Be an SEO Entrepreneur

Business Practices Jun 6, 2006

So, you want to be an SEO Entrepreneur? Thankfully, there is growing acceptance of what is considered as “best practices” for search engine optimization. And even more fortunately, they are closely related to Web usability standards. It can be learned. It can be taught. It can be the foundation of entrepreneurial business. The market is of nearly unlimited size (everyone with a website), and of unlimited levels of business Ma & Pa companies to Fortune 500’s.

But avoid the pitfall of becoming a pay-per-click campaign management company by accident. The process goes like this: you have to do a certain number of technical things before a website can start producing decent natural search hits (free hits). Refer to the ducks under the SEO best practices link. If each of these projects is not carried out in full, the overall effect of SEO is significantly diminished. Any one factor CAN bring up and carry the others, but you have to have that factor way out of proportion to the others. Do a Google search for Google patent for an example. You will find the top result violates cardinal rule #1 of SEO: search/human-friendly URLs. But that silly patent is so linked-to, that it overcomes all other factors. But small-time sites generally don’t have any factors that are so disproportionately powerful as that page. So small-time businesses have to get all their ducks in a row and carry each and every one of those projects.

When the projects aren’t all carried out, you may end up doing something that over-stimulates the search engines in the short-term, but won’t last. What happens is everyone gets excited by seeing a rising trend in the search hits, but go into panic as the results wear off. In a desperate move to keep levels up, you look at what emergency measures you can take, and realize mounting a pay-per-click campaign could do the trick. So semi-effective SEO naturally morphs into ongoing SEM. But what an SEO entrepreneur really needs to consider is how you can forcibly get your clients to line up and shoot every duck, and step in with a natural optimization campaign to keep the tension in the machinery after the effect of the short term over-stimulation wears off.

Huh, what was that gobbeldygook? Simply put: fix the site, then start adding content.

But fixing the site can be a monumental task–something an outsourced firm is in no position to do. In many cases, you have to be expert enough in the systems your clients are using to teach them how to do it. You have to have enough technical chops to talk tech with the IT folks, without them calling you a marketing know-nothing the moment you leave the room. You have to respect the concerns and motivations of all parties involved. You have to balance SEO recommendations with aesthetic, artistic and usability concerns. And you have to get everyone to want the same thing you do. Fixing a site is often more political than technical!

These difficulties are why we sometimes just sigh and ask for a directory on your site for us to FTP files into. You can then step in with Blogger or some other blogging software and just put files into place that easily satisfy all the “ducks” from best SEO practices. You don’t get the same short-term exciting pop in traffic as a fixed site. But it’s sometimes the only viable course.

You can set up team-blogging, and let other people add their voice. But most important of all, you can guide them on a corporate blogging strategy (or website content expansion strategy) that keeps the “stimulation” constant.

Most people who blog, have this constant publishing mindset. The more you publish, the more your audience gets in the habit of reading you, the more pings go out over blog news services, the more the search engines notice life in your site, the more overall traffic you get. But most online PR people and SEO professionals stop their strategy there, without realizing that the strategic choice of topics has as much to do with bringing in the correct qualified traffic as the act of blogging (or site expansion) itself.

So, if you’re an entrepreneur considering SEO as your new line of business, consider this: you won’t be anything more than a media buyer in the keyword bidding rat race if you don’t watch out for that pitfall. Being a “pure” SEO is remarkably difficult, because there is no formulatized strategy for SEO. Once there is, the formula stops working because the engines adapt and change to stop spamming. HitTail is about the only formulatized approach to SEO that can be brought with equal effectiveness to any website, any search engine, and produce the type of stable long-lived results you need for happy, long-term customers.

2 comments
  1. Ross

    Hi Mike

    Congrats on the tool – it is looking extremely useful!

    I was just wondering if there is an email address or feedback form I can use to make a couple of minor suggestions to you and your team?

    Cheers
    Ross

    p.s. I found your tool through SEORefugee/Seo-Scoop

  2. Mike Levin

    Sure, mylongtail at connors dot com.

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