Monday, October 26, 2009

Why being ranked high in Google may hurt your business.

Recently, I was at a networking event, and I ran into several people who were discussing Internet marketing. Some of the people were quite proud about how well their Website was ranked in Google. In further discussion I quickly learned that this seemingly positive accomplishment was actually hurting them and they didn’t even realize it.

Being highly ranked in Google, should be something to boast. However, as the conversation went on they revealed the actual phrases for which they were highly ranked. On learning the phrases, I immediately knew that their accomplishments were not only worthless, they were hurting the company.

One person was a small business owner who was a typical DIY “do it yourself”. If they can “save money” and do it your self they would. Typically, these people place little value on professionals of any type. That is, until they get into trouble. They will never see the difference between the product shot they took and the professional photographer’s beautiful photography. They see no difference between the DIY legal documents for trademarks compared to the experienced trademark attorney. They will always feel that they are ahead of the game for anything they can do themselves and not pay someone else to do.

Here’s a tip for salespeople and service professionals, do not waste your time on the typical DIY. They will never pay you what you’re worth, nor will they appreciate what you do for them. To them, cheap is always better. Some of these people may be successful but they will not go beyond a certain point because they will not hire professionals for key areas. Until they see the value of professional work they will always be stuck at a given plateau.

This guy was no different. He was bragging about how his Website was ranked third in Google. He also bragged about how he did it himself with little effort. The phrase that it was ranked high in was his company name. To make it even more obvious to most marketers, his company name is his last name which is not a common name at all. It wasn’t the time, or the place, to inform this poor man in front of his colleagues, that his Website without much effort should be placed high for his company name. Or educate him on what search terms he should try to achieve high ranking. I suspect that my information on his site rankings would fall on deaf ears.

Next, he was proud of the fact that his site was ranked high for a few product names. But further discussion disclosed too that these names were irrelevant. They were not names people use to search for his product. They were more company specific names.

You might be thinking well at least this site is ranked high in something, so why would it hurt the company? It is hurting the company because this company owner will have a long learning curve on what is really important and why he should pay a professional to do his search engine optimization. This long learning curve is costing him money. What typical DIY people miss is the value of ROI, return on investment. They may understand that term on some level, but what they miss is that professionals, used in the right way, can catapult their company’s revenues and profits. For each dollar they spend with a professional they should see a minimum return of three dollars.

It might take months, even years, before he realizes that his company name and obscure in-house product names are not the search terms people use to find his products. Pride and ego may never allow this Website owner to hire truly professional marketers, but in time he may realize that he is not getting the results he needs. I have often seen people with this mindset then conclude that the Internet just doesn’t work for their industry or product.

The terms he should be ranked high on are the terms his customers use to find his products. He should not pay too much attention to the terms his company uses to describe the products. Industry terminology may be appropriate if you are trying to attract people who are inside your industry. You need to research the keywords and phrases your target audience is using. Plus, understand most people search for the problem they have rather than the solution. Understand your customers first and then develop, modify and optimize your Website accordingly.

Until you understand the terms your customers are using to find your products or service, I wouldn’t waste too much time trying to rank your site for terms you think are important. And if you run across someone who is the typical DIY marketer you can always try to inform them of best practices, but beware that they usually have to find out the hard way.

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