How an SEO “Expert” Cost a Three Campus School $1,375,000

A year or so ago I was contacted by Chris, the new CMO of a three-campus school system. He was baffled as to why his lead flow had dropped by 60 leads per month for the past three or four months. Being new to his school, he didn’t really have a handle on the problem yet and wanted help with some insights.

I asked him to Google the name of his school and see what happens. My worst fears were confirmed. He didn’t show up at all. Turns out their website had been “delisted” by Google. Nuked, obliterated, vanished from the search engine.

When we ran the math, a loss of 60 leads per month represented 5 lost enrollments every month. Given the average tuition was $25,000, they had lost $125,000 a month for the past three months… $375,000.

Tic toc and, essentially, their website didn’t exist.

What had happened was this school had hired an “SEO Expert”, the kind that gets off on trying to game the Google algorithmic system. In this case, the expert’s efforts at “link farming” went horribly wrong. (In SEO parlance, creating lots of most irrelevant links to your site is known as a black hat tactic). Google viewed them as a spam site and removed them from the Google index.

When confronted, the so-called “expert” skulked away under some lame premise, leaving our poor friend with a $1.375 million dollar problem to solve.

Yes, that’s right, $1.375 million dollars in lost revenue due to the cavalier actions of a sweet talking SEO expert.

You see, Google controls around 75% of all search engine traffic. If you annoy them, try to game their rules, or manipulate the system, you lose. It took our CMO friend Chris an additional 8 months to recover from the mess, get his website working properly and then reapply (i.e. grovel) to Google to list them again.

Sadly this little story is not uncommon.

If done properly, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a slow, conservative process that takes months to get a result. It has to be done conservatively so as not to have Google (or Yahoo for that matter) remove you from their search results. While SEO is an important marketing activity, the ever-changing rules of Google make it almost impossible to control. And in business you always want to control your outcomes. That’s why SEO is never a corner-stone strategy. It is a piece of larger overall strategy.

Paid search marketing via Google Adwords, on the other hand, does give you control over your business outcomes. You know if you invest x dollars, you can get a predictable return on your investment, assuming you have someone capable running the system. Predictable is good, “hope and pray” is not good.

At Enrollment Resources we can help, right now. There are a couple of immediate steps we can take together:

First, after you read this letter, go to Google and type in the name of your school. It should be at the top of page one. If it is not, then call us and we will help you isolate any possible issues you might be having with Google.

Second, email or call us and arrange for a complimentary SEO review of your website. This is a freebie, rewarding you for displaying leadership for your organization.