It is no secret that ranking highly in Google can be great for the bottom line of almost every business. With few exceptions, the increased level of exposure leads to more leads and sales. The only problem is that many businesses begin SEO campaigns before they are ready for them.
Some companies will never be ready for SEO, and others just aren’t ready right now. Here is a basic checklist to determine whether SEO is a good fit now, or if other marketing channels are a better choice.
Are the On-Page Factors There?
SEO is often thought of as link building. This is a simplistic view of a practice that can be very technical, complex, and elegant at the highest levels. For the sake of discussion, we will simply note that on-page factors, or on-site and on-page SEO, should be in place before any sort of off-site promotion takes place.
These factors include:
- Optimized title, descriptions and categories for targeted keywords.
- Optimized images including keywords in file names, alt text descriptions and occasionally captions when it makes sense.
- Proper URL structure (in many content management systems, that means replacing post ids in the URL with post names or something similar) and internal linking strategies.
- Keywords in the proper h1, h2, h3 etc headings when appropriate.
If a page is optimized properly for all of the above on-site factors, it will respond better to off-site promotional efforts.
If a business site cannot reasonably fit most of these factors into their current design, their marketing budget may be better spent elsewhere.
Is There a Need?
In some markets, a full-on SEO campaign may not be necessary. In industries where there is little competition or search volume, you may be OK with just the fundamentals. This can include on-page optimization and adding content on a regular basis. In this case, a business may actually be ready for SEO from a technical standpoint, but wouldn’t benefit too much from a dedicated campaign.
Does Anyone Know We Exist?
SEO is a fickle game to play. Even the most ethical methods can eventually run afoul of search engine algorithms that are becoming increasingly advanced and have wreaked havoc on thousands of online businesses in the last two years alone. Establishing a brand and building an audience outside of search can better prepare your business for an SEO campaign.
The reason for this is simple. SEO leads many business owners to become infatuated with the free traffic that takes relatively little work on their part to get. As a result, many stop looking at other traffic sources that often take more work.
If their business website is someday filtered or penalized by an algorithm change, they are in serious trouble. It is important to build a minimum viable audience that is not dependent on SEO before starting an SEO campaign of any sort.
If you do not already have an audience (that buys) that can get you to your break-even point, SEO may best left to another day.
While there is rarely any drawback to ranking well in search engines for relevant terms, it is important to recognize the potential of your SEO campaign. Is there a market for your service or product? Have you done enough research on your market and keywords?
Instead of taking the time to prepare your site for a full SEO campaign, take the time to ensure that your business is shored in terms of other traffic sources as well as conversion rates. When these are in place and optimized, you are ready to compete for search engine rankings and traffic.