Five Myths About Search Engine Optimization
Traditionally, banks are more conservative with their investment dollars. Unlike many venture capitalists or angel investors, they are far more likely to approve a loan for an established business over a startup or emerging company. This is largely due to the fact that they are investing the money of their depositors.
However, thanks to government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), which work with many banks, small business owners can get business loans from banks with a strong business plan and well-prepared business loan request. Moreover, banks are more likely to give modest-sized loans, whereas venture capitalists are looking for much larger deals.
First and foremost, prior to approaching a bank, you should have all your key documents in order, starting with a solid business plan. You will also need to have the most recent financial statements available, projections for the business (this is typically in the business plan), and a repayment plan, plus collateral. Collateral may include:
Hard goods such as equipment; Real estate; Stocks or bonds; Other personal assets; Personal guarantees.
Banks also want to know that you're making your own investment in the business. A bank is more likely to approve a loan if (pending a solid business plan) it sees that the owners are investing a good percentage of the necessary startup capital into the business.
To maximize your chances of receiving approval on a business loan from a bank, it's wise to look at the situation from the standpoint of the lender. A lender wants to know:
Exactly how this business will operate and why it's expected to make money; Exactly how the money will be used; How you plan to repay the loan and over what time frame; That you're willing to take a significant financial risk in the business; That you're responsible and can manage this business; Who else is involved in management or operations, and that they will also be responsible for the proper use of the money from the loan.
The smaller the business, the more closely the individual behind it will be evaluated. Most small businesses, in the forms of sole proprietorships or partnerships, are closely tied to the experience, know-how, and overall character of the owner(s). Therefore, you need to make sure you get your own financial records in order before asking for a bank (or any lender, for that matter) for money to start a business. A solid personal credit rating is also very important, since a small business is typically an extension of the individual who starts it.
Get more tips on Small Business Loans, from the fastest way to finance your small business, to negotiating a Business Loan on AllBusiness.com. AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance and expand their business. Copyright © 1999 - 2007 AllBusiness.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By: AllBusiness.comAs the CEO of a leading internet marketing agency and active participant in the web marketing industry, I get to talk, email, IM, DM, ping, Tweet, Plurk and share information with a broad range of people. Some are prospective clients, some are potential business partners and many others are simply like minded individuals at conferences and events, on blogs, discussion threads, forums and real world networking events.
Out of these discussions, many of which involve search engine optimization, it's amazing the variety of perspectives on what is true about SEO. True, the industry changes as often as consumers change their information search and consumption habits. But the misinformation that persists doesn't help anyone.
Below I'll outline 5 common myths about search engine optimization that will help small business web site owners make better decisions in their internet marketing.
1. "SEO is a collection of tricks".
If you're "fooling" the search engines, then you're probably fooling users too. Guess how well that kind of activity converts? "Real" SEO involves a lot more than optimizing content, getting links and using disposable marketing "tricks". Tricks and tactics may be a matter of semantics depending on who you talk to, but many of the tactics reputable search marketing firms associate with productive and long term SEO include:
- Search Marketing Strategy
- Competitive Analysis
- Keyword Analysis
- Creative Copy Writing
- Web Design & User Experience
- Information Architecture
- Server Side Issues
- Code Optimization
- Digital Asset Optimization
- Other channel marketing that affects SEO (social media, news search, blog search, etc)
- Ongoing Content Development & Promotion
- Ongoing Link Building
- Web Analytics
- Conversion Analysis
2. "Our prospects aren't influenced by search engines"
I actually used to keep my laughter to myself when people would say this. You don't have to do too much research to find out if a market is viable for marketing via search engines.
According to a recent release by comScore, there are 11.5 billion internet searches on the 5 major search engines in June 2008. Those numbers have actually gone up a bit since the report.
A quick way to start investigating a market is to search and find out if how much relevant content is out there. If your market is brand new, then you may have an easier time dominating it on search engines by becoming an authority on the topic earlier than your competition.
3. "SEO is a one time event"
This one is still pervasive and indicative of what search engine optimization used to be. Sort of like "SEO circa 1999" when all you had to do was update Meta tags, add keywords to web pages and submit. Those are the Model T days of SEO.
Search engines like Google look at over 200 "signals" to determine relevancy and to decide how to sort search results. Add in the increasing numbers of competing documents from various media, blogs and web site along with more savvy search marketers and it's easy to realize that effective SEO requires ongoing attention to more than just web pages. Optimizing digital assets such as images, video, pdfs, MS Offics docs and RSS require ongoing attention and monitoring. Creative link building, creation and promotion of new content, integration with other online/offline marketing, social media, analytics and optimization refinements are also necessary.
4. "SEO is a function of IT"
Search engine optimization started out in the cubicles of IT, but has moved it's way into the executive offices for many companies. I believe the most recent SEMPO state of the search industry research shows that companies are no longer borrowing from other cost centers to fund their search marketing initiatives. It's a business decision line item like any other marketing expenditure.
However, IT and Web Design/Development "buy-in" are critical for proper implementation and it's important to understand that in larger organizations, SEO is multi-departmental. Marketing, IT, Public Relations, Legal, Creative and possibly operations might all be involved in some way with a strategic initiative to help reach business goals through improved organic search performance.
Regardless of the size of the company, SEO initiatives should be managed strategically by the business like any other major marketing effort.
5. "Our site doesn't get a lot of visitors, so SEO wouldn't work for us."
With comments like this are the classic "chicken before the egg" type of thinking. You would be surprised how many intelligent, accomplished corporate marketers have said the above.
The reality is that comments like this are an indication of insecurity about search as a discipline or about search as a viable marketing channel for a particular business. Smart people say things like this because they are not confident about the solution being presented and want to get out of or avoid the conversation. Anyone else who uses such logic just doesn't understand marketing.
Either way, I always recommend to companies that if they're considering search engine optimization, regardless of who helps them, they need to look at it long term. SEO is not push button marketing and it is not for the impatient. The minimum amount of time we recommend is 6 months after implementation before evaluating whether SEO has promise as a profitable marketing channel. Anything less than that is not worth starting.
Are there more myths and misconceptions, misunderstandings and pure bull$#@! out there about SEO? Sure there is. And the fact that, in some ways, keeping up to date with search marketing best practices is like putting a puzzle together when the picture likes to change from time to time, makes it even more challenging.
It's all the more reason to find trusted resources that you can rely on and to build a network of people to bounce ideas off of so you can separate the facts from the myths. There is no substitute for firsthand experience.
Get more tips on starting a business and growing your sales at AllBusiness.com. AllBusiness has been helping small business owners start, manage and grow their businesses since 1999. Copyright 1999 - 2009 AllBusiness.com Inc. All Rights Reserved.