Companies that take their search engine visibility for granted or that ride the technical SEO loophole/manipulation train often get a hard smack back to reality when their online sales disappear. Orders start to slip or fall off the map altogether and the IT team red alert phone rings off the hook with calls from the business owner, “What the hell happened to our rankings???”
You can imagine Google being brought up in a browser and searches for “search engine optimization firms” and similar queries are place to find a SEO consultant to “quick fix the problem”.
The real “problem” is that there is rarely a quick fix for the kinds of issues that result in a dramatic change downward in search visibility. The exception being the removal of an errant robots.txt file placed to disallow all engines from crawling a site during development.
“I know enough to be dangerous” is an interesting thing to hear from a web site developer looking for quick SEO services. In some cases, they really do know quite a bit about optimizing and marketing web sites online, they just don’t have the people resources to execute and need outside help. Others might know enough to be dangerous – to themselves. SEO information from 1999 isn’t going to cut it in 2008.
When a company generates a substantial portion of it’s business from the internet, the influences on that online visibility cannot be left to chance. Not staying on top of what’s working and what’s not can result in unexpected outcomes. Bad and outdated information can be very costly.
While I don’t think all company web site owners need to retain a full time in-house SEO consultant or agency in all cases, they do need to allocate resources either internally or externally to keeping company knowledge current. The best source for that information is through testing and measuring the performance of company online marketing campaigns. Conferences, blogs, forums, articles and newsletters can be helpful as well but also require time and money commitments.
I’ll admit to being biased as a consultant myself, but I would rank the periodic or ongoing consultation of an outside agency higher than many other sources since it’s their job to test and measure online campaigns for a multiple companies on an ongoing basis. The cumulative knowledge, experience and insight that comes from working with many different web sites and their associated challenges is of benefit to each web site client individually.
In situations where search visibility has dropped, web site owners and developers responsible for site management/marketing must realize there is rarely a quick fix. The quick drop in rankings does not mean there’s a quick solution to get back.
What is a web site owner to do? Diversification as is possible through strategies such as digital asset optimization are the best prevention. Otherwise, PPC campaigns can be run as well as social media promotions, blogger outreach, online public relations and press release marketing – all to drive traffic while the SEO issues are worked out.
With an industry that has the potential to change as much as search marketing, it makes sense to leverage expert knowledge and experience as well as a process for continuously harvesting new insight from direct observation. Bringing in full time web marketing staff is one option as is hiring an outside agency. Many companies are doing both by using the agency for strategic direction and in-house staff for implementation. Either way, the solution is smart and data based, not a rush for a quick fix.