Why SEO (By Itself) is Worthless

An X through a search engine results page

Every year, my company leaves thousands of dollars on the table.

As it turns out, sometimes that’s a good thing.

We get asked all the time why we only offer SEO to existing clients. The answer is simple: if we were to do SEO for everybody, it would be entirely worthless.

Sure, we’d make some extra money, but we’d be wincing the whole time we did it.

The digital marketing game has been smashed into pieces over the last couple years. Maybe five years ago, we could offer SEO as an individual service, but nowadays? We might as well sell snake oil.

The traditional mentality towards SEO is outdated and broken. Check it out:

Visualizing Your Funnel

Your marketing funnel is like a carnival. For many marketing agencies, the name of the game is to get as many people in the door as possible.

But getting people in the door won’t help your bottom line. You need people to stick around – buy the food, play the games, have a good time!

Here’s the truth about SEO: if you’re focusing on getting as many people in the door as possible, you’re wasting your time and money.

You’re putting up flyers all around town and bringing people in to a carnival with a dingy skee-ball booth and a Ferris wheel that rattles just a liiiitttlllee too much. People will leave before they even hear you out.

We need to bring people – and not just any people, the right people – in to a wonderland chock-full of games, shows, and excitement.

We need to bring your future customers in to somewhere they want to be. That’s how you make conversions.

All this to say, we need a showstopper website before we can even think to start bringing people in.

And before that, we need a killer user flow.

And before that, we need a memorable brand.

And before that, we need a solid business.

Making sense? What I’m saying is, start from the beginning. Then work your way up to SEO.

The Numbers Don’t Matter

We recently had a client come in and ask us to take a look at what their current SEO company was sending them.

Get this: they were getting a default Google Slides template with screenshots of Google Analytics metrics every month. The damage? $400/month.

Here’s the real kicker: those numbers don’t matter.

Why focus on how many visitors are landing on your page? The only metrics that matter to your bottom line are the ones you don’t need us to track – the money coming in the door.

Who cares if 2000 people are landing on your site every day if none of them make a conversion? It’s better to have 200 people a day with a stellar conversion rate.

We track all the same metrics on our end, sure. And we send them to you too. But we’re not fussing over a fluctuation in visitor count.

We’re more interested in tracking the metrics that contribute to your funnel, in the order they matter:

  • How many people are landing on the page?
  • Of that number, how many are in your target audience?
  • Of your target audience, how many are staying on the site after one page?
  • Of those who stay, how far are they scrolling down the pages?
  • Of those who scroll enough to be convinced to make a conversion, how many actually do?
  • And finally – how do we minimize the dropoff between all these steps?

That’s what real SEO looks like, folks.

What SEO is Really About

SEO has nothing to do with ranking high. The business ranking #1 isn’t always winning.

Google’s mindset has shifted in recent years. You can stuff all the keyword word salad you want on your pages, but if people are bouncing immediately after they check you out, Google’s gonna penalize you.

Keywords still matter – we need to tell Google what we’re talking about – but they’re not the be-all-end-all they used to be.

AI has changed a lot of things, and we’re all sick of hearing about it. But it’s integral to this story.

Google cares about sending people to sites that their users perceive as valuable sources of information. AI falls into this in two ways:

  1. Google doesn’t want to lose market share to AI. As such, they understand the value of sending people to the right places that will give them what they need more than ever.
  2. Google knows it’s a 2 minute job to shove out a ChatGPT-generated article that hits all their keywords. As such, they don’t care about the keywords anymore. They care about quality. That’s what shows dedication to your audience, and that’s what helps Google’s bottom line.

So what is SEO really about, then? It’s about making something good.

Build an outstanding website, with amazing UX, with a memorable brand, with insights from genuine audience research, with the right mentality.

Only then will the rankings come.

Check out our SEO services here – but remember, you’ll need to build a site with us first. That’s ’cause we’re not in the business of wasting your money.

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