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Old 11-23-2009, 12:09 PM
bholus10 bholus10 is offline
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Default SEO Returns Your Investment: The Business Owner's Perspective

A recent survey conducted by MarketingSherpa shows that over 2,400 in-house marketers as well as over 700 agency executives revealed that search engine optimization (SEO) is the second strongest tactic for generating return-on-investment (ROI), just behind in-house email marketing.

An interesting disparity appears, however, when one looks at the numbers closely. According to the report, "Forty-three percent of "Big Spenders," those who typically spend at least $25,000 per month on search marketing, are planning 11 percent increases in SEO spend for 2008, but only 35 percent of all marketers surveyed plan to."

This could mean that a majority of small businesses are interested in getting SEO results, but are intimidated by its upfront cost, risk factors and gradual results.

In addition, a large percentage of these companies are still struggling to assess ROI due to lack of analytics data, or know-how on analytics implementation.

By now, most marketers and business owners understand the value of SEO - but only a small percentage of them are willing to apply the time, resources and budgets necessary for a successful campaign. For those that seek professional assistance, things can get even more complicated if they don't align themselves with the right SEO firm.

So the question becomes, does SEO make sense for your small business, and are you willing to take on the investment required for getting results? If so, here are a few things to consider.

SEO is Harder Than You Think.

Not the concept, but the actual work behind it. SEO is a complex combination of technical website design, keyword placement, continually updated content, quality in-bound links and the list goes on.

All of that takes time, and if you don't understand the complexities involved, you may not feel comfortable opening your wallet to it.

Let the SEO Wizards Be the SEO Wizards

As a business owner, it's in your blood to want to grasp, learn and master the strategies that generate profit for your business. In the event that you are inspired to learn the ins and outs of SEO, be aware of the time it may take you to implement this type of strategy on your own.

Having a fundamental understanding of SEO is most helpful when interviewing SEO professionals and firms. This way, you can ask pertinent questions to assess their true knowledge, experience and know-how, while still being involved in some of the tactics they employ.

SEO is typically not a one person job - especially if you are in a competitive field, or have a sophisticated website. Most likely, it will take a team comprised of copywriters, link builders and technical architects. So if you're serious about achieving quick results, step aside and let the SEO wizards do what they do best.

Know the Difference between Agency Fees and Third Party Costs

When companies request proposals for SEO services, they tend to get confused about where budgets are being applied. Although agencies vary in pricing models, standard agencies tend to charge a monthly fee for their services, in addition to a proposed third party budget for link building.

To clarify, agency fees are applied to the development, management and execution of an SEO plan, while third party budgets are applied to link building strategies including text link ads, directory submissions, blog per posts and article distribution services.

Some agencies do combine these fees into one package, but at times this can create confusion and leave room for unethical practices.

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Old 11-23-2009, 12:10 PM
bholus10 bholus10 is offline
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Accountability and Reporting

Once you've hired an SEO professional, firm or in-house team, ensure that you receive weekly reports on SEO progress and results. This is the best gauge for whether the campaign is working for your company's

benefit or not. Be mindful that results can take anywhere from 3-6 months depending on numerous variables, with the most important being: how long your website has been live (longer the better),

online competitive landscape (are most of your competitors engaging in SEO?), link building (are you starting from scratch or has your site acquired a decent number of inbound links), and many other variables.

In closing, it's important to align yourself with right team (whether in-house or contractually) to spearhead your search marketing efforts, specifically SEO. Just make sure you're the first one on board - and the results will follow.
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