Archive for October, 2009

Do we jump into SEO and SEM too soon?

October 5, 2009 4 comments


The value of web site search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is indisputable.  It has been proven time and time again that businesses can realize a greater ROI with web sites that are well optimized and marketed than ones that are not.  As marketers, we have more great resources available to us than ever before to help our clients achieve SEO and SEM success, in the form of web sites, software, tools, blogs, books, associations, and solution providers. 

Admittedly, given all of its benefits, it is a sin to not consider SEO and SEM at all.  However, in our zeal to wring the most value out of our clients’ web sites, are we often guilty of going too far the other way and jumping right into SEO and SEM activities too soon?  Should we be trying harder to first understand our clients’ overall business objectives, target markets and customer demographics?  It seems that if we do a good job of this up front, it will not only help us make our SEO/SEM efforts for our clients even more effective, it will help us to determine how much investment we should really be putting into SEO/SEM for them, period.

To me, some very basic “who”, ”what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how” types of questions are the best way to get this type of dialog started.  Here are just a few examples of the types of questions we should be asking clients for their consideration: 



Who is typically looking for your company’s product or service?  Who is it that you really want to reach?  Are these the same or different audiences?


What is your desired outcome when potential customers find you?  To sell them something immediately?  To qualify their needs in a consultative manner?  To service them?  To educate and/or entertain them?  


Where are your potential customers located?  Where are you located?  Does location even matter with your particular business and desired clientele?  


When will people be looking for you?  Will it be seasonal or year round?  At particular points in the sales cycle or purchasing funnel?  When they have an immediate problem, or when they have a long-term RFP?


Why do people need your product or service?  As a commodity?  Necessity?  Luxury?  Why might potential customers likely choose you over your competitors?  


How do potential customers most often encounter your business?  Via the web and social media?  Through print ads?  At live events, conferences, or meetings?  Via signage on your store, trucks, or delivery vehicles?


The above list of questions is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you an idea on how a client’s answers can dramatically affect the scope, direction, and volume of your SEO and SEM efforts for them.  If you can suggest other additional important question, or better yet, point out an existing comprehensive source of these “pre” SEO and SEM considerations, please share the wealth!

In the meantime, do you agree that we sometimes jump into SEO and SEM too soon?  Or are we actually doing OK in understanding our clients’ businesses, target markets and customer demographics first?  Should we look at amending, or perhaps revamping, the SEO and SEM qualification process?    

I’d love nothing more than to see a range of SEO/SEM providers, business owners, customers, and industry techies chime in on this topic.

– Jim S.