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 Blogger.com
Or tweet on Twitter.
Or build a Google Places page.
Are 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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