SEO Is More Than a Standalone Service.

I started my first job in a small company. Small but profitable. It was, on the surface, nowhere close to an SEO services or IT company. Most earnings were from the sales of a book, or rather a binder with many pages in it. Printed on those pages were information on grants available to small to medium enterprises from federal and all local governments, information that is otherwise free from government websites and public libraries.

How to send out thousands of copies of 'free' information and collect a few hundred bucks for each? The answer is SEO. At that time Search Engine Optimization was known as a jargon by most people. Looking back on it, The company I worked for was totally an SEO company. The only difference was that they worked on their own website. We had a team consisting of coders, web designers, video editors, journalists, etc. Everyone studied the behaviors of search engine users, and made the best efforts to suit user preferences. And the website itself was designed deceivingly enough to get people think that they actually needed that book in order to get the information they searched. The results? For every related keyword or key phrase, our website ranked first, before the actual government page that contains the exact information people were searching for.

But after clicking in, wouldn't people realize that they went to a page that did not belong to the government? Yes, most people did, but not all. In the end it was a numbers game. Large number of people clicked into our site and if one in a thousand bought the book, it was enough to purchase a house for my boss every year, a big house.

I am not saying I agree with this business model, nor do I think it is ethical. However, it did show the power of SEO and the importance of having the right people to do it. Most SEO companies out there are doing the same 'numbers game' that my previous employer did. They first squander much money on ranking their own site. Then sell SEO services as a seemly affordable service, and see how many people bite the hook. Being 'affordable' meant posting some link backs, writing a few posts and changing some meta data to call it a day. Will that work? Well it does improve ranking. By how much? Depends on the popularity of the keyword. That's why you see most services focus on keywords that have less than a million results or 100k results. Keywords with less results are usually searched less, and thus brings little traffic.

SEO should not be a standalone service. The goal of promoting a website is to bring in more customers and boost revenue and profit of a company. To do that, one needs a team that actually understands a business, and are paid to spend enough time to facelift (if not rebuild) a website inside out. Only a professional team that works closely with the business can result in higher ranking, more traffic, more customers, more sales and ultimately more profit.