If it’s true that every business is a unique combination of product, service, brand, location, and customer profile, then it follows that every business would have its own measure of the value of online marketing and commerce. For businesses located online only, the value would be quite high.
For some storefront businesses, there are lots of ways to spend money on SEO and marketing on the internet that will have zero impact, or a negative impact, on their bottom line. After all, not every business needs to come up at the top of the search engine results page every time somebody somewhere searches on the keyword “cheese.”
How SEO can transform a business model
The well-established cheese boutique pictured above will sell about the same amount of cheese out of this storefront, no matter how much is spent on web development and SEO, if the strategy is to continue serving the local neighbourhood. Some advertising obviously wouldn’t hurt, as it might be used to expand the reach of “local.”
But if the primary business model for this type of store relies on location, foot traffic, local advertising, and word of mouth, where would the ROI for web-spending come from? After all, you can only fit so many people in the store at once, anyway.
On the other hand, a skilled web marketer could probably leverage the back office side of this strong, authentic local brand by locating “communities of interest” within the online boutique cheese-lover niche. She could budget for some “cheesey” long tail keyword pay-per-click campaigns, automated in the right Facebook newsfeeds.
And then she could ramp up the supply chain to double, triple, or even 10X the sales of the storefront, at perhaps double the gross margins of the bricks part of the bricks-and-clicks business model.
To the ultimate SEO metric, and beyond!
Forbes published an article, “SEO: Focus On The Only Metric That Matters”, in which the author describes “several key metrics used in SEO and give[s] guidelines for how to interpret and benefit from them.”
Starting with a quick breakdown of the most well-known aspects of Google’s search algorithms, namely rankings and backlinks, the author goes on to give concise, accurate assessments of the meaning and value of traffic, bounce rate, and conversions.
While the article is almost exactly 4 years old (that’s a lifetime in Google years), the impact and usefulness of the different SEO tools and measurements are still accurate in terms of helping to define an online marketing strategy.
In the end, though, he concludes the metric that truly matters can’t be measured directly by SEO tools at all. It gets measured by the accountant and the banker on the bottom of the profit and loss statement.
The article ends with this piece of transferrable wisdom:
“While SEO tools like SEMrush can be an invaluable resource in helping you generate profits from your SEO efforts, don’t forget that the metrics these tools give you are a means to an end, and not the end in itself.”
What SEO measures, should get measured twice
There are a great many tools that an expert SEO strategist can use to meet specific tactical and operational needs. The only way any of these tools can cost-effectively generate ROI is by focusing on the reason why the web presence matters at all.
For many businesses, that means nothing more than being “findable” by people who already know what they want to look for. In that case, a good job by an SEO strategist and practitioner would simply ensure correct and consistent listings in the relevant business directories, with a web presence based on authenticated Google My Business status.
Just look me up in the phone book
It’s not that different from the pre-web days when you just made sure your name was spelled right in the phone book, and decided whether you needed a quarter-page ad in the Yellow Pages of that massive, now-forgotten tome.
For all of its world-wideness, the web behaves a lot like a great big city. All the people in the city live within their local little area most of the time. They can and do head off across town for special reasons–work, sports, entertainment, major shopping, social gatherings–but their daily routines tend to stay pretty local.
The true measure of SEO success shows how well your online strategy aligns with where your customers are, and with the reasons that got them there.
To make sure your online marketing efforts are tied directly to the primary drivers of your business profits, book a free consultation with Paul and size up the SEO that fits you just right.