Behind SEO success, a 'knuckle down' approach

“About every web company says they do search engine optimization,” says Allison Kulage, who is often the person these companies call when they need a subcontractor. As the founder of Bare Knuckle Marketing, she works with businesses directly, helping them identify and meet marketing goals with SEO.

Kulage, who has a marketing communications background, looked for marketing jobs after graduating from college, but found that many of them were little more than commission-based sales positions. After leaping from one job to the next, she discovered a talent for search engine optimization, or SEO – a practice of organizing web content to be friendly to search tools like Google.

After more than a decade working with SEO, Kulage grew tired of watching web marketing companies charge clients for search engine optimization that amounted to little more than adding tags to a WordPress site, to keywords to a meta header (part of a website that tells search engines what it’s about) or – at worst – nothing at all.

With SEO, Kulage says, there are no immediate or automatic fixes. “One day, I just said to myself, ‘You gotta knuckle up and work hard at this stuff! The gloves are off. It's competitive and the only way to win is do honest, hard work by creating good content that users want.’ "

With the help of Bad Girl Ventures, where she took classes in business management, a SCORE mentor and practical training from the American Small Business Centers, she was able to quit her full-time job to launch Bare Knuckle Marketing in just two months.

These days, Kulage advises companies to diversify their online traffic sources, so that if and when Google changes its algorithm, they’re still getting website hits from other sources, such as other search engines, social media sites, blogs and more.

“People focus too much on how they rank in search engines," she says. "For years, Google has personalized search results, which means you and I can search for the same thing, but get different results based on our search history. You may be number one [in a Google search], but you may only be number one on your own machine. There’s too much focus on rankings, and not enough focus on real metrics -- not just traffic, but traffic that’s converting.”

By Robin Donovan
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