Sometimes we get to doing something for so long and are so involved in telling people how to do something, that we forget that there are still people who need to be convinced they actually need to do it.

In the last few years social media has jumped to the forefront of online marketing for many small businesses. Some business owners aren't even bothering to market (or in some cases even build) their websites anymore.

They can just create a Facebook page.

Or a blog on

Or tweet on Twitter.

Or build a Google Places page.

Gnome-Thinking-150x150.jpgAre we entering an age where SEO just doesn't matter?

You can now get a local ranking on Google just by having a places page. No website needed!

When all these other avenues are available, many without all the added marketing "expense," is SEO still viable?

The short answer is yes, SEO still matters.

SEO Still Matters

That was important so I made sure to say it twice!

There are many reasons why SEO should still be on the forefront of your online marketing efforts. I'll make the case below, but before I do, I want to stress that I'm not trying to take anything away from Facebook, Google Places, Twitter or other social media efforts. I'm sure someone *cough@martijencough* could write a post titled "Making the Case for Social Media in an SEO World!"

But since social media is the new big "it", I think it's important to revisit the case for SEO, as a solid reminder as to why it still matters.

You have Ownership of Your SEO

If you own your own domain name, your website belongs to you. It's yours.

The same can't be said about your Facebook, Places or Twitter profiles. Whatever marketing you do on these other profiles may be building your business today, but what if any of them go out of style? (Anyone remember MySpace?)

The marketing you do TO your social media profiles is temporary at best. At any time you can be removed, be kicked off, lose your profile or see the site disappear. If your web host doesn't like you, you get to take your site (you do have a backup, right?) and find another hosting company. You get to keep it, and no one can tell you otherwise.

That means the SEO you do for your site is also yours. All that work, effort and money invested is yours to keep as long as you keep your site hosted.

SEO Gets You Noticed by Your Customers

Social media is great for getting the word out and building your brand, educating your audience and even providing information about your services. All good. But SEO puts you in front of your buyers. Top rankings put you in front of people that are interested in what you have to offer but don't already know about you.

One of the goals of SEO can be to get people to engage with you on your social networks. This helps build long-term relationships. But SEO gets you in front of people who don't already know where to get what you offer. That's why they go to search engines.

Top rankings put you front and center for searchers who have an active interest in what you do. These are potential customers, not just information seekers. This is your money audience!

SEO Has a Mighty Long Reach

Your reach with SEO can be far greater than your reach in your social networks. Sure you can build a lot of followers and friends and they can repost or retweet your content to get an even wider audience... provided they are looking at the time your tweet or post goes out.

You may have 10,000 friends and followers, but are they all looking at you moment you need them to be? If not, your message is lost.

SEO puts you in front of your audience when they search. Even PPC can fail here as ads roll in and out depending on your available budget. But with SEO, once you get those top rankings, your link is there for all the world to see.

Not only that, but the more keywords you optimize, the bigger your reach can be. Optimizing your site for well-searched keyword phrases puts you in front of a larger audience. Optimizing even low-volume phrases in large quantities can boost your reach even more while increasing your ROI. (More on that below.)

SEO is Relevant Now

Driving someone to your social media page gives them only limited amounts of information. It's kind of a one-size-fits-all approach. Driving visitors to your site, through SEO, gives them all the information they need to make a purchase decision.

One of the beautiful things about SEO is that you can also drive each searcher to the most relevant page on your site, based on the query. That's what optimizing is all about. Each page is optimized for a set of keywords that are most relevant the searcher. This is custom-fitting at it's best!

SEO Focuses on the Conversion Experience

When a properly strategized SEO campaign is implemented, your website should see a boost in user experience. Your SEO should be looking further than optimizing keywords onto a page. They should be analyzing your site architecture, calls to action, internal links and conversion processes.

When your SEO focuses on the conversion experience, your site becomes much more about getting your visitors the information they need while making them confident in their purchase decision. The better user experience, the more loyal customer you create. Driving traffic to a site without considering usability can be akin to pouring water into a leaky bucket.

Your Competition is Performing SEO

Your competition is ranking for the keywords that would otherwise be driving business to your site. If you're not competing for those keywords, search engine traffic is being diverted to them. That sound you hear is your profits going to your competition!

If your competition is investing in SEO, shouldn't you be? If they are working hard at earning top search engine rankings, don't you want to be right there next to (or above) them? And if your competition isn't there today, they may be there tomorrow. Don't let them get the competitive advantage on you.

SEO Delivers the ROI

The return on investment in SEO has been proven time and time again. It's different for every industry and website, but in the long term, because SEO is long-lasting, the ROI validates itself. Compared to other forms of advertising, SEO can be a bargain.

The ROI on social media has yet to be fully proven. Its great for building an audience and driving brand awareness. It's even better in conjunction with your optimization campaign, to create links and build off the SEO. As a standalone service, however, the benefit of social media is extremely limited. It's only one piece of the marketing pie.

SEO has Extreme Longevity

SEO is (almost) forever. A page properly optimized today is a page properly optimized after the next four Google updates. On-page optimization is good for a very long time. Once you have that then you just need to continue to build your site and keep your audience interested. This is where social media, link building and content strategy really helps; they help maintain your position once your site is optimized.

This is why so many are flocking to social media. They think this is the way to get in front of your audience. And it is, but it's only part of a smart marketing strategy. Getting your site optimized internally, and using social media and link building externally, gives you a long-lasting optimization campaign that withstands the tests of time.

Focusing on SEO, even as social media is the new, shiny thing on the block, still makes a lot of sense. If you bring in the right people to do the job, your optimization campaign should be one of the primary drivers of traffic, conversions and new customers.

Of course, you already knew all this. But it's nice to have the reminder.

Follow at @StoneyD, and @PolePositionMkg.

July 29, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


That is so true. I have come across many business owners who simply say that a website is not necessary as they work of FB.. It works for some. Alem

Social media and SEO actually work really well together, so site/business owners shouldn't favor one over the other. SEO relies heavily on links and content sharing. Social networking sites are the perfect place to build links and promote you content! Some 25% of Tweets have a link in them. That's incredible SEO potential for your site!

Couldn't agree more, SEO really matters, but it also needs a tight rein to ensure over the long term that it does return its investment. It's also pretty clear why a lot of site owners are apprehensive when it comes to social media, especially with the new 'Google+' kid on the block moving the goalposts once again.

I agree with all of these great reasons why SEO still matters. Social media may offer a huge advantage when it comes to internet marketing but it shouldn't push your other SEO efforts into the background. With the way social media has taken off it would be silly not to get some kind of benefit from it but like you said it might not always be as permanent or prominent as people believe. If all it took to make a website number one was social media then everyone would have a number one site and social media would eventually be ignored by search engines all together.......which is why SEO definitely still matters.

A Post updated on Facebook has a life of only 3 hours but a domain properly optimised has unlimited life.
So it is always advisable to lay more stress on SEO rather than on Social Media Marketing

Facebook and Twitter is not enough. SEO is so essential and social networking sites are important but will usually not work alone.

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