Archives from month » March, 2010

To SEO or not to SEO – that is the question!

You can't pick up a marketing or IT magazine without reading about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This post discusses five key items to consider when thinking about SEO for your company.

SEO ConsiderationsYou can’t pick up a marketing or IT magazine without reading about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Although most companies that have a web presence have been told they need SEO, few know how to go about getting SEO.  Here are five critical things to consider as you embark on SEO.

  1. The two-headed monster (technology and marketing) - SEO is as much about technology as it is about marketing.  Improving your ranking in Google may or may not improve your ranking in bing.  You have to understand how search engines work in order to take advantage of them.  Unless you are extremely technology savvy and have the time to learn SEO tricks on your own, it is usually best to find an online solution or hire a consultant to help with the technical side of SEO.  Once you understand the technical elements needed, now you have to focus on the marketing.  This usually means rewriting your website to take advantage of phrases, keywords, links, headings, etc. that search engines use to determine your ranking.  Once again, professional help is usually required so that your website doesn’t look like you tried too hard to increase your SEO ranking.  As a matter of fact, search engines will check to see if they think you are trying to increase your ranking.  If they determine you are, they will actually lower your ranking. 
  2. Using online tools - there is definitely a place for online tools in the SEO business.  Numerous tools exist which will analyze your website and let you know how you should change it to increase your SEO ranking.  Once you have used one of these tools to analyze your site, you will not be at a loss for things to change.  The best tools are very thorough and provide you with a checklist of things to address in priority sequence based on their impact on SEO rankings.  The tools are very useful for analysis and planning.  You should however be wary of using them to build pages for your site.  While they may be excellent pages, you will have to continue to pay the tool provider as long as you want to use that page.  Since you are probably already paying someone else to build and host your site, this is just one more provider to pay, integrate with, and keep current when technology changes.
  3. Business applicability - before embarking on a SEO project, you should think about your business and how much impact SEO will provide.  Think about how you get new business, how your customers interact with you, and how your website is used today.  If most of your business is referral, then a high SEO ranking may not be as important.  Usually when people refer a company, they will give you the website link.  If people have the link then there is no need to search for your company with a search engine.  You may want to take advantage of the web as a new sales channel, in which case SEO will be very important.  You must decide what is right for your company.
  4. Processes, processes, processes - if you decide to undertake SEO, be sure to think about the processes you will need to implement.  A successful SEO activity will generate more leads for your business.  You will need a solid process to qualify and follow-up on those leads.  All leads are not good leads, so you don’t want to waste your time.  And remember, the worst thing you can do is get a lead and never follow-up on it.  This is not good for your image in the market.
  5. Cost and timeline - completing a SEO project will not be fast or cheap.  Even the simplest websites will probably take at least 3 months and cost between $5,000 and $15,000 to optimize.  The cost can skyrocket from there very easily.  Remember, you will need technology assistance, marketing/copywriter assistance, and processes.

The benefits of a SEO project are often well worth the expense and time.  We can all use more customers, and SEO can help you find them.  The items above will not ensure your SEO success, but they will help you decide if you are ready for SEO and whether or not you need SEO.  Each company will benefit differently from SEO, so it is important to be sure your investment in SEO has a good return.

Emerging Technology – Friend or Foe?

Deciding when to adopt an emerging technology within your business is a critical decision. This post poses a few key questions to consider.

Emerging TechnologiesDeciding when to adopt an emerging technology within your business is a critical decision.  Not every business is the same when it comes to emerging technologies. You may be working for an innovative, growth-oriented company that’s always on the lookout for new solutions, or you could have responsibility for an established, structured organization that’s wary of jumping into the latest IT invention.  Either way, if you’re going to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you’ve got to keep your eye on emerging technologies and know how best to benefit from them.

The question is: how do I know when to embrace an emerging technology? The bad news is that there is no “silver bullet” that provides the answer to this question.  The good news is that there are a few critical questions that can help you decide.

  • Is technology a competitive differentiator for your company? if so, emerging technology is your friend.  You should budget and resource to investigate emerging technologies when they are on the “bleeding edge”.
  • How aggressive is your business strategy? If your company has aggressive growth plans that involve innovations, then emerging technology is your friend.  Many emerging technologies can help your organization grow with less initial investment.  Even if the technologies don’t work for the long-term, they may let you be first to market with a new product or service.
  • Does your company have a highly structured culture and approach to initiatives? if so, then emerging technology may be your foe.  By their nature emerging technologies are often fraught with starts and stops with projects rarely going as planned.
  • Do your company processes include R&D activities? If not, then emerging technology may be your foe.  Companies without a tolerance for R&D activities will lose patience with emerging technologies.
  • Is 100% quality at all times a priority for your company? If so, then emerging technologies may be your foe.  You will be better served to wait until a technology is mature before adoption.
  • Do your clients demand innovative solutions? If so, emerging technology is your friend.  By embracing new technologies earlier in their lifecycle you can meet your client demands sooner than the competition.

Assessing your company’s culture and processes will allow you to determine whether emerging technologies are right for your enterprise.  Be sure to readdress the tolerance for emerging technologies frequently since company strategies change frequently.  Whether a friend or foe, emerging technologies will play a big part in your IT success.