Traditional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has long been the practice of many companies.  The client paid the fees proposed by the SEO company, and the SEO company achieved the placement for the desired search terms of the client.  When this worked everyone was happy.

There are some SEO companies that are too big for their britches, resulting in the client not getting the placement they paid for, and little if any money returned.  This is not to say that all traditional SEO companies try and don’t deliver, as there are many credible ones that know their limits.

So as the story goes, SEO company promises were leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths, and these damn people just make our jobs so much harder.  As a result, a few companies stepped up to this opportunity and changed the marketplace by offering a new compensation program; you guessed it, the SEO company would only be paid once the client reached the agreed rankings in the search results.

This was a great revelation.  The client paid a majority of the bill once the SEO company did their job.  The caveat was that many SEO companies then selected search terms that were easier to achieve 1st page search results for.  The terms would be for “long-tail searches,” the client’s business name, or names of principals and shareholders.  These search terms carry low bang-for-the-SEO-buck.

The goal of search marketing is to not to just rank for the business name, but instead for the services or products the business offers, and what consumers would likely search for. As an example, for a plastic surgeon located in Santa Monica, California, a desired search term would be “Los Angeles plastic surgeon.”  The example below shows a returned search page of over 2 million websites.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon Google Search

Knowing that this term carries tremendous competition, some performance-based companies would offer a more “narrow” search such as “Santa Monica plastic surgeon,” which had barely over 400,000 websites returned in the Google Search.

Santa Monica plastic surgeon search

If you think to yourself, that’s great, there’s less competition! This is true, but there are also a whole lot less potential patients for this practice.  If the optimization for “Santa Monica” is a fraction of the cost for optimization for “Los Angeles,” than this is not a problem.  However, the physician in this case needs to understand that there will be less potential patients making such a specific search, particularly to a narrow geographic region.

Other examples include using obscure terms that may only be used within professions, such as “New Jersey tumescent liposuction surgeon.”

Tip: As a company looking to hire an SEO professional, discuss with your employees what search terms YOU think your clients may type in to look for your business. Bottom line is you know your business best, and the SEO can always reccomend “low value” to be omitted.

A reputable SEO should be able to research and add to the list of terms created by you and your staff.  Definitely pick at least 5 or so “priority” terms that your business desires, and then have a list of secondary terms. And since many companies bid SEO projects on search terms individually, you can use this to your advantage in negotiations.

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