Marketing, like any industry, goes through trends and phases. Over the past few years the ‘in-thing’ has been Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Independent dedicated SEO companies have popped up everywhere, and the majority of businesses have now finally caught onto the trend. For a while there, it seemed to be the magical remedy for failing websites. Cheap, easy, effective. But now – after the majority of business has caught on and people are starting to abuse it – is it still working?

I don’t think so. Why? Two reasons. Firstly – Internet Searchers are now accustomed to seeing sponsored links and other tricks of the trade to get them sucked in. How often are sponsored key words relevant to what the person is actually searching for? In my case it seems to be pretty rarely. There are also websites now who are listing hoards of key words at the bottom of their home page or in some hidden location, in the hope they’ll get a wandering searcher to come to their page and make a sale (for something completely irrelevant to what they searched for? I don’t think so). Websites do need to make themselves key word friendly, but there is a line to be crossed and many businesses do it.

Secondly, many businesses rely solely on SEO to direct traffic to their website. Some even invest their entire marketing budget on it. It’s like spending your entire marketing budget on an advertisement in the yellow pages – getting yourself lost in a book that people only use when they have no other alternative. It’s a last resort marketing – capturing the few consumers who filter through the awareness net. The goal of any company with a website should be for 100% direct traffic (they type the web address directly into their browser and go directly to your site) and lots of it. SEO is a back-up tool for strong branding, awareness and advertising. We recommend all businesses understand SEO and use it, however, normally only suggest a maximum of 10% of a marketing budget for SEO, if at all.

Don’t get me wrong – SEO is a great tool. But I think that businesses need to understand how to maximise it, but not abuse it. Here are my three tips for effective, not intrusive, SEO:
1. Update your website as often as you can – at least once a week (that includes the entire website, not just one part of it).
2. Get to know key words used in your particular industry and use them whenever you can within the website copy (I say as I bold key words within this blog article).
3. Keep your website relevant – use a blog, news post, rss feed – whatever you need to in order to keep it up to date with key issues and trends in your industry. Ensure people keep coming back to see what’s new.