Snake oil. Silver bullets. Magic beans. Charlatans have been shilling nonsense for as long as there have been people willing to buy it. Once upon a time, this nonsense took the form of cure-alls, elixirs for long life, and zany hair tonics.
In digital marketing, we have our own industry rife with nonsense: SEO. To be clear, just as snake oil may have had legitimate medical benefits, SEO is real, valid, and important. It's also an industry that attracts hucksters, amateurs, and quacks.
- Our first suggestion is to be skeptical about seeking out SEO support. Boosting SEO performance is hard. SEO is competitive by nature. Top spots on Google receive many times more traffic than pages even halfway down the first page of results. Great SEO companies can measure and report their value and charge accordingly. Terrible SEO companies beg you for $300/month contracts and spin their wheels, accomplishing nothing but wasting your money.
- Our second suggestion is to be considerate and strategic with your content. Content is the cornerstone of SEO — without content, there is nothing to rank. However, many businesses think any content is good content. As long as it's relevant to my industry, it must be impactful, right? Not so, I'm afraid.
Here's an example based on experience. An automotive repair business starts blogging. Their marketing partner identifies some low-hanging fruit, topics they can rank for in Google, and helps them write articles that start building web traffic. Over time, web traffic doubles, then triples. Great success!
Except it's not. The topic chosen by the marketing partner is DIY tire rotation. The articles generate tons of traffic — traffic actively looking to avoid hiring the automotive shop. Though their traffic increases greatly, their sales barely grow at all. This is an example of throwing money at a problem without understanding the problem. A near miss is, after all, still a miss.
Marketing, like anything else, involves risk. You should invest in content marketing. You should invest in SEO. Just ensure it's a calculated risk. Rolling the dice isn't good enough.