Increasing the Odds of Success: Putting SEO In Perspective


            Peter Bernstein, in his bestseller Against the Gods, the Remarkable Story of Risk, stated that no matter what the venture, whether managing a family or managing nations, risk is a factor that must be taken into consideration. No one can infallibly predict success, because there are always variables beyond our control.  “Even with thousands of facts, the track record of experts,” wrote Bernstein, “proves that their estimates of the probabilities of final outcomes are open to doubt and uncertainty.”

            In short, risk is part of business; there are no sure things.  Wall Street does not always lead to Easy Street.  Nor does an internet retail strategy always lead to internet riches. As Robert Burns noted in his ode to a mouse, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

            Nevertheless, we also know from experience that the very opposite is also true.  Attempt nothing, and nothing you will achieve.  In light of this latter equation, efforts at Search Engine Optimization are not optional but necessary. 

            This past month a friend of mine who runs a specialized online retail music business lamented that despite efforts at click-through links and banner ads, he had not found himself making any money despite the traffic brought in.

            I observed, “Your lack of success might well have been your website's inability to easily and quickly lead to a purchase decision. Another failing may be that the traffic generated was too general and not specific enough.”  In other words, SEO and other mechanisms for bringing in web traffic are only one piece of a larger strategic marketing plan.

            He replied that he’d not thought of that.

            The wonderful thing about the net is that we can measure everything.  The hard data we gather helps us fine tune our efforts.  By continually improving our systems, we generate more revenue with the same amount of effort (greater efficiency). Banner ads, pay per click ads on search engines, Google Adwords are all tactics, though none guarantee sales.

            All that said, one sure way to be unsuccessful is to have no traffic at all because no one can find you. SEO is one tool among many that we use to minimize risk and increase odds of success.


Ed Newman is director of advertising for AMSOIL INC., the world's leading independent manufacturer of synthetic motor oils and performance products.