The New Year is a time of optimism and hope. Just visit your local gym. You'll be sure to see a crowd of New Year's "resolutionists"--as exercise fanatics like to call them--courageously weightlifting, cycling, and running their way to the new, healthy person they'd promised to be.
Unfortunately, we know from our own experience as well as scientific studies that most of these people will relapse into bad habits. As The New Yorker recently noted:
"When the psychologist John Norcross researched New Year’s resolutions, in the nineteen-eighties, he found that more than fifty per cent of Americans made some sort of resolution. After six months, only forty per cent had stuck with it. When Norcross followed up two years later, the number had dropped to nineteen per cent."
So why do we feel so compelled to make New Year's resolutions--and why do we so often fail?
Two recent posts from The New Yorker offer some intriguing insights into the nature of resolutions--insights that also speak to the matter at hand, at least for us: organic SEO.
You see, over the past year of writing this blog, we've seen the power of organic SEO first hand. As our sponsor, Alex Stepman of Stepmans PC, writes here:
"With a successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign, your website will maintain a top position on the major search engines without extra cost, helping you stand out among your competition across the Internet. A well-optimized web sites is visible on the front page of major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, as well as social media sites like Facebook."
Over the past year, we've seen Stepmans PC transform the performance of websites by using the organic SEO approach outlined in this blog. We've talked to many business owners who have seen their own online business benefit tremendously from search engine optimization. Some have even seen their profits triple in a short period of time!
We've also talked to many business owners who believe in the benefits of organic SEO but have yet to commit to a natural website optimization campaign. It is this group of business owners whom we find fascinating. These business owners often have the cash flow to afford an SEO campaign, and often see the necessity of such a campaign, yet still cannot make the final decision to commence. "Why?" we wonder.
The New Yorker offers several answers.
In her post "Why We Make Resolutions (and Why They Fail)", Maria Konnikova writes about timing and optimism. Apparently, as Konnikova writes, "The beginning of a week, a month, or a year forms what the psychologist Richard Thaler calls a notational boundary"--a turning point, or new beginning. The beginning of weeks and months inspire optimism for many people, and the beginning of a new year inspires extreme optimism for most people.
Unfortunately, this optimism is hard to sustain throughout the week, month, and year. And so many people end up failing. Why? Well, too often we're "too positive." We set unreachable expectations, and condemn ourselves to failure. As Konnikova writes,
"Many backsliders relapse because they have overestimated their own abilities, underestimated the time and effort involved in staying the course, or have an exaggerated view of the effect that the change would have on their lives."
Overestimating abilities. Underestimating time and effort. An exaggerated view of change.
All of these reasons for failure apply directly to our question above: "Why do so many business owners have such a hard time making the decision to begin an SEO campaign?"
Overestimating abilities: Far too often, SEO specialists oversell their abilities. Many SEO-reluctant business owners actually have tried SEO--and have been burned by poor performance. As we've written before, "A poorly-optimized website can be presented to a website owner in a way that makes the website appear as if it were performing very well, and even outperforming all other websites in its industry."
Please read: "Don't Be Fooled: How to Really Check Your Website's Performance on Google."
Underestimating time and effort: Business owners often have unrealistic expectations for their SEO campaigns. These expectations are encouraged by the same SEO specialists who oversell and under-deliver. Real SEO takes time. Only a genuine and honest SEO specialist will reveal this information. Alex Stepman says it best here:
"SEO can be a time consuming process. For most websites, it can take at least six months to be ranked by major search engines. Proper website optimization can create results within a week, but the most important result—the result that will benefit your product or service, and will triple traffic to your web site, inspiring profits, will occur within six months. However, an SEO campaign is worth the wait: a higher ranking will help maintain your web site at a top position. Naturally-promoted websites might take longer to become visible online, but when optimization is complete, your website will maintain a durable spot on the first page of the major search engines."
An exaggerated view of change: This is often the hardest truth for some online business owners to accept--but it is certainly the most important. Quite frankly, many online businesses do not offer a quality product. If you sell a high-quality product at the right price, you deserve customers. And by "product" we mean the actual material good or service and the customer service and marketing. Unfortunately, too many online businesses offer sub par products. Often it is not the exact product that fails but the execution of customer service and marketing.
Of course, SEO can help a business refine its marketing approach. Please read: "How SEO Can Help You Clarify Your Business Offering." But problems arise when online business owners expect an SEO campaign to make up for product deficiencies. A dishonest SEO professional will take your money without any consideration of the quality of your product. But an honest SEO professional will tell you what is best for you--and often that means getting a better product before you begin an SEO campaign. Believe it or not, our sponsor, Alex Stepman, has turned down work from online businesses who were simply not ready for organic SEO.
A resolution can inspire dramatic results, but only if the resolution is made with a clear estimation of a business' available abilities, the time and effort required to make a change, and a clear view of the dynamics of the change. Now is the time to think about change. Now is the time to think about hiring a high-quality SEO professional. If you're interested in learning more about honest organic SEO work performed with integrity, please call Stepmans PC: 215-900-9398.
In next week's blog, we will discuss the second of the two New Yorker posts referenced above, which talks about the "loss aversion," and why people are so afraid of losing money that they often make poor decisions that might actually cost them money. Stay tuned...