August 25, 2009

Why SEO and Not…

Advertising is a competitive business. Budgets are tight, and still tightening. When I persuade someone to use search engine optimization as a strategy, I have to persuade them to use SEO instead of:

  • Pay per click advertising.
  • Banner ads.
  • Social media marketing.
  • Traditional Media
  • PR
  • Cash under a mattress
  • Shotguns next to the canned goods under a mattress that doubles as an all-weather escape raft / emergency shelter.

Why SEO and not Pay Per Click advertising?

For the same reason a PR hit is better than an ad on the facing page.

Organic results take more time and effort to obtain. You can’t just write a check. But they’re more trusted by viewers, which is reflected both in how often people click through links. Pay per click advertising can bring in instant results, and it’s easy to calibrate it fast. But even that advantage has its cost: as soon as your PPC campaign is over, your traffic is likely to drop to whatever it was beforehand.

Since Pay per click ads are so short and utilitarian, they don’t help build brand awareness, either. You make the sale in fifteen words, or you lose.

Why SEO and not Banner ads?

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.

—John Wanamaker

Banner ads are still what most people think of when they think of online advertising. But that’s because they’re noticeable. Good marketing is subtle enough to make the buyer’s decision for them. Banner ads can’t be subtle, because they can’t be missed. They have to compete with all the other content on the site, and they can’t be integrated into it.

Banner ads are mature, but they’re still maturing. In a medium as rich as the Internet, it’s certain that banners are going to be part of the advertising mix. But until we know exactly what part they’ll play (and how much it will cost to play along), it’s too tricky to determine just how to make money with them.

Why SEO and not Social media marketing?

In the year 3000, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook will merge into one super time-wasting website called YouTwitFace.

—Conan O’Brien

Social media marketing is the dream of internship-seeking communications majors the world over: get paid to post tweets, update Facebook, and do other stuff you already do for free! But while social media marketing has been a good way to research customer preferences and a great way to pry open venture capitalists’ wallets, social media marketing hasn’t provided demonstrable results for product marketing. And the minute it does start to show results, the FCC will be all over it. By the time there’s a significant reward, it won’t be worth the risk.

Why SEO and not Traditional Media?

All aboard the sinking ship!

Ad rates and ad pages are dropping among the shrinking number of newspapers and magazines. Everything worth watching on TV can be downloaded for free, on the network’s dime or on any number of file-sharing sites. The smart, affluent people who determine what a brand will look like over the next few decades don’t even remember what it’s like to sit through a thirty-second ad they didn’t find on Youtube.

I’m not going to pay someone to figure out a better business model.

Why SEO and not PR?

Don’t let them take off the training wheels.

Okay, okay, maybe this is a little unfair, but when your interns run your business and your interns ruin your brand name, something just isn’t right.

Why SEO and not Cash under a mattress?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

And if you’re still not convinced…

I can’t argue with canned food and shotguns—but I can recommend that you stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Why Not SEO And…

Edit: And here it is! Why Not SEO And..?

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I’m currently the Co-Founder and CEO of a startup providing equity research and M&A due diligence to investors analyzing online businesses.

  • http://www.byrnehobart.com/blog/why-not-seo-and/ Why Not SEO And… | Byrne's Blog

    [...] optimization works best when it’s combined with other kinds of marketing. Not to reprise yesterday’s post too slavishly, but: why not try SEO [...]