Many people dismiss web marketing as a fad or something just for geeks and nerds. If we're in a meeting with a marketing or managing director discussing their web presence, when the conversation moves on to the search engine aspect of promotion, a quick phone call is then made to the IT department and a ‘translator' is summoned to the room.
I.T. strikes fear into the souls of many people. It's seen as an impenetrable fortress of acronyms, thick manuals and buzzwords created solely to ensure ‘normal' people will never really understand it. In some cases, rightly so. Accountants spend an awful lot of time learning their trade so you don't have to do your own books, IT people spend an awful lot of time learning their trade so you don't have to bother with computers. But why is search engine marketing tarred with the same brush?
Back in my system support days we used to joke that the IT department dealt with ‘anything with a plug'. We'd get calls from people to help with their fax machine, photocopier and in one case – a kettle.
It seems that rather than get better, this state of affairs has got worse and the Internet is just seen as one big ‘thing with a plug' and if you dare mention search engines, I'd better go get my trust sword wielding geek-a-bot to help out.
How do we fix this?
Search engine optimisation as well as web development should be seen by companies as a marketing exercise and one that can bring rich rewards. It is no different to any other marketing campaign or technique – you simply use a different medium and you see the same results. Similarly, just like traditional marketing, the more you put in the more you get out and regardless of what people tell you, it ‘aint free.
Return on investment is the key here. If you are willing to put something in, you will see things come out – usually business, profits, cash – boring things like that and the bonus here is that there is a direct relation. I can point to a customer investing 20% more in their CPC campaign and getting %25 rise in turnover out the other end. It's visible, it's measurable and it's tangible.
Traditional I.T. on the other hand is usually an indirect cost in that the relation between the investment put in and the benefits coming out is lost in the general melee of ledger accounts, cost centres and dodgy lease agreements.
If you want to see SEO and web marketing flourish in your company, don't lump it in with I.T. and other technical shenanigans, hand it over to marketing, measure it and make some money – everyone else is doing it, why aren't you?
Obviously this entire post is rendered useless if Microsoft bring out a certification in SEO. If that happens, I'm leaving the Internet.