Do you remember the time you’d go shopping for something and it took you all day to purchase it because you’d store jump and compare prices? How about the time you needed a plumber and you opened up what seemed to be endless listings inside the Yellow Pages? It wasn’t that long ago, huh?
Here’s a fun fact for you: SEO, or optimization, has been around since the late 60s. The idea was to collect a large amount of data and then organize it by category or industry. This directory would contain commercial and non-commercial listings for consumers. However, the concept of “saving time,” customer experience and advertising, dates back to the earliest civilizations known to man. Businesses in the 70s would purposely call their business “A Plumber,” or “AA Plumbing,” or my favorite, “AAA Plumbing” because business owners realized that if they can be amongst the first listings in the directory (which at this time was in alphabetical order), they can capture more business. Customers cycling through the Yellow Pages for services that they need or think they need, is what we marketers call “intentional buyers.” They are ready to make a purchase now, and all that is left to do is decide who to buy from.
Fast forward to present day, the digital era. Buyers ready to buy now, will conduct organic searches to find specifically what it is they want to buy. Search Engine Optimization has evolved immensely since its birth 25 years ago. Google, Bing and other search engine platforms share one commonality, and that is that they are built for users, not for businesses. So, it begs the question, “Why is SEO important for MSPs?”
Here’s the obvious: SEO will improve your website’s overall searchability and visibility. Many brands and businesses, regardless of the industry, know (or maybe don’t know) that you need SEO for your digital properties. That’s it, the end — right? Unfortunately, I wish it was that easy to sell to an MSP on the importance of SEO for their business.
Fact: I know MSPs right now that are eager to grow and scale, but their SEO is blank; thus, resulting in being a ghost online. Title tags, meta descriptions, keyword phrases — all absent on the back end of their website! I’ll even be a little more aggressive here and make this statement, “If you don’t take SEO seriously, your MSP will drown in the abyss.” The consensus is that most MSPs, if not all MSPs, struggle with lead generation and sales. I wonder why that is? Allow me to admonish in kind — your marketing efforts suck! Now, this isn’t entirely your fault. I can’t hold it against those that are simply uninformed about SEO and how it works. So, to the population of MSPs that are just foreign to the importance of SEO, you’re forgiven. To those that do know, however, and flat out ignore it — you know who you are — I want to help you and all MSPs have a “renewal of the mind” about SEO. Outside of the obvious reasons as to why SEO is necessary for your MSP, here are a few more to bring it all home:
1. Organic Search Is the Primary Source of Website Traffic
With Google owning about 75% of the search market, it matters whether you’re fully optimized or not. Google now has over 200 ranking factors to determine whether you are found on an organic search or not. This includes: the speed of your website, whether or not you’re mobile friendly, accuracy of keywords to your web pages and images, and many more! Think of it like this: let’s say you’re on a sales call and your prospect is listening to your pitch. They say to themselves, “Wow, this is exactly what I need!” As you’re pitching away, your prospect attempts to find you online while actively listening to how you plan to resolve their issues. You can’t blame them for digging a little deeper about who you are, right? If we can be honest with ourselves, do you think they are going to buy services from a tech company that has little to no information online about themselves — no website or LinkedIn page? Can you imagine the gravitas associated with a prospect asking you how to find you online?! Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines is always going to work in your MSP’s favor. A high-quality website and quality SEO build trust and credibility.
2. Good SEO Means a Better User Experience
We all wish to be at the top of a Google search result for maximum visibility. In doing so, that also leads to a maximum user experience. Google has learned how to interpret a positive or negative user experience, and a positive user experience has become one of the 200+ ranking factors that is a pivotal element to a website’s success. Remember the term “intentional buyer?” Customers know what they want, and if they can’t find it, there’s a problem. Really pay attention to the next time you search for something using Google. Have you noticed that Google is more of an answer engine, offering specific data on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for users? This is designed to offer users the information they seek in fewer clicks, quickly and easily.
3. Local SEO Means More Engagement, Traffic and Conversions
In 2014, mobile search surpassed desktop search for the first time in history and it hasn’t looked back. Local search has become a fundamental part of small and medium-sized businesses. It aims to optimize your digital presence within a specific geographic location, so that people can find you quickly and get them closer to a sale. To promote this, you should optimize your brand’s Knowledge Graph panel, your Google My Business listing, and your social media profile. Another key component to the success of your local SEO is the importance of Google reviews and the like. Globalization matters! There’s an old Jewish proverb that says, “Do not boast about yourself. Instead, let others boast about you.” Good reviews for the services you provide helps you immensely on acquiring new business. It also holds you accountable for the services you are promising to deliver.
4. SEO Brings New Opportunities
A solid SEO will always discover and leverage new opportunities for your MSP to be discovered and shine. The better your brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help you thrive. Recently, I conducted an organic search for “MSP” in Google. Want to know what came up? First, Google thought I made a spelling error and suggested that I meant to search “maps.” After trying again, it thought I meant the airport code for Minneapolis-St. Paul. After a third try, it suggested I might want to play Movie Star Planet, a social game for kids. I also got the Michigan State Police. What does this all mean? It means that as a member of the MSP community, we are doing a poor job of communicating who we are, what we do and how we do it. If you don’t believe me, Google it! As a community, we can no longer ignore the importance of SEO for our industry. Collectively, we must do a better job of being ambassadors of managed services and really pump more content out there for the SMBs to know that we even exist. There are so many businesses that could really benefit from managed services and it is our fiduciary responsibility to be proactive with our SEO efforts to not only benefit from it financially, but also to educate the vast population that doesn’t even know our services exist. Take it from someone who didn’t know what “MSP” meant until joining The 20.