Recently a client contacted me with a question - "How can I do SEO on my website?" They'd been contacted by one of the many snake oil salesmen lurking around the internet, who'd promised the world for (of course) an exorbitant ongoing monthly fee.
I was happy to advise the client - "You're already doing it!"
Well, there's SEO, and then there's SEM, and it's important to understand the difference.
SEO is Search Engine Optimisation. Search engines want to provide the best results for user queries. SEO is about making your website easy for search engines to find, understand and index, so you can be included in their best results.
SEM is Search Engine Marketing. This is about purchasing advertising space, so your website will appear in relevant search results.
A lot of the time, these people are actually trying to sell you SEM, not SEO. They want to run ads for you (and take a healthy cut off the top).
The best person to do SEO, is your website developer. The problem is, today it's pretty easy to build a quick, cheap website using one of the many website builders out there. Too often, these sites aren't planned with SEO in mind. Too often, people think they can just whip up a site and throw together some ads and voila! Instant riches!
Unfortunately, not. Here's an analogy I use - "It's like hanging the Mona Lisa in a locked room". Your website may LOOK magnificent (anybody can buy a theme/template and install it), but it also needs to WORK for you - people need to be able to find it. Here's another - "There's no point having the best paint job, if the engine leaks". Or in the words of Steve Jobs:
Inevitably, one day the cheap website owner will want more traffic, so they will venture down the SEM path. Unfortunately, SEM alone is rarely a successful long-term strategy. There's no doubt, if you're a large company with a huge marketing budget then expensive SEM will definitely help attract eyes - but the reality is that for most small businesses, you can't afford to do this long-term.
If people can find the Mona Lisa without an ad, that's much better than the alternative, right?
No amount of SEM is going to improve the SEO of a poorly designed website. If somebody offers you SEM without a strategy, you are effectively just handing over your hard-earned $. Google uses over 200 algorithms to determine search results, and while they'll happily take your $ and your ads will get seen, as soon as the ads stop, with poor SEO so will your exposure.
The good news is, one of the BIG benefits of Joomla is inbuilt SEO. Each page can be appropriately tagged for search engine indexing, URLs are Search Engine Friendly (SEF) at the flick of a switch, and once the site has a few other features included such as an SSL certificate, site map, some Google tweaks and a bunch of other bits and pieces, you're well on the way to good SEO. We have a bunch of client sites that successfully appear on Google when they're searched, and they haven't spent a cent on SEM.
So the choice is yours - (1) a cheap site + expensive SEM, or (2) a professional site with inbuilt SEO which doesn't completely rely on SEM for exposure. If your choice is (2), feel free to get in touch :)