More than half a century ago, four guys with (let’s be honest here) pretty geeky haircuts from Liverpool— better known as The Beatles — urged us to “get by with a little help from our friends.” And a few years later, rocker Joe Cocker echoed and popularized that sentiment with what must be regarded as one of the finest covers of all time.
Well, guess what? As we roll through the 2020s, we still need to get by with a little help fromour friends — especially when it comes to getting professional SEO help! In a moment, we will highlight nine key reasons why. First, let us take a quick look at why having a strong SEO game is so important these days.
What is SEO and Why Does it Really Matter?
Simply put, SEO — which is short for search engine optimization — is the process of generating and constantly improving website traffic to a web page and/or a website from search engines (primarily Google, which commands around 83 percent of the global search market).
Now, this part of thepuzzle (understanding the basics of SEO) may not be all that profound. Afterall, SEO has been around for a few decades, and most people are at least somewhatfamiliar with the basic concept. However, what promises to be eye-opening tomany is just how important and influential SEO has become. Consider thesemind-blowing statistics:
- Google processes an estimated 63,000 search queries every second, which translates to 5.6 billion searches each day and 2 trillion global searches each year. (Source: Hubspot)
- 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day. (Source: Think with Google)
- 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Source: BrightEdge)
- 39% of purchasers are influenced by a relevant search. (Source: Think with Google)
Obviously, effective SEOis critical — not just for success, but in the long run and big picture, forsurvival; especially for smaller businesses that cannot come close to matching largeenterprises when it comes to marketing and advertising budget.
Less obviously, however, iswhen a business should croon along with The Beatles or Joe Cocker, and realize theyneed to get by with a little (or maybe a lot) of help from some friends. Below,we highlight nine signs that it is time — or probably past time — to get someprofessional SEO help:
Sign #1: You Believe that SEO Can Run Itself
Let us say that you run agolf course (and if this happens to be the case, then please get in touch withus — we love golf around here!). Now, let us also say that you do not worryabout landscaping, because you figure that “Mother Nature will take care ofeverything.”
Of course, we know wherethis story is going. Before long, golfers will no longer be able to distinguishthe green from the rough; because it will be all rough. And let us notforget all of the various wild animals that will make your golf course theirnew home. We are talking wasps, skunks, deer, snakes — and the list goes on.
Within weeks, the onlycustomers that you will have left are natural scientists who want to study theinteresting plant and animal kingdom that used to be your lovely, popular golfcourse.
SEO is like landscapingyour golf course. It will not “take care of itself.” Unless you actively andintelligently conduct keyword research and create optimized content — or betteryet, outsource this to a qualified and affordable digital marketing agency — then before long, yourwebsite will get lost in the search engine result weeds.
Sign #2: Google Has Penalized Your Site
With apologies to William Shakespeare: “Hell hath no fury like Google scorned.”
There are many ways tothrow into Google’s penalty zone, such as:
· Excessive reciprocal links
· Duplicate content
· Copyright infringement
· Overusing H1 tags
· Keyword stuffing (i.e., over-using certain search terms in content inorder to rank higher)
· Hidden links and hidden content
· Links to suspicious sites
· …and the list goes on (if you want to see the comprehensive — and scary—list of ways to get on Google’s bad side, then check out this rundown by leading digitalmarketer Neil Patel).
What makes these “blackhat” tactics so problematic for many businesses, is that they did not know theywere doing something wrong in the first place. In other words, their offensewas accidental vs. intentional. Or, they outsourced their SEO to a consultantor agency that did all kinds of things that Google frowned on.
Unfortunately, Google hasa reputation for being merciless when it comes to those that commit SEO crimes.They do not care if the violation (or multiple violations) were deliberate oraccidental. All they focus on is the transgression, and the penalty typicallyinvolves being sent to the search result wilderness (i.e., going from page 1 ofthe results to page 52). That’s the bad news.
The good news is thatbusinesses can — and frankly, must — rehabilitate themselves in Google’s eyes,by immediately doing everything the right way. It takes a while for Google toforgive, but eventually it (usually) happens. As such, if you are currentlybeing penalized, do not lose heart. Instead, get professional SEO help andstart the journey back to Google’s good graces.
Sign #3: Your Website is Not Generating Much (or Possibly Any) Traffic
The central purpose of SEOis to generate quality traffic to your website. If this is not happening — or,if it not happening at the level that is reasonable to expect given youractions to date — then something is wrong. It could be minor or it could be major.Regardless, it is time for expert SEO help!
Sign #4: You Do Not Have a Content Marketing Strategy
Without a contentmarketing strategy, your business is basically “chasing keywords” and hopingthat you generate some traffic — which, ultimately, converts into sales (thiscould happen quickly or might take a while, depending on whether you are in theB2C or B2B space, the competitive dynamics in your marketplace, and other factors).
If you do not have arobust and up-to-date content marketing strategy that drives your SEO — and notthe other way around — then you need professional SEO help.
Sign #5: Your Website Has Technical Errors
Imagine that you get aflyer in your mailbox about a great sale on furniture. You show up to the storebright and early the next day, only to find out that the parking lot is beingre-paved — so you have to park far away. Then, by the time you make it to thestore, you see that they are installing some new cabling and wiring, and you’llhave to come back another time. Talk about over-promising and under-delivering,huh?
Well, if your website hastechnical errors — such as images that do not load (or load very s-l-o-w-l-y),forms that do not work, and links that do not go anywhere — then your visitorsare going to head to a competitor. This definitely has a negative impact onyour SEO.
Sign #6: Your Website Has Poor User Experience (UX)
Perhaps you are feelingcalm and confident because your website does not have technical errors, and soyou do not have to worry about anything right? Wrong!
Even if your website getsa clean bill of health in terms of technical functionality, the overall userexperience (UX) may be less-than-optimal — or just plain bad. For example,buttons and menus might not be in places where most visitors expect them to be,or the layout and design of your pages may be confusing or messy. ProfessionalSEO help is required here to fix these UX pitfalls.
Sign #7: You Are Not Appearing for Local Searches
Driven by the explosivepopularity of smartphones — there are currently a whopping 307 million smartphone users in the U.S., and that number isprojected to hit 364.2 million by 2040 — local search has become extremelyimportant for businesses that want to connect with nearby customers. Considerthat:
· 72% of customers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot)
· “Near me” or "close by"type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. (Source: Chat Meter)
· 4 in 5 customers use searchengines to find local information. (Source: Think with Google)
As such, if your competitors areshowing up for localsearchesbut you are not, then getting SEO help should be your top priority. Otherwise,you could be missing out on reaching many new, profitable customers each singleday.
Sign #8: Your Competitors Are Showing Up in Search Results — But You Are Not
Perhaps your business is,indeed, showing up for local searches. That is something to be happy about. Butif you are not showing up for non-local searches, then it could be a cause forconcern — even if your business exclusively services customers in a local area (e.g.,you run an HVAC Company serving customers in Sarasota).
Why might this be aproblem? Firstly, some of your customers may live or work in your local area,but they are conducting a Google search while in another city or state. If youonly focus on local SEO, then you will not be found.
Secondly, many people thesedays (142 million in the U.S. and counting) are using avirtual private network (VPN), which “masks” their location for privacy andsecurity purposes. For example, they could be in Sarasota, but their VPN makesthem appear as though they are in Atlanta, Chicago, or Los Angeles. If you onlytarget local searchers, then you will not be seen by these potential customers.
Sign #9: Your Website Does Not Have Enough (or Any) Backlinks
A backlink is a link from some otherwebsite to that web resource. That resource could be a website, web page, orweb directory.
Backlinks are an incredibly important SEO factor, because when a trustedand authoritative web resource links to your site (or more specifically topages on your site), it is in effect giving you a “seal of approval” — and themore of these seals you have, the better for your SEO.
Naturally, you cannot completely control all of the backlinks that you(hopefully) get. But there are indeed some backlinks that you can establish,such as in various web directories. This must be done carefully and properly, orelse Google may think that you are trying to “game the SEO system.” If so, thenyour website will be penalized and it could take months or years to escapeGoogle’s penalty zone, as we discussed earlier. Getting professional SEO helpis a must!
The Bottom Line
If you are experiencingone, some, or perhaps all of these signs, then your next step is clear: contactan experienced, proven, and cost-effective digital marketing agency for professional SEO help. Youronly regret will be that you did not do it sooner!