As the world moves online, search engine optimization seems like the obvious way forward. What better way to find new customers than to engage with people who are actively looking for your services? In theory – absolutely. In practice, some business are better suited to SEO than others. In this article, I will outline some characteristics which might be worth considering before hiring a search engine optimization consultant.
- Niche Businesses: From cat beds to kosher washing powder, we have some weird and wonderful things on our wish lists. Thankfully, this type of niche business can use the Internet to engage directly with small pockets of customers spread across the globe. By using search engine optimization to rise to the top of the Google results, businesses can engage with kindred spirits who are actively looking for their specialized services. This avoids inefficient advertising to broad audiences who are not likely to be interested in the product e.g.: billboards or print adverts. However, there are also some potential pitfalls which businesses must strive to avoid before forking out for an SEO campaign. For example, businesses must be sure that there is enough of an online demand for their obscure offerings. Google’s Adwords Keyword tool is a great way to gage the size of an online market and judge whether it is big enough to be worth investing in.
- Young Markets: According to a report by Webvisible and Nielsen, over 80% of people have searched for a local business online before making a purchase offline. This figure is likely to be even higher for under 25’s, making a search engine visibility a valuable asset for businesses who are targeting young people. However, for product or services which are primarily aimed at older markets e.g.: hearing aids or elderly social centres, search engine optimization may not be the most efficient way to engage with target markets.
- High Value Products and Services: Search engine optimization always includes an element of risk. As nobody beyond the Google labs can say with any certainty what makes the rankings tick, SEO can take several months to take effect. Once a website has secured high rankings, there are no guarantees that they will be able to maintain these positions and fend off unexpected setbacks such as SEO surges from competitors. This is why SEO is particularly well suited to high value products and services such as private medical practitioners or bespoke jewellers, where an SEO campaign can pay for itself with only a few conversions.
- Dynamic Brands: Although SEO is often marketed as a mysterious and slightly shady bag of tricks, it is in essence a form of marketing. This means that the businesses who can really build a strong portfolio of high quality back links will be those who can convert existing professional relationships into SEO juice. A dynamic brand with a strong network of relationships, a buzzing events calendar and a genuine stream of fresh news will necessarily do better than a brand which relies on ‘SEO tricks’ to pull their weight and drag them up the rankings.
So to summarize, I think SEO works best for niche businesses who are sure to have significant online demand for their products and services, businesses targeting young, computer-savvy markets, businesses selling high value products and businesses who already do a lot of exciting marketing. Best of luck!