Is There Still Value In SEO For Small Business?

Is There Still Value In SEO For Small Business?

Recently, I’ve seen several online discussions and comments that left me wondering if perhaps I had slowly slipped into a parallel universe.

The two recent comments that left me dazed and confused were:

  • I don’t see any value in SEO
  • Why would a small business owner care about registering with (Google+) a failed social network?

Today, I’d like to address bullet point one. The second bullet point deserves an article of it’s own.

SEO, like innocence, has died a million times. On a daily basis you can find new articles and commentary declaring that SEO is dead, near dead or dying. Other technologies and services are often declared dead as well, so SEO is not alone in this, but SEO has been declared dead on a regular basis for at least a decade.

Our commenter though, questioned the value of SEO. So let’s discuss that aspect.

What is SEO in 2015?

First, let’s create a working definition of SEO. For many, the definition of SEO is unclear. In the ever shifting landscape of search marketing there is a certain fluidity. I would define SEO as:

Non-paid online strategies and tactics that produce increased visibility across multiple points of presence.

The Process of SEO

What you read here may not match up to what you have heard from other sources. I have been developing online marketing strategies and SEO planning for companies for over a decade. My views on SEO have often been in sharp disagreement with many of the search ‘experts’. For instance, I’ve never believed in the value of artificial link building and argued against those that sell link building services, site submission services, commenting and other spam techniques.

We believe in a research and analysis driven SEO process. While some companies might ask you what you think your keywords should be (run if that happens), we depend on keyword research to uncover how people actually search for products and services.

How you want to talk about a business is far less important than how people search for the products and services the company provides. Choosing the keywords that are the most highly searched AND most applicable to a businesses marketing objectives is the key to successful online marketing.

This research process is made up of three vital components:

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Identification of Competition
  3. Analysis of Competition

Here are just a few examples of the value of keyword research:

Keyword Monthly Search Counts

T shirts 1,830,000

Tshirts 201,000


air conditioning 110,000

airconditioning 18,100


attorney 135,000

attorneys 40,500


caterer 301,000

catering 74,000


car sales 550,000

auto sales 27,100

Understanding how people actually search for products and services allows you to optimize for the correct terms. Note how small variations in keyword terms can make huge differences in search count. Each search is an opportunity for visibility. Search engines do not see these terms as being the same thing, otherwise they would not report different search totals.

Once the most highly searched and applicable keywords have been identified, the next task is to understand who currently holds the top position on Google for the targeted term. Since Google provides 80% of US search, 90% of global search and 86% of all mobile search, it should be the primary focus on any serious online marketing effort.

Once the top competitive sites are identified, each one is broken down and viewed as the search engines see it. This analysis allows us to identify how a site achieved top rank and the gaps that may exist in the optimization. Now that we have these three pieces of information, we have the elements needed to craft a successful online optimization plan.

How Do You Get Value From SEO

Keyword research provides insight into consumer behavior. When you provide content that is reflective of consumer search behavior, your content is likely to produce greater levels of engagement.

The information uncovered in the keyword research should be used to improve the relevance of the following aspects of your website:

  • content
  • navigation
  • domain name
  • tagging

Improved visibility through increased relevance – in the final analysis, all SEO efforts are about improving visibility. Many of our clients start with absolutely no online visibility for their most important keywords, giving them 0% opportunity to convert non-branded traffic to sales.

Many companies have websites that are like a beautiful billboard on a closed road. They look nice but no one ever sees them. The impact on the business? None.

SEO allows companies to gain value from their website investment, so that it has a positive impact on their business. Having a website move from invisible to visible carries tremendous value.

The Impact of SEO

There are three foundational elements that every business should be concerned about:

  1. How does my business show up for branded terms when people search specifically for it?
  2. How does my business show up when people search for the products and services we provide in the geo-markets we serve?
  3. How does my company appear in the mobile and local results?

SEO greatly impacts all three of these foundational areas.

Is there value in keyword research? Is there value in understanding your online competition and how they achieved top rank? Is there value in visibility? Is there value in moving a business website from invisible to visible?

Is SEO alive? Yup, still breathing.

Is it valuable? Yes and growing in value every day.