I was recently interviewed by a magazine about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, specifically whether big companies are missing the boat and whether smaller companies are paying too much attention to SEO or not. Their questions and my answers follow.
Q: What do you think are the common misconceptions companies have about what
SEO is and what an SEM does?
I think that there’s a complete misnomer that SEO = top position on the search engines. In fact, smart SEO is much more about being *findable* for the *specific key words and phrases that will drive customers to your site*, rather than just a more simplistic popularity contest.
For example, if I have a pizzeria here in Boulder, I might get offers to, for a fee, be ranked better for “pizza”, but I don’t want that. Being ranked better for “pizza boulder” is good, but I bet that “best pizza boulder” would be the most valuable of the three.
See what I mean?
It’s just as much about doing the research to figure out what key words and key phrases your potential customers are using to search for your product and service, and about keeping the goal in mind that getting the customer to your site is only half the battle. The other half is what do they find when they get there?
Q: What do you think are company missteps when buying into SEM?
Lots of dubious folk out there using linkfarms, spam and splogs to generate lots of non-organic links that will give you a temporary boost, but not a long-term gain in search ranking. Also, SEO companies that don’t rank well for their own keywords are inherently suspect. The cobbler’s kids, and all that.
Q: Are there any cool search technologies that excite you (such as Riya)?
To be honest, no, not really.
Q: You still hear talk of big brands not “getting” search and SEO and how it can help their brand. Are there fundamental steps these brands have to take to finally “get” it?
Most big companies definitely do NOT get SEO, but most of them can skirt along just fine without it because of the value (and investment) of their brand itself.
Here’s an experiment you can do: Google “sony” and you’ll notice that Sony Corporation is #1. Now Google “sony psp” and you again see a Sony site (playstation.com) but Google “sony psp questions” and all of a sudden Sony Corp vanishes. Yet wouldn’t Sony want people going to THEIR site if they have questions about the portable gaming device, not mine?
Q: Do you think companies are over-thinking SEO? In other words, allotting too much money and brain power to search when they don’t need to?
Big companies are doing too little, and many small companies are too focused on SEO at the price of good content production. The magic bullet is just to produce lots of good, fresh unique content, not to play SEO games and trick people into linking to you…
Not to beat a dead horse (proverbially, at least), but it really is about producing good content more than anything else.
Q: Some say that local and social search is hot now. Should brands care?
Yes. Brands should care about everywhere online where their brand and products can be discussed or referenced. Whether or not you participate, you should at least always KNOW about what’s going on and what people are saying…
And what’s your perspective on this all? Do you agree with my answers, or do you view the world of SEO/SEM differently?