In this industry, I regularly encounter individuals and businesses that think effective digital marketing involves simply building a decent-looking website and posting content to a dedicated Facebook page once or twice a week; “I think my brother-in-law knows a bit about website design, I’ll have him do it for me,” is a response I often hear when offering our SEO design services to businesses. This “brother-in-law” website design approach – entrusting your company’s internet marketing to someone with a bit of design know-how but no professional SEO experience – is akin to an automobile manufacturer only concentrating on how its top-of-the-line sports car looks and completely ignoring how it drives. The new Corvette may have a pretty sleek design, but we’re betting Chevrolet’s sales would drop off pretty quick if it could only go 45 m.p.h.
Just like with cars, buildings, the human body, and almost every other complex system we can think of, effective design needs to focus on both form and function to be successful. In other words, the unseen mechanisms beneath the surface are every bit as important – we believe more important, actually – than the great-looking exterior that hides them. For websites, SEO is the all-important mechanism, the 600-horsepower engine, the heart that powers your business’s digital presence on the internet. Are you really going to trust your brother-in-law with this crucial element of your website’s design?
When speaking with business owners who are satisfied with the “brother-in-law” approach to website design and internet marketing, I often use the following metaphor to illustrate the impact that professional SEO services can have on a website. It goes like this:
You own a store in the middle of the desert. Your store has everything someone in the desert could want – water, sunscreen, those little battery operated fans that spray cool mist when you squeeze the trigger – and is conveniently located only a mile away from a massive superhighway that cuts through the barren landscape. Unfortunately for your business, though, none of the millions of people that use the highway each day know that your store exists because it cannot be seen from the road.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the “store” in this metaphor is your company’s website (this example works particularly well if your website actually is a store) and the highway cutting through the desert is the internet. The cars and passengers traveling along the highway represent the millions of people that surf the web every day – people that will likely drive right on by because they don’t even know your “store” (website) exists – searching for products, services, and battery-operated fans that spray cool mist. If only there was some way to let all those potential customers know that you were so close…
This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Professional SEO services act like a giant, flashing sign for your website – or in the language of the metaphor, they physically drag your store, little fans and all, to a prime location right next to the superhighway – and expose millions of potential customers to your products or services by giving your business a great spot at the top of search engines. (Remember that famous saying about the three most important aspects to the success of any business? “Location, location, location!”) If the person designing your website (store) doesn’t know how to implement SEO strategies both within the site’s content and by creating effective links to other authority sites (your store’s giant, flashing sign), however, then prepared yourself for long, hot days watching the endless stream of potential customers pass your business by.