Do I need SEO for my website?

In this episode of Make SEO Simple Again, I’m going to let you in on a little secret on how I made $10,000 in sales in the first 30-days of a new business without SEO.

So is search engine optimization actually needed?

Well, I can’t answer that for you but I can give you a 3-question framework so that you can find the right answer for you and your business.

Let’s get started!

Full Transcript

Hi guys. You know what? I don’t feel like opening with hi guys anymore. Let’s try another few options. Hi everyone. Hmm. Okay, definitely not that. Hi YouTube. Maybe you’re not watching this on YouTube. Hi everyone. I already said everyone. Hi superstars. Hmm. Hi y’all. I kind of like that one because one of my favorite SEOs Bernard Huang says y’all a lot, mostly because he’s Texan. Hi superstars. Hmm, I don’t feel like that’s very natural. You know what? Hang on. Hang on. I think I got it. Give me a sec. Hey, y’all welcome to Make SEO Simple Again. Now, by the end of this video, you will know whether or not search engine optimization is right for you or right for your business. Because most people who offer SEO services will tell you that you must need to invest in SEO. Because without SEO, oh my God, you’re not going to survive. Your business is going to crumble. Is this true? Well, let’s find out. I’m Daniel K Cheung. Let’s Make SEO Simple Again.

All right. So you probably know what I’m going to say here, but it may surprise you. Is SEO necessary for a business to make sales? Let’s find out. In a previous episode we decided that SEO is the process of doing all the things that make your website better for not just search engines, but humans. And I’m going to have a link to that video in the description below, but this is based on a Google documentation of what their definition of SEO is. However, we’ve scratched out the word search engines because ultimately, and through the progression of Google’s algorithms, SEO really is about doing the things that make a website better for its users, which are us, humans. And so to recap, the three pillars of search engine optimization involve on-page. And this is because search engines need content to understand what the page is about so that you can rank it accordingly.

And in order to do this search engines must first find the pages on a website and this refers to technical SEO. And the third pillar is off-page SEO, but writing great content and making sure Google can find it is not enough. You must first prove that you can be trusted and you kind of have to do all three things. You can satisfy all three pillars of SEO. And generally speaking, I would recommend that you start off with technical so that you can identify whether there are any issues with your website and its pages being crawled, rendered, or indexed. And then you can invest in producing content that solves a user’s query and only then would I recommend that you start investing in building your credibility and trust in your space through building back links. So that’s a recap of what SEO essentially is. And you have to do kind of all three in unison to achieve high visibility for the keywords that you want to rank for.

So I guess it comes down to this, do all businesses or websites need SEO to run at a profit? And the answer is no. For example, I made 10K revenue in 30 days without actually doing much SEO. You see in, I think February of 2020, I started this side hustle called HARO liaison. And what it does was it allowed other small business owners to get back link mentions through this service called HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out. And so I started, all I did was I put together this WordPress website and made sure that it could be crawled, rendered and indexed. And of course I did invest in some long form content. And here are three examples of content that I wrote. And according to Google search console, they all do have some of the relevant keywords attributed to it.

But the sales that I made wasn’t through SEO. In fact, it was because of the personal relationships that I built and someone else knowing that this was what I was doing and then posting that into a I guess, a SEO focused Facebook group that I managed to have three sales that counted for $10,000. And if you look at the website metrics according to Ahrefs, you can see it has a very low DR score. In fact, as of just last week, it hardly has any organic traffic, which isn’t surprising since I kind of shut this business down in May of 2020, and you can see, look, it has a little bit of off-page SEO done. And so you can see here, this is not completely true. Like I did do some SEO in the sense I did technical SEO. I did on-page SEO, and I did some off page SEO, but how I made those sales, how I made that revenue and profit was not due to the actual SEO itself.

And so quickly just looking at the Google search console from the end of March to pretty much end of September, you can see things didn’t really rank or there was no visibility of the pages that I had created up until pretty much May. And you can see this just upward trajectory of both impressions and clicks, which is interesting. Because pretty much when COVID hit, I started to realize that there weren’t many opportunities on HARO, and therefore I stopped offering the service. But as you can see, if you invest in the three pillars of SEO and you make your website better for humans and you produce content that answers questions really well. Then across time, you will see this gradual increase in clicks, impressions and rankings.

So what other business do not rely on SEO? Well, really establish that not all business models rely on online sales or have a long sales funnel, many profitable business run purely on paid ads. Especially if the products in their inventory have very short runs, some businesses just don’t need SEO. And these include early stage startups. And this is because startups typically are disruptive and therefore there’s just no way to search for what they offer in people’s lexicons. Businesses, where the majority of customers are on platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram. Dropshippers are another example where they don’t really rely on SEO. And the fourth category are small businesses that rely on high volume of reoccurring foot traffic. For example, your local fruit market or deli at the mall. Plus there are some downsides to marketing on Google search. And what are these downsides to marketing on Google search engine result pages?

Well, competition on the search result pages for products can often come down to two things, stock availability, and pricing. If you’re selling a commodity, for example, something that is easily interchangeable with another similar product, consumers tend to pick the lowest price. Therefore, if your store is not well-known, undercutting the competition with a competitive price may end up hurting you more. And as we know, SEO takes weeks, months, or even years for your product or service page to rank on the top of page one. And here’s another thing most people cannot differentiate between an ad listing and organic listing. So when it comes to really competitive keywords, quite often you will, in the top of the page of your search result page are four ads. And therefore, even if you manage to be the top three of the organic search results, most lay people won’t even get there because Google knows if it’s serves four of the best performing ads that are relevant to that search, a user will probably not scroll down Further to the page.

And there is no guarantee that your page will stay on page one, because Google can take it away without a moment’s notice. So is SEO a good fit for me, in this instance it’s for you, or is it a waste of time and money? And for you to be able to answer this for yourself, I’m going to give you a three question framework. Question number one, do customers go through a decision tree? Prior to purchase are there questions that a typical customer will need to find the answers to? If so, what are the exact questions that they are asking before a decision before they make a decision to buy or not to buy? What sources of information do they trust when they are doing their research? Are other brands or businesses producing pages of content that answer these questions?

And decision tree essentially is opportunity for your brand to get their attention or the user’s attention through informational content. Question number two, do you have capacity to produce content? There is a misconception that SEO costs nothing. This is simply not true, even when you’re doing it for yourself. Because making your website better can cost a lot of time and money. You’ll need to research topics, write and publish content. Is this something you can stick with? Are you able to publish new content to your website? Search engines love content. And if you are unwilling or unable to publish content that answers prospective customers’ questions, SEO is probably not for you. And the final question, and possibly the most important one to answer, is SEO right for your business is, are you already making sales? Sales as you know, is the life of a business as it keeps cashflow positive.

Like ranking in the SERPs, you need to earn the trust of your customers before they are willing to buy from you. This takes time. Researching topics, publishing content and waiting for your content to move up in the SERPs can take a long time. And even if you gain visibility, you still have to convert the website traffic into paying customers. Therefore, you’ll need to find a way to make sales as you wait for your content to work for you. For example, using channels such as paid traffic, cold calls or word of mouth marketing. So if you’re already not making sales and not willing to invest in creating content, SEO is not for you. And that’s a 100% okay. Many businesses sell products where competing on quality and quantity of content information is so high that they are better off focusing on other things. If however you are already making consistent sales, have the capacity to grow and have the resources to invest in content creation and content marketing, SEO is a valuable customer acquisition channel.

And that my friends hopefully gives you some clarity of whether SEO or search engine optimization should be a priority for your business. And again, as someone who works in digital search every single day, the answer is always a little bit complicated. It depends. It depends on where your business is right now and what your goals are. And sometimes in many cases when I consult with new prospects, I’ll tell them, “Maybe SEO, isn’t the best fit for you right now.” Get some sales, understand what your customers want, and then come back to me once you’re ready. And so hopefully this video has been very helpful in helping you understand what you should be focusing on right now to grow your business. And as always, thumbs up if you liked it, subs if you’ve loved it. And I’ll see you in the next video.

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