Articles in the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ category

Three Limitations of SEO

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With statistics showing the growing dominance of the internet, small business owners are seeking out ways to use the internet to grow their businesses. One of the first internet strategies people usually hear about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO refers to a collection of techniques that help improve the placement websites receive in search engine results pages (SERPs). Gaining a high placement in search engine results is a fantastic form of free advertising. And certainly, well-implemented SEO techniques can help any website perform better.

However, the circumstances of a particular business can impact the level of success that can be achieved with SEO, as well as the effort (and therefore the financial investment) involved to achieve results.

Three factors impacting SEO:


  1. Type of business
    Is your business in a common field, like plumbing, or is your business in a more specialized industry, like rocket science? It is typically easier to improve SERP placements for businesses operating in a niche market, than for those operating in a more generalized market.
  2. Geographical scope of your business
    Does your business operate in one local area or is it province/state-wide or national? It is easier to gain a foothold in a smaller, local market than to produce results on a larger geographical.
  3. Competitor use of SEO
    Do your competitors know about SEO? Do they even have websites? Or, are they internet-savvy and ahead of you in the internet marketing game? Everything is relative, and it is easier to make gains if your competitors have not yet invested much in SEO.

Competition for keywords

The above factors together indicate the amount of competition you will encounter for keywords that relate to your particular business. Keywords matter because the search engines serve up content based on the keywords people use when they enter a search query.

Competition for keywords impacts the extent of work required to improve your placement in SERPs. Less competition could mean that you can achieve gains with a modest investment. More competition means that you will need to invest more time, and generally be more patient.

Market conditions vary

For example, I spoke with a businessperson who was a plastic surgeon. She operated in a large city, Toronto. The surgeon had a large number of well-financed competitors — most of whom were already employing an SEO company to achieve results. In this case I knew the surgeon was in for a real dog fight. A more involved and longer-term SEO campaign would be required to achieve results.

Conversely, I spoke with a company about doing SEO on their site. I saw that while the company had many competitors, some of their competitors did not even have a website. Those that did were not search engine optimized. Because of that, I knew that using basic techniques, I could produce a good placement for the company.

In yet another example I had a customer who lived in a small city, and had only one significant competitor. With a basic SEO program I got my customer on page one of Google on a number of keyword combinations. Because the client operated in a small marketplace, it wasn’t necessary to apply more time-consuming tactics to produce results.

Scale SEO campaign to competition

It is important to keep the above in mind when considering using the services of an SEO company. A company that wants to sell contracts may recommend a maintenance package that is more than what you need for your market conditions.

I suggest you spend some time checking out your competitive situation on Google before deciding on a course of action. What you see may help avoid over- or under-spending on SEO.

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