Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Diamond in the Rough, SEO

My girl friend asked me the other day if I knew anything about jewelry artists. She was thinking about giving her daughter, who had just had her first baby, a piece of jewelry to celebrate the moment, a symbol of her mother's love. I wasn't familiar with designer jewelry so we came back to my house and googled it on the home PC. After about 20 minutes we gave up. We just weren't finding enough information to educate ourselves or make any type of purchase decision.

It got me to thinking about my experiences with web searches and working on projects involving search engine optimization (SEO, for short). Defined in it's simplest form, SEO is the practice that companies use so that when you type in the words of what you're looking for, their web site rises to the top of the search, preferably on the first page of the listings. Eureka! You've found what you were looking for, click on it and buy it! So it is easy to understand why sometimes companies see SEO as a kind of marketing panacea.

But this search effort reminded me that SEO isn't a shortcut to success, at least not for a large percentage of the companies out there. You and I won't win even if we are successful at fooling Google into putting us first on that search list. Instead we need to figure out who the likely prospects are, what they want and how they're asking; so we can turn them from interested to educated, from strangers to friends, and then into customers.