SEO: When Being Optimized Can Hurt
It's a marketing dream come true: A potential customer, looking for what you need to offer, types a few words into her favorite search engine and voila! She is led directly to your website where she can go from "prospect" to "customer."
The best part is, it did not cost you anything to reach the top of her results. Nevertheless, you have got a sale and your customer got what she was looking for. Sounds like the traditional win-win situation.
So, what's not to love about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Plenty - if your attempts to stop there. Because getting your website to the peak of the search result heap is just half the battle. Leave the other half un-fought, and you are actually doing yourself more harm than good.
Lets remember that the ultimate objective of the whole exercise is to finally make sales. And last I checked, search engine spiders were not spending a good deal of money.
As soon as an actual human being attracted to your website and sees a page created for a robot she feels somewhat used. Kind of like being pitched to by the used car salesman in the polyester suit. She reads duplicate that, as opposed to telling her she might benefit from what you need to give, repeats variations of her search phrase again and again. This tells her you do not care about her, you simply want her money. She clicks off and searches more.
This hurts you in at least three ways:
* You drop the sale. So you don't earn any money.
* She visited, as did everybody else sucked in by your high positioning. Based upon your hosting arrangement, you might be paying for more visitors. So you might actually lose money.
* Above all, your prospect now has a negative impression of you. Even if you clean up your act, she is less likely to click on your connection again. It is called negative branding and, you guessed it: It causes you to lose money.
Additionally, it has the potential of hurting you even more in the future, as search engine spiders are getting smarter every day. Not only do they finally catch on if you repeat phrases to deceive them, they also notice if searchers are constantly coming back to the outcomes in a rush because you were not what they were searching for. If this is true, they won't continue to urge you so highly.
It requires more time and more effort to develop content that's both human and spider friendly. However, not doing so can actually do you more harm than good.