Sometimes it can be hard relating certain aspects of the Internet marketing business to those in another person’s/client’s industry. For example, it’s true that the end product of an SEO/SEM/PPC/social media campaign for a client should be an increase in leads that they are obtaining. Not an increase in traffic, an increase in SERP, or an increase in blog comments or e-mail questions, but an increase in business. But as Internet Marketing professionals, is your website your number one source of leads?

I’m sure that companies who have been established in the industry for a long period of time, have a large portfolio of clients, a web site that has been developed over the past however many years, and rank for almost every major keyword related to their industry get a fair amount of leads from their sites. But for everyone else, when it really comes down to it, isn’t word-of-mouth still the most powerful lead generation tool available to Internet Marketing professionals?

A client once said to me, “well I just did a Google search for Baltimore SEO and figured if you showed up on the front page, you knew what you were doing and if you didn’t, why should I work with you if your own site can’t rank??”. While some people do still think like this (probably most of the time because they don’t know who else to turn to for their Internet marketing efforts and a Google search is the most time-effective method) it’s still my opinion that, in the Internet Marketing AND web design industries, referrals, grass-roots marketing, and networking leads to more clients than ranking for keywords and running PPC ads.

It can be hard to explain this to others not in the industry as well as clients because 1) they don’t understand the level of competition and amount of effort that is involved with ranking for certain keywords (it’s no secret that my operation is a one-man show and I barely have time to write on this thing let alone promote it… like I’ve said before, it’s like the auto mechanic driving around an old beat up hooptie), 2) with all of the smoke and mirrors and dishonest practices that many in the Internet Marketing world practice these days, a trusted referral from someone they know is more valuable than paying a high retainer in exchange for a lot of empty promises.

Does SEO/SEM work for almost every other industry? Of course, if done correctly. But in our own industry? I’m not so sure.

It’s pretty obvious that I recently started targeting the keywords “Maryland Internet Marketing” and “Maryland SEO” to see if traffic improves, but believe it or not, this is mainly used for me to share whatever knowledge I have and help network with others in the business.

I’d love to hear from those who have been in the industry (SEO as well as Web designers and firms) for a while as well as newbies who are ranking well for their keywords… are you getting quality clients from your site or do you agree that nothing beats rolling up your sleeves and spreading the word?

-Murph

ps In “soccer” news, USMNT vs Cuba this weekend at 7:00 pm at RFK, I’ll be there covering the match, watch it on ESPN classic and cheer our boys on as we cruise through qualifying!

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