SEO Strategy: Short-term feeding vs long-term foundation-building

by Kate Brodock on 9 December 2009

Posted in: Business to Business,Toolkit

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I’m working with a company in the B2B space that has an interesting but very common website case:

  • They have an old, basic and static site
  • It has very weak SEO
  • They’re paying significant amounts of money for Google Adwords each month to get them page ranked
  • They’re not tracking anything

Luckily, they want this to change.  In conjunction with a website design overhaul, we’re going to completely up-end this model and flip it on it’s head (or side, or whatever).

One of the main topics of conversation has been the issue of Google Adwords – do we use them or not.  My answer is no, not right now.  A few further thoughts to that end [Disclaimer - I had a quick call with the team at HubSpot, as I would like to use their product in this process, and some of these thoughts stem from a conversation I had with Vas]:

  • Firstly, there is nothing in place right now to determine the effects of their Adwords: they don’t know who’s clicking, what they’re clicking on, if they’re qualified leads, etc.  All they know is that they’re the first (sponsored) link that shows up on Google for one of the keywords.
  • There was little research done to choose those keywords, and it was based loosely on product lines.  The list also hasn’t been updated in many years.
  • They have little to no effective SEO built into their site, which hasn’t been changed in over five years.

Essentially, they’ve put Adwords in place and let it run.

They’re simply paying the meter to reserve a parking spot, and hope they don’t have a cop come around and write them a ticket or tow the car away. Because that’s what would happen the minute they stopped paying the meter if they’d relied on their existing website.  The Adwords are only giving them short-term benefits while they’re still paying.

What we’re working towards is building their own parking lot where they won’t have to worry about paying the meter: An architecturally strong website, with sophisticated SEO, continually updated content, metrics in place to determine how people are accessing and using the site, and developing more paths for people to get there.

Does that mean we nix Google Adwords?  For now, yes. There doesn’t seem to be much point in using them if they don’t know what they’re bringing to the table. It’s sort of like parking in the first available spot before you know if it’s close to your lunch meeting near City Hall (“It’s around here somewhere,” he said.).  There might be spots closer.  Heck, City Hall could have it’s own free parking lot.

But only for now. Once we’ve gone through the process of developing a much stronger foundation – our website, and once we understand the best keywords to use (though, ideally, we’ve keyword-maximized the site so well that it can stand alone)….once we’ve really built something with a long-term future…..only then should Adwords be used to supplement these efforts. We’re building their own parking lot that they can park in on most days, and telling them where the best spot to pay for is next time they have lunch near City Hall….

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  • http://adamhcohen.com adamcohen

    I love the meter/parking spot analogy. It's really important to lay the technical foundation properly. I have always thought of SEO as being a combination of art and science: there are about a dozen things you need to do (including the technical foundation on the site), and if you only do 11 of 12 you may not get much impact. But when all 12 are in full effect, it can be amazing. Great post Kate!

  • http://adamhcohen.com adamcohen

    I love the meter/parking spot analogy. It's really important to lay the technical foundation properly. I have always thought of SEO as being a combination of art and science: there are about a dozen things you need to do (including the technical foundation on the site), and if you only do 11 of 12 you may not get much impact. But when all 12 are in full effect, it can be amazing. Great post Kate!

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