Forget SEO – it’s taking your eye off the ball

We’ve heard it all before, haven’t we, that we should have a clear idea in mind of who we are aiming at with our business offering. Indeed, I have said several times in articles on this site that focusing on the target audience is essential to online success.

So, why, oh why, oh why, does every business I come into contact with worry about Google and their search engine rankings? Go to any business networking meeting these days and the talk will be about getting a higher placing up Google’s listings. Before long people are talking all about the technicalities of “Search Engine Optimisation” (SEO) and claiming you need to do this with your site, or that with your site in order for Google to like you.

Well, let’s just hang back a minute. Discussing search engine rankings, worrying about the latest SEO techniques and debating ways of improving your appeal to the likes of Google has taken your mind off what you should be thinking about – your customers or readers.

Let’s be honest about this – no matter how much you please Google with your web site one fact is for sure. They ain’t gonna buy from you. There are vast amounts of effort being expended by SEO specialists, web site owners and a whole bunch of Internet consultants who are all facing the wrong direction. What they are doing is making web sites more interesting and appealing to a bunch of servers controlled by robotic software which is not going to be purchasing anything from you.

Meanwhile, SEO “experts” are helping you avoid what you should be focusing on – the people who will buy from you. The number one thing which would improve most web sites in revenue terms is to immediately stop focusing on SEO and to focus instead on customers. Pleasing search engines will not please your bank manager. So, sack your SEO company and forget all talk about trying to please Google.

And if you think this is harsh advice – forget about blaming me. This is precisely what Google tells us in its advice to webmasters. Focus on your readers, it says. So why do so many businesses give credence to the pseudo-science of SEO? Well, because it sounds credible, it seems to make sense and some SEO companies can show results.

But ask them this. Most people who visit most web sites get there without the help of any search engine. So, how does SEO benefit you in that circumstance? How does SEO reach the people who don’t use search engines?

And if you are offered SEO – test the company first by checking their Google ranking. You will find that most SEO companies are not listed by Google in the first few pages. Search for “SEO company” for instance and you’ll get more than 1.3m results, which means that clearly the vast majority of SEO companies are no good at SEO, otherwise they’d be at the top. Clearly they can’t all be number one, so that in itself makes a nonsense of SEO.

People read your web pages, people buy your products, people recommend you to other potential buyers. SEO can only potentially get you better placing in a search engine which most of those people who buy from you will have never been near. Don’t waste your money.

Other articles on SEO:
Don’t waste your time with search engines
Search engine marketing can waste your time
More misleading stuff about SEO
SEO is a waste of time because Google isn’t very clever after all


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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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