From Waistlines To Bottom Lines, You Need A Commitment

When I bought my gym membership, I paid a hefty sign-up fee and agreed to pay a regular monthly fee. When I spoke to the salesperson, I definitely didn't think, "Here's my money, and I will never see you or this gym ever again." I had every intention of going to the gym several times a week and getting in fantastic shape.

However, as with many good intentions, life and its many priorities happen, and those plans fall to the wayside--not intentionally, but nevertheless they become less important.

Regardless of the reason, over the course of the first several months, I saw the charge each month on my credit card statement and started to realize that I'd never actually go to the gym because I lack the commitment. Yet I was parting with all that money each month, so I was really torn.

After nine months, I was incensed, so I called my gym and yelled at the manager, "I haven't lost a pound! I'm in no better shape than when I signed up!" The manager politely asked, "Have you been coming in?" To which I replied, "No, actually not once--but so what?"



Sound familiar? Well, we're witnessing a similar phenomenon in search engine marketing. Companies hire an SEM firm, pay thousands of dollars a month, and then don't implement the recommended changes to the site, resulting in limited success.

There is nothing more frustrating during a search engine optimization engagement than having a client whom we've been chasing, cajoling, and politely reminding to implement the recommended changes for six months asks, "When will I see increases in rankings and traffic?"

Do people really believe that a Web site will grow in rankings even though they have not implemented one single recommendation since the beginning of the engagement?

Sure, there are things we can do outside of the Web site, such as improve the number of directory listings, or otherwise improve link popularity, but if the site cannot be crawled by a search engine spider and doesn't have quality onsite content, all of those efforts will have limited impact.

Data from a recent study we conducted with JupiterResearch, The iProspect Natural SEO Outsourcing Study, revealed that 64 percent of organizations that outsource their natural search engine optimization to an SEO firm encounter obstacles that prohibit them from implementing their vendor's recommended changes to their Web sites. Why?

Who's Afraid of Commitment? Why pay for all the expertise and not use it? There are numerous reasons why this could be happening. We all know that roadblocks in the IT department, due to changes in priorities within the organization, can play a big role. But in the end, failure to implement recommendations usually comes down to three factors: budget, human resources, or organizational commitment.

In fact the latter topic came up during a panel I was on at the OMMA East Conference. Many people in the audience didn't flinch when we discussed the lack of organizational commitment, and most nodded in agreement, as though they see this very phenomenon alive and well at their company.

The Truth Hurts. Eventually, I called my gym and put my membership on pause. I explained to the gym manager that I was just too busy to get in shape, and that I'll come back when I have more time. What I'm really saying is that I'm too busy to improve my health right now. Instead, I'll buy bigger pants and get back to working out when my health becomes a much bigger problem in my life.

When this same conversation takes place with a search engine marketer, it certainly isn't about the size of someone's waistline, but about the effect of inaction that can be felt throughout their organization. When this happens, marketers are effectively telling their SEM firm that they're too busy to double, or perhaps even triple, their Web site traffic and the resulting conversions.

Can you imagine that? Too busy to make more money. That's a first.

Instead, they'll just loosen their bottom line and deal with smaller revenues, thinking: we'll get to this when we're really ready to impress our CEO and shareholders. Bottom line, search marketers must build a solid organizational commitment to the search engine marketing campaign not just in the marketing group, but also in the IT group (who often must implement the SEO changes) as well as the senior management group (who must often fund the cost of the changes)--before engaging an SEM firm. This ensures that they have the implementation resources to execute their vendor's recommendations in order to generate the results their organizations seek.

Getting your body in shape takes personal commitment. Getting your Web site in shape for search engines requires organizational commitment, which can be even harder to obtain. In the end, failing to exercise will do nothing for your waistline. Likewise, hiring an SEM firm and failing to act on its site change recommendations will only reduce your bottom line.

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