don’t search for business growth advisors and management consultants based in the Pacific Northwest.

Unless you are in the entertainment, direct response (such as financial services or travel), home based business, technology, personal services, or consumer goods industries, your clients may not yet be ripe for what SEO offers… YET.

2. Carefully select your SEO “dream team.” As opposed to investing in pay-per-click advertising or hiring an SEO guru, you may expand your influence and brand traction faster by actively joining and strategically participating in select online groups. I post comments weekly in the LinkedIn “Answers” section.

3. Write down the intended outcome before you launch a B2B SEO strategy. Do you simply want to increase your newsletter subscribers? Is it to expand your global reach? Do you want to be viewed as the go-to resource in a specific niche? Unless you are trying to evangelize the world on a new technology or sell products online, SEO may just be a huge money pit full of shiny pennies.

Thanks to Sam Handelman for his candor today. He deserves referrals!

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