SEO Pizza: I Tried SEO, It Didn’t Work


Client: I’m interested in your digital marketing services, what would you recommend?

MWI: We can recommend a lot of services including content marketing, social media marketing, digital PR, but in your case we see the low hanging fruit with the best ROI being SEO.

Client: I’ve tried SEO before, it didn’t work.

MWI: Can you tell me more about your experience?

Client: Yeah, we hired a firm to do SEO, we paid them $500 per month, and after two months we weren’t #1 for a single keyword, so we fired them.

MWI: Ah, I see…

This is an extreme version of the “SEO pizza” story, but we hear variations of it a lot here at MWI. A client who is dissatisfied with their previous SEO provider comes to us and thinks we can rescue them. The simple fact that they have worked with another SEO firm and weren’t happy before raises a red flag. We know there is ample room for SEO clients to be unhappy about the SEO results when it wasn’t the SEO firm’s fault. The problem might be the client’s definition of “tried” when they say “We tried SEO.”

What Does it Mean to “Try” SEO?

To truly “try” SEO means to give it a chance to succeed on its terms, not your own. Just like making and baking a pizza, there is a recipe for good SEO and if you fail to follow the recipe you’re going to get results that are less than satisfactory. Here are some of the basics:

  1. Ingredients. If you make a pizza with nothing but dough you have bread, not pizza. Bread is good when you want bread, but SEO is a combination of ingredients or services (see What Does An SEO Firm Do?). Did you use all the core ingredients, or just one or two, while expecting to get the results you would only get from using all of them? There’s also the question of whether you’re using the ingredients the right way (see The Long Tail And Why Your SEO Keyword Strategy Is Wrong). The dough goes on the bottom, cheese on top, with sauce in between. Cook it upside down, or use ingredients in the wrong quantities, and you get a different result, even with the right ingredients.
  2. Time. If you tried SEO for two or three months then you didn’t really try SEO. If you tried it for four to six months then you may or may not have given it a real try. If you tried it for 12 months and didn’t get results then you gave it enough time, and if it didn’t work then the problem lies elsewhere. For more on this, see How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working?
  3. Measuring the right stuff. How do you decide whether a pizza is good or not? You could measure diameter, thickness, appearance, distribution of toppings, or taste. Personally, if it gets the first four wrong but the last one right that’s pretty much all I care about. When it comes to your SEO pizza then sales, leads, or other conversions are the taste. The other qualities might be metaphors for rankings, links built, or traffic, but what good are all those things if you’re not selling a ton of stuff? (see SEO: Focus On The Only Metric That Matters)

It’s been said that bananas are nature’s most nearly perfect food, but I think it’s pizza. Just think what you’d be missing out on if the pizza above were the only pizza you ever tried. The next time you try SEO, think about the SEO pizza and give it a real try.

Give SEO A Try

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Written by

Hi! I'm Josh Steimle, and I started MWI from my apartment while a college student in 1999. I'm based in Shenzhen, China and responsible for MWI's overall strategy and marketing. I've written over 200 articles for publications like Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, and Time, and I'm the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work. I love speaking to corporations and at marketing industry events. I was recently recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of 50 Online Marketing Influencers To Watch in 2016. Read more of what I'm writing on my blog.

  • David Austin

    I call people who do that Unvestors (as opposed to Investors). You see it a lot in startups too. A true investor pays first for execution, and only when certain tasks are complete and the market has had a chance to respond do they pay for response, and even then they are not paying for results but for response in terms of trajectory. Only as the model reaches maturity (when campaign-associated CAC and CPC stabilize) do they look at raw results. Its not even a matter of faith, it’s just what you do …. If you’re not an unvestor.

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