I have been in the ecommerce and marketing space long enough. So I know there is multiple schools of thought around whether is worth it (or not) to buy premium SEO services. From either, professional SEO agency or dedicated individuals. Luckily for you I have had the luxury to work with some of the brightest SEO’s the industry has produced.
SEO is clearly not what it used to be just a few years ago. Google has implemented many core algorithm updates which have changed online search as we know it. In some cases, getting rid of spam and thin content which is not useful and making it harder for black hat SEO’s to succeed. However, as it currently is, we have also seen changes which generate bigger profits for the search giant and have disrupted industries like Travel. When it comes to SEO, there is a big and costly barrier to entry for new websites. Earning links organically is more difficult because business has become more competitive. In either case, SEO and keyword research is still highly valuable and produces results. Create great content to answer questions people are looking for, for which there are no good answers on the internet (little competition) and in time, you will win online.
What Does SEO stand for
I can tell you Search Engine Optimization is not a gimmick and is worth investing effort and money into it. Building backlinks and creating powerful content which is SEO optimized, does require to be strategical within the context of your chosen industry. But the rewards are great if you can use the right procedures to manifest the results you seek.
One of my mentors. A man whose name I won’t disclose. Has spent over 100 million in google ads. His philosophy is SEO marketing is a waste of time that doesn’t produce results. To some degree he is correct in the sense proper SEO optimization takes months or even years in order to show great results.
NOTE: As of January 2020 I began working at 3dCart which is one of the leading ecommerce platforms with central focus on SEO. They have hundreds of accounts to show proper SEO, done in a sustained fashion without rushing the process does results in bigger traffic from search engines. I’m enjoying my time at 3dCart and taking the opportunity to keep learning and building my skills. You can Try 3dCart Free for 15-days.
There are two ways you can think of this. Either you pay an advertiser like Google or Facebook to promote your business and brands to their QUALIFIED audience. Or you can also pour good effort in creating engaging content which is educational, humorous and entertaining. The result is the advertisers will send you visitors “for free” because your content adds value to their network.
NOTE: Either you pay for leads and customers with money or you have to pay with your time by producing content which is valuable to both the advertisers and your target audience. Or by assembling a team who can do this for you. If you are able to generate lots of visits to your digital resources (website, blog, podcast, ecommerce store) then there are many strategies you can put in place to make a living from your work.
This video by Neil Patel tries to answer the same questions.
Let me explain some of the advantages to using Paid Advertising over Search Engine Optimization FROM MY PERSPECTIVE especially in the beginning.
1- Paid Ads Produce Faster Testing
Still, the fastest way to succeed is to test whether your message and your content actually resonate with qualified leads out there on the internet. Or you can create content which Search Engines and Social Platforms want to share. One of the quickest ways to find out is by purchasing paid advertising and tracking user behavior using Google analytics and various other tracking methods.
Ideally, you want a bounce rate of 50% or less (25% being excellent). You also want users to consume your content on average for at least 3 minutes… this will set you apart from your competition resulting in bigger rankings. If users consume your content for this long, it means your content is great!
NOTE: A bounce rate of 50% means that for every 2 visitors that come to your website one of them leaves after looking at only one page. While the other one visits at least two pages. When users visit more than one page this is a signal of interest in what you have to offer. The longer these users remain on your website the better it will rank across search engines and as a result, more users will find your digital brand.
The reason you want to have multiple ways of tracking is because the data becomes more reliable if you can verify with in two different sources. Google Analytics can measure accurately most of the time, but is not a perfect tool.
TIP: When it comes to tracking, often times is better to have redundancy. So many marketers use clicky in addition to Google Analytics.
***When it comes to mobile traffic few people know more than Mr. Opulent. He has a lot of great content on CPA marketing as well. Be smart and take the free information to master the traffic sources. Only super affiliates have a shot to succeed with his a1revenue club as payout threshold is HIGH.
By leveraging paid advertising you can quickly modify and test your digital assets. Until you are able to produce a landing page or offer which produces far more profit than what you spend in advertising.
This is the main goal of *performance marketers* like myself. We want to find a way to spend $1 in advertising and in the process generate $2+ back. This is easier said than done because it takes substantial testing to find the right combination between landing pages, products/offers, keywords/audiences to target in order to find the desired result.
This even though multiple sources have measured advertising with Google Ads produces $2 in return for every $1 spent.
Not many people will tell you this but it can easily take $10,000 just on testing, in order to build a winning campaign capable of producing tens of thousands or even millions of dollars in profits from selling physical or digital products. This is one of the reasons some of the best marketing teams out there resort to automating as much as possible.
It takes intensive testing to identify PROFITABLE products. Multiple sources have confessed about 1 in 100 PHYSICAL products to dropship is actually profitable after all operational costs and advertising expenses. This segment of ecommerce around the dropshiping model has become more competitive.
NOTE: When I say winning products I refer mostly to physical products you can dropship from places like Aliexpress. Other good places to find good products include Oberlo and Spocket which are great solutions produced for Shopify. The negative side is there is even more competition. More alternatives include, places like ecomhunt and thieve. In this day and age is also common to find competitors who use paid marketing spy tools such as adplexity to figure out what is working for other people. There are many great tools. Just be aware that algorithms are increasingly rewarding the teams that promote winning products and produce winning ads first. In other words, cloning campaigns/websites and running the same ads on the same traffic source doesn’t work anywhere as good as it used to. However, if you learn a lot about traffic generation you may be able to copy campaigns from your competitor and turn them profitable. The internet is the old wild west in this regard.
2- Paid Ads Produce More Data
I tell everyone I work with. Marketing campaigns are only as good as the data provided to the algorithms. With paid advertising is easier to collect good data using tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel which then can be used to optimize campaigns and produce new ones that are more effective.
The best marketers I know think of paid advertising as buying current data from the state of the marketplace as it is RIGHT NOW. Customer needs change all the time. Powerful products stop producing results as there are natural dying trends and market saturation. One of the best examples of this I can think of is the fidget spinner which became a massive hit but today the product doesn’t do anywhere near as good in terms of sales volume.
***If you want to dominate Shopify ecommerce check Alex Fedotoff on Youtube. Join the Facebook group. Tons of great information.
NOTE: The biggest advantage of having more data available to you is that you can discover needs and new trends in the ecommerce ecosystem before others are aware of this. Then you can exploit the opportunities presented and provide a good solution for a starving crowd that is willing to pay to solve their problem.
Today the faster you fail. The quicker you can identify profitable products and services. However, not everyone is this risk averse and willing to bet on their ability to find profitable products consistently. I know I’m not. So I work on my skills and offer them to businesses. I have found the best is to capitalize on opportunity while is there.
3- You Can Leverage Powerful Software
***For Facebook ads there are many great sources in the internet. But probably the best is my friend Tim Burd, Godfather of Facebook ads. His Facebook group is packed with great information and great marketers.
The biggest companies in the advertising industry: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, *Amazon*, Twitter… invest a lot of capital in order to produce powerful software capable of giving business owners and publishers a big advantage over their competitors.
Right now the big platforms are investing in artificial intelligence. Which will be able to produce better results than media buyers and PPC marketers with little experience.
NOTE: Of course you should not fall into the trap of relying upon on the algorithms to do all the work for you. All those companies listed above have the goal of generating more profits. Ultimately the more you understand about your industry and how the algorithms work… the more you can produce positive, repeatable results for yourself and your clients. In the case of Facebook for example. You should never choose to boost a post. Instead, learn all the intricate features Facebook has to offer. The process of learning is never-ending because hundreds of updates are made to the algorithms every week. If you look at the bright side, in understanding and conquering those updates through testing you can find the winning formula none of your competitors will have. In the case of Google Ads research the words you want to bid on and test the results. Don’t let artificial intelligence do the work for you because you have no control over it and the engine is there to benefit Google first and yourself second.
The main reason why top caliber professionals doing digital marketing and SEO are so valuable. Is their willingness to research and stay up to date on the latest methods, trends, strategies and algorithm updates. Also in willing to challenge conventional knowledge and testing what the gurus say doesn’t work. There are many factors which affect how a website will respond to an SEO strategy. One of the biggest ones, as I have tested, is the TARGET AUDIENCE. Audiences of different ages, with different interests will respond differently to the same content.
So an strategy which doesn’t work for one company may in fact work wonderfully for another. One of the main reasons I’m working so hard on my technical SEO is to come to a point where I can set test environments and rather than apply what has worked for me in the past be able to test all my assumptions and acquire conclusive evidence whether something works or not.
However, something I can tell you from previous experience helping multiple clients and businesses, is that knowing the consumer psychology of your ideal customer helps substantially. If you can make your customers happy when they buy from you, and this results in positive social media reviews, comments and shares. This ORGANIC activity will help you rank far better than actual technical SEO building high authority backlinks. This is my experience.
TIP: Not all links are created equal. Even the placement on the page and the text used on the link makes a big difference.
Many SEO’s and companies have been able to find the correlation between positive reviews and bigger organic rankings. With the addition of Hummingbird and RankBrain. And Google’s ability to do Natural Language Processing.
They can now score sentiment which means they can easily calculate whether customers had a positive experience or not. If the data shows reviews are organic and were not tampered with. Then positive reviews will boost organic traffic and rankings quite dramatically because your business is producing great customer experience which is at the core of what Google wants.
In the end, an entrepreneur running a business has a full-time job running the business. This is why they should hire a professional team to do their SEO. Rarely someone running a business has the time, to stay up to date with all the algorithm changes going on. Either way is good to learn the basics because some professionals out there are great sweet talkers but in reality, they don’t know much or execute on what they say.
In comparison here are the advantages to having a good local SEO strategy taking advantage of powerful on page and off page tactics:
1- Boost Organic Rankings
Recently the big advertising companies like Google and Facebook have put bigger emphasis on sponsored adds. Amazon is doing it too. Back in the day organic hits would appear first. Today sponsored ads and google shopping is what comes up first when you perform a search query in Google.
People browsing the web have realized this is the case. It has been found that 70-80% of paid adds are ignored. This means that organic rankings and white hat SEO techniques are still massive valuable. It has been found that on Google, for every sponsored add click, there is 11.6 organic clicks. You should employ and invest in learning SEO techniques. Or you should be paying a professional to do it for you.
TIP: For best SEO results the absolute most important skill you need to master is KEYWORD RESEARCH. You could produce the best content, but it won’t rank if it’s competing for keywords against websites that have much higher authority. You could compete with bigger sites at the PAGE LEVEL. The idea is to optimize your pages for easy, low competition keywords and as your website starts to rank incrementally target more competitive terms.
2- Web Users Are Ignoring Sponsored Ads
As discussed above as much as 80% of the adds served in Google are being ignored. You can’t rely purely on paid strategies to grow your business. It is essential to produce valuable content for your target audience or offer products and services that become the industry leader.
Otherwise sooner or later there will come a point where staying in business won’t be profitable. Today messages spread faster than ever before through social media and the Internet. If you take advantage of your customers you will lose substantial business in the process. This is the reason ecom expert Fred Lam preaches the saying “Customer is always right”. A dispute with a customer can easily become viral and hurt the business.
NOTE: Aim to create the best customer experience across all channels. That includes your website. The staff you hire which attends to your customers. The representatives who attend the phone calls. You want to recruit the best talent and pay generously. Based on the results. This will create an ecosystem of growth and positive energy which will propel your brand and your business a lot further. The best advantage of working with the best talent is they resolve problems on their own. Many times their solutions would be better than your own. You don’t need to micromanage or waste precious time, solving problems for your staff if they are talented and highly skilled. You should be in business to create freedom for yourself. Not to produce extra work.
3- Ability To Target Valuable Keywords Free
Is not really free since proper SEO analysis takes time, energy and effort. Still, I have been involved in projects where changing a single keyword in a top-level category of an ecommerce store, massively impacted sales, profits and results.
Because I have seen this myself I know SEO audits are very valuable and whoever tells you otherwise is because they don’t know any better. Maybe they just want to say they offer a better service like is the case of Paid Advertising. At any given point in time, there are millions of searches made by visitors online for which there is nobody bidding for that keyword or search.
By having a strong SEO strategy in place your business can be shown for very valuable keywords you would otherwise have to pay for. This is the reason I recommend to everyone to learn SEO. Or hire a talented SEO expert to do the groundwork in setting your brand with the best SEO practices. Ux design and user experience are also greatly helpful.
Now I’m going to tell you about my way of thinking and what I think the best strategy is, based on lots of research and actual testing I have done. Normally when I start working on a new online business or brand:
1- The first goal I have is to create VALUABLE CONTENT for the target audience and perfect customer AVATAR in question. In this stage, a lot of research needs to be done with the purpose of creating keyword-rich blog posts, entertaining videos and informative podcasts to start building the business across multiple channels. Of all, my biggest strength is in writing, but video is the most powerful way to achieve the best results. The fact is Video is the most consumed media format in the internet and also Search Engines like Google have been making it much easier for videos to rank. Blog posts with videos have higher crawl rate. Some videos uploaded to YouTube today rank within minutes for their target keyword, especially if properly optimized.
2- I test the content by using paid advertising. I follow metrics closely to see how the bounce rate and time on page is affected based on the updates I make. I also check conversions if my goal is to sell products and actions taken by the users if I have certain goals such as get them to perform certain actions. Having proper tracking in Google Analytics is really important. Heat mapping technology like crazy egg is powerful at this stage. Google Optimize can also help with A/B testing and it’s free.
3- Ideally by this point, the brand or business starts to gain some traction and I can invest more capital to grow the business assets by building bigger brand exposure. In the beginning I think of add expense as an investment to help a certain business or brand rank better for organic terms. If the assets are properly optimized with SEO best practices from the beginning and the content is great. It will rank much faster. The key is to ensure important metrics like time on page go up and to figure out the best strategy to make bounce rate be the lowest possible. When visitors consume the content your brand puts out, Google rewards you with more traffic and then using clever copywriting techniques and valuable IRRESISTIBLE offers you can monetize those visitors.
4- With bigger brand power, number of sales and company growth I can either focus on building a bigger team or I can cut back on advertising. Allowing the workload to level up, where the staff is productive but doesn’t burn out. Is very important to create a business that is profitable but also enjoyable to work at. Otherwise, the best talent will leave to other places if they are being exploited. It will become a never-ending task of training new people which is counterproductive and unprofitable.
***Two awesome books about brands are Built For Success which is the story of Nike and Delivering Happiness the story of Zappos.
NOTE: Doing this testing is much easier when the client or brand has been in business for 3+ years. By this time their digital assets hold some authority in big search engines like Google and usually the client has a system and set of procedures which do a okay job of running the company. At this stage it becomes about optimizing and improving (Google Search Console) what the client has so it ranks better and produces more rewarding results. Starting a project from scratch is more challenging as it can take months just to start ranking for good keywords which are actually beneficial to the project and the company. I much prefer to work on brands and businesses with some traction because is much easier to apply my knowledge and skill and see results right away. There is also more budget for testing strategies and bigger opportunity learn more, faster.
***All of this being said. There is no better way to test and grow your skill. Than to do whole projects by yourself. That’s in part the reason I began working on this website and I will be launching others using different platforms and testing different plug ins and technologies. The goal is to learn exponentially and build my arsenal of skills.
That’s the same reason sometimes I help businesses for free – because I can learn so much about their systems, technologies and procedures and adapt those to my own projects. It’s all about building win, win situations.
Personally I prefer smaller brands or startups with only a handful of employees. Teams like that are more adaptable and are easier to make decisions within them.
I find it that the bigger company stagnates and burn too many resources on meetings just to come up to a decision. The big defense contractors, just to put an example… can afford to do this because money is funneled from the government to these companies. In this way, there are many companies that benefit from being government contractors across many different industries.
The staff working in there doesn’t need to be much productive. Smaller brands and businesses that don’t receive any funding from the government need great talent which is very productive in order to be able to survive the price of being in business. Otherwise is impossible to make it .
I recommend you to build a culture across your businesses and Name brands which makes it exciting for the best talent to work there. A company that is NOT PROFITABLE will still be bought at a PREMIUM PRICE by another big company like Google or Facebook. Only if such a company, hired good talent to do the work. So that’s a very important point to consider. Attracting talented employees to your team makes your company worth much more.
A fun fact is branding was first seeing in recorded history with the Ancient Egyptian civilization. They would mark livestock under different branded entities to recognize their owner as early as 2700 BCE.
***My friend Jason Akatiff shares some wisdom on the current state of Marketing and SEO.
To summarize SEO is very valuable for your business. You should learn how to apply powerful white hat SEO strategies which result in positive benefits long term. I recommend you to follow SEO specialists Neil Patel, Bryan Dean and Ryan Stewart if you want to learn powerful white hat SEO and content writing strategies. I have used their advice for myself to find great results.
I have learned SEO strategies from many different sources and even had the luxury to have the head of SEO in a great marketing agency teach me so much of what he knows. I’m super blessed to be honest.
You should also stick to a hybrid approach whereby you combine SEO with Paid Advertising to achieve the best results. Early on is critical to test whether your business idea works or not.
The best way to confirm this is by using Paid Advertising methods. You want sales or the ability to generate so much traffic someone would sponsor your work. Once you start to see positive results it just means you need to continue building upon and improving what you have been doing.
I want to leave you with an awesome book I have been reading. It has helped me understand so much about business. Check out The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. Thanks for reading my post. People like you are very valuable to me and I will have more stuff to share in the future.
One last important thing I want to say is that as the seasons of the year change and time goes by. The interest of the people changes. Search terms change. The most relevant keywords for your online business and your industry fluctuate. So you have to think of SEO as an activity that needs to be done consistently. There is no stop to it.
There is always room for improvement. You can use the data stored in your Google Analytics/Google Search Console to improve your positioning and rankings based on those keywords you currently rank for.
DISCLAIMER: I’m part of amazon affiliate program. If you buy products using my links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Some of my links can get you discount codes and promotions.
PS: So what if you are a small company with no budget. Or a solopreneur who knows nothing about SEO. You can use social media platforms to grow your business. Posts made within Facebook Groups, Pinterest Boards, Instagram Accounts, Twitter Feeds and YouTube Channels all have the ability to rank and be found by Google. These platforms have higher authority so your pages rank much faster. Is much easier to engage the audiences. The bad side… they own your content. SEO can easily take 3 months to a year to start to produce results UNLESS you target the keywords nobody wants.
To find good keywords to target you can use free tools like Ubbersuggest, keywordsheeter or keyword shitter 2. You can also use answer the public to answer questions which people are searching for. These are the type of questions that would drive traffic. To get accurate data about keyword traffic you can try using paid tools like ahrefs but it can be expensive. These are some of the golden tools I use.