Why 90% of Our Clients Don’t Invest in SEO & Why You Should Not Too

Wayne Liew

SEO – the common acronym you must have heard of when you first dipped your toes into online marketing.

Yet, many business owners don’t see the results they want. They can spend thousands of dollars attending SEO workshops. They can even hire SEO consultants or top notch marketing agencies to help them out.

The sad reality is… very few businesses recoup their SEO investment.

Yes, you can blame questionable SEO practices or poor implementation by the consultants they hired. But what about businesses with a homepage that ranks in the 3 spots for the keyword they want?

Many don’t see a corresponding increase in the number of leads, enquiries and customers from their website either.

Why is this happening? Who is at fault? Is it the business owner or the SEO consultant?

The Hard Fact to Swallow: You Are Fighting a LOSING Battle

When you invest in search engine optimization, you are indirectly inviting Google for a dance, and when a giant dances with someone who is relatively tiny, the latter will inevitably get hurt.

We are a medium-sized business ourselves and yes, we were spending resources on SEO up until 9 months ago. Unlike businesses who are just getting started, we have been doing it for more than 15 years. We felt something was off.

In January 2015, we realized the tides are slowly changing against our clients, mainly those who are just getting started with online marketing.

Getting to the top of the search results have become harder for them. High rankings stopped translating into more customers.

We took a step back, and looked at the broader picture. What we found was not surprising for us, but many business owners are in the dark of what’s happening.

Observation #1: Google Search Results Have More Ads Than Ever

Do a search for “buy luggage singapore” and this will be the screen presented.

"buy luggage singapore" Google Search Results

Without scrolling, organic search results are nowhere to be found!

Let’s do a search for a location-specific keyword like “car workshop near raffles place”

"car workshop near raffles place" Google Search Results

Again, where are the organic search results?

Observation #2: Giants Dominate Search Results

5 years ago, Wikipedia was the only prominent web property dominating the first page of search results.

Today, we see big players like TripAdvisor dominating the first page for travel-related search results, Zalora dominating the first page for fashion-related search results, and HungryGoWhere dominating the first page of HungryGoWhere

I did a search for “buy clothes online” and here’s what I got.

"buy clothes online" Google Search Results

Zalora has a clean sweep across the top 3 search results – one to their homepage, one to their men fashion page and another to their women fashion page!

Observation #3: Your Website Cannot Rank for Informational Keywords

Do a search for “best camera for beginner”.

"best camera for beginners" Google Search Results

How many e-commerce stores or company websites do you see on the first page? None.

It doesn’t matter how good your product page is optimized for search engines. A product page or the homepage of your company website will not rank for informational or educational keywords.

Observation #4: Internet = World Competition

Have you ever thought about selling your products worldwide through the Internet? Even if you haven’t thought of that, many business owners around the world are thinking about it.

Bigger businesses with the capabilities to ship their products to Singapore don’t just mention about it on their website. They are trying to get high rankings in the search results presented to Singapore users too.

Look at the search results for “buy wedding decoration”.

"buy wedding decoration" Google Search Results

All the top search results are not based in Singapore.

Why? What’s Happening?

What does all these show?

Consumers Trust Brands, Not SMEs and Google Knows It

Just ask yourself. Would you rather give your credit card information to an unknown website or an established brand you know?

The same is true for Google when they look for signals to improve their search results. When they place an SME website above another website with a strong brand, and the consumer ended up clicking on the latter, that’s when they know consumers prefer to see a website from a strong brand.

Pay-to-play SEO is a Reality

There used to be a time when SEO was sold as a marketing channel that will give business owners free clicks.

Unfortunately, those days are over.

Big companies like Zalora and Lazada have a team of full time writers, SEO marketers and link builders focusing on SEO alone. Unless you have the same amount of budget and a sizable team for SEO, there is no way you can trump their efforts.

So… SEO is Dead in Singapore?

No, not at all. If it is dead, large Internet companies won’t be pouring so much money into it.

The right question to ask is whether SEO should be a priority when you have a limited budget.

What This Means to Your Business?

I always believe the only online marketing goal for any SME should be getting leads and customers.

When a marketing strategy is contributing consistent leads or customers to your business (in other words, positive ROI), there is no need to question its effectiveness anymore.

Position Your Online Marketing Campaigns to Acquire Customers

To start, set up an online lead generation mechanism.

This mechanism is going to help capture the information of visitors who are interested to do business with you.

Once the mechanism is in place, you can then send visitors to it using Google search ads, banners ads, Facebook ads or even Instagram ads.

Setting up the mechanism and ads cost are not expensive at all. In fact, the cost can even be lower than SEO for certain industries. Plus, this set up comes with the following benefits.

Experiment Fast with Paid Channels

It takes about 3 to 6 months to see ranking changes. This is a fact all SEO consultants are going to tell you.

As the business owner, the 3 to 6 months wait is going to be painful. The consultant will start asking for his or her payment way before the 3 to 6 months.

On top of the uncertainty of rankings, what if the rankings fail to bring in new customers? Should you then invest another huge sum and wait for another 3 months? No way!

On the contrary, a lead generation mechanism with a steady stream of visitors coming from paid ads will allow you to make changes and react to the results quickly. In fact, you will know what to tweak within a few days and after spending a few hundred dollars in order to get better results.

Learn More About Lead Generation Mechanism for SMEs

If you are interested to set up a lead generation mechanism for your business, you can check out the process here: https://www.clicktrue.biz/lp/sme.html

Otherwise, if you still want to go ahead and gamble all your marketing budget on SEO, you can download our SEO guide together with a list of top SEO agencies in Singapore here: https://www.clicktrue.biz/lp/seo-guide/

Remember… you need to prioritize the strategy that will get you results, fast and with certainty.


photo credit: too close for comfort via photopin (license)