Through the wonderful interactive nature of blogs, Seth has himself already seen and agreed with a counter-claim made at ConversionRater
So while Seth's advice is good about using keyword buys and optimizing your site, don't ignore search engine optimization. Either find someone reputable by doing diligent research to help you, or learn it yourself through many of the free resources out on the web.
of course, you're right.
My own greatest dissappointment with Seth's posts (and indeed thought process) was with the following statement from his original blog post:
Lucking into (and it is luck) the top slot of a great word on Google is not a business plan. It's superstition. It's blind faith.
From a man who usually has such a smart mind for marketing, this seemed to show an oversight that would have been incredible, and therefore seems to indicate a personal 'bigotry' against SEO.
You see, running any form of advertising involves guesswork and faith. Oh, you can place your ad for cash, but how many people will respond? That part is always guesswork to the exact same extent.
Usually, with other forms of advertising, the guesswork is in the needs of the audience. You try to get a demographic breakdown, by age, gender and broad interest, and then place an ad in front of those people. You hope that this isn't the week when that audience will change. Or the week when people won't tune in.
Even then, you are only hoping and praying, pretty much on blind faith, that if you pitch to enough folks in the right general demographic group for your needs that x percentage of them will take the ad well, remember it later when buying.
SEO has far greater targeting and involves far less 'faith' in that respect. I'm never having to guess that people might just possibly be interested in what I offer, but am instead replying to their own independant assertion of interest. Less guesswork. Less 'blind faith'.
Seth shows a sad lack of understanding of how people use search. I don't need to be #1 for one and only one phrase. 50% of referrals that end in a sale come through unique searches to them. Searches that turn up only once in a thousand referrals.
The 'window shopper' searching for 'cameras' is attractive only to the SEO doing a PR campaign. Where the site isn't ROI focused and is focusing on branding as the
place for cameras.
The average person searching for cameras is nowhere near the buying part of the shopping process, and statistically speaking, will not go through the entire shopping process on the same site
. That only happens with impulse buying - not shopping.
People online shop much as people offline do. They start with an idea of what they want. They go to a few stores to see what's on offer. They may already have a preference for a certain brand, but mainly are looking for information.
They shop around, touring not just one site in the first and only search, but many of them in several searches. They see what many stores offer, what models and makes have the right balance of values and features. They inform themselves and research the purchase.
They'll probably ask folk offline that they know about what cameras, or at least makes, they'd buy (assuming that it wasn't a friend's purchase that inspired their shopping in the first place). That friend may also recommend a particular site too.
They may well search more. This time they'll be qualifying their search a lot. They won't search for cameras, but will instead search for something like "Kodak camera that takes panoramic view photos" or ", etc.
Once all that is done, they'll usually not be searching for cameras. they'll have a make and model that they want. That's what they'll search for, to find the best price and value of deal they can get. This
is when the buying process starts, and they may have already visited over 20 sites to get here. They will now be using real buying terms like "Pentax camera suppliers in Cleveland" (see that they are looking specifically for a store or supplier, and have given a region to keep shipping costs low or non-existant?)
'Black Arts' my Aunt.
Real SEO isn't based on 'secrets' but on knowledge that is rare only because it may be hard-won. We give away much of this information right here hour after hour, day after day. It is not a black art, but a specialist knowledge gained from working at it.
If you want to see 'Black Arts' ask ad sales people how they sell ads. Most will ring up a company and say "competitor X is running a double page ad this week, and since we're pals I thought I'd give you a heads-up and see if you'd wanter to counter that with an ad of your own". That happens every day.
The people who see your ad on AdWords and ring all your competitors to use that as a spur to get those competitors to open or increase their own AdWords budget and compete against you, driving up the costs, diminishing the benefit, and making the ads companies very happy.
There's guesswork in all advertising. In whether or not a competitor will be running a bigger and better ad that will overshadow your own. SEO involves less guesswork than many forms of marketing, and to highlight the guesswork of SEO alone is frankly disappointingly naive-seeming of the usually insightful Mr Godin.