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The Super Bowl of Unrealistic SEO Expectations

SEO is no longer optional for most businesses. It's time for us to educate businesses about what SEO can do for them in a realistic manner.

The Super Bowl & Unrealistic SEO Expectations

There’s a famous quote, usually attributed to the real-life purveyor of the original freak show, and a fictional character in the rousing musical “The Greatest Showman”, PT Barnum.

“I don’t care what the newspapers say about me, as long as they spell my name right.”

On Super Bowl Sunday, many in the SEO community had the opportunity to agree or disagree with this sentiment.

For those that missed it, the infamous site builder Wix returned to the Super Bowl ad line-up for a fifth time with a commercial starring “supermodel” Karlie Kloss.

Predictably, Kloss started out touting the well-known “what you see is what you get” (WSYWIG) editor in Wix.

But then, Kloss started talking about SEO. And Wix.

Let people find you online,” Kloss says in the commercial. “Wix SEO Wiz helps you grab those top SEO results”

As the commercial aired, I heard a collective sigh throughout the SEO industry.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with sarcastic comments and downright indignation.

Anyone who has ever tried to do SEO on a Wix site knows that it’s no walk in the park.

And here is Wix, paying around $5 million to tell more than 100 million people that their SEO Wizard will “grab those top SEO results.”

The question is – did Wix just devalue the industry, or give the industry a boost because they spelled SEO right?

5 Years of Wix in the Super Bowl

If Wix’s ads worked, they saw a significant increase in interest for their platform.

We’ll probably never know exactly sign-ups these Super Bowl commercials are netting Wix, but the fact that they’ve continued to spend the money five years in a row tells me either it’s working or the folks running Wix aren’t very smart.

Think about it.

Even if we look at the numbers conservatively, in the last five years Wix has spent close to $20 million dollars on two and a half minutes of commercials.

Wix highest priced subscription website subscription is $29/month. Business plans run from $20-$35 a month.

From what I can tell, the SEO Wizard, which provides “Industry leading SEO” is included with all paid Wix plans.

Based on my experience, I’m going to guess the lifetime value of a Wix customer is around $500 total.

So to break even, Wix needs to attribute 40,000 sign-ups to its Super Bowl campaigns.

I suppose it’s possible.

Not probable, but possible.

And all of those new Wix users think that their SEO needs are being met by the Wix SEO wizard.

SEO for Wix Is a Nightmare

I have experience trying to make a Wix site rank for a semi-competitive term.

It isn’t easy, and ultimately I didn’t succeed.

This could be a reflection on my skills as an SEO, however, I didn’t have any problems ranking the same site for many competitive keywords when we moved it to WordPress.

My experience seems to be echoed throughout the SEO world.

While it’s possible to rank a site built in Wix (heck, even John Mueller said so), it’s a lot harder to rank Wix site than sites built in other platforms like WordPress.

Wix gives you the tools to do basic SEO – items that should be done on any website.

But the basics won’t let you rank in even a semi-competitive niche.

So is Wix providing a disservice to the industry – or giving it a boost just be mentioning SEO to millions of people?

SEO Needs Legitimacy, Not Recognition

While SEO is still widely misunderstood by the vast majority of the public, the industry does have a seat at the marketing table.

SEO is no longer optional for most businesses.

The need to show up in the search engines for queries around specific keywords and topics not an afterthought for most businesses.

That’s not to say that the work to educate businesses on the benefits and limitations of SEO is done.

Far from it.

But in general, most businesses know they need quality SEO, even if they aren’t sure what that means or how to obtain it.

The Mass Production of Unrealistic Expectations Hurts Us All

My main job is sales.

I speak with prospects every day who have been burned by shady SEO firms or firms that set expectations way beyond reality.

I pay for the sins of others on a daily basis.

Almost every week I speak with a prospect that says something to the effect of “Our last SEO firm didn’t do a good job, so we are wary of working with another SEO firm.”

Thankfully, despite the subpar service and overblown expectations these folks have endured, they still realize that SEO is important enough to keep pursuing success.

But the bad players in the industry make these prospects skittish.

They are so worried about getting ripped off again that they micromanage, and spend way too much time trying to understand the things that they pay us to understand.

But the SEO industry has come a long way, despite the snake-oil salesmen and charlatans that have plagued us for years.

I tend to think that the SEO industry has succeeded in spite of itself.

We can’t agree on a code of ethics or even best practices in most cases.

We spend a ton of time educating our SEO colleagues, but not a lot of time educating businesses on how to understand what SEO can do for them in a realistic manner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this industry and most of the people in it.

But I think if most of us take a hard look at what we’ve done over the years, we’ll realize that SEO has a place at the table because it works, not because we’ve done a great job communicating its value.

Wix advertising a subpar SEO product to millions of people sets us back.

Even if they spelled SEO right.

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Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, February 2019

Category SEO

I am a 19-year veteran of the digital marketing world with previous experience in journalism, public relations and advertising. I’ve ...

The Super Bowl of Unrealistic SEO Expectations

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