Before I start, I want to clear up one thing. This post is not an attack on SEO (heck SEO is my middle name). This post is not meant to discourage SEO. This post is a “reality check” for small business owners from business perspective.
SEO is no longer just adding keywords in the title tag and getting links from cheap directories. Yes we all know that but many business owners don’t. Today SEO is:
- Micro data and schema
- Twitter Cards
- Open Graph protocol
- Social Media (Facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube)
- Content development and marketing
- Local Search
- Co-Citations and co-occurrence
- Microsoft Excel
- SEO Tools
- Analytics (from data collection to interpretation and reporting)
- Data Scraping
- Fixing/avoiding Google penalties.
- Reading blog posts 24/7 to keep up to date with the ever changing Search Engine Landscape.
- And the list is virtually endless to be honest
Best of luck if you, as entrepreneur, can do all of this and can still find time to run your business. SEO has become more complex than ever. Therefore it is no longer a question of whether or not you can do it yourself. You need outside help. Period.
The question that you should be asking is whether you can really “afford” SEO with a small budget. The answer is “No”. A lot of businesses don’t really understand the value of getting rankings esp. in the competitive market. They dream of outranking websites which have been spending tens of thousands of pounds in content development and marketing for years.
You need to understand that it takes real money to displace real money. So if a business has been spending say £70k a year on SEO for the last 3 years, then it has already spent £210K in content development and marketing. And if your idea of replacing this £210k worth of rankings is a £10k yearly budget then you need to wake up.
As a small business owner your first priority is to “survive” in your trade. Make enough money to pay your bills and keep trading next month. That means you need a strong hold on your cash flow. You need to focus on immediate gains and aim to get immediate return on your investment. You need to make sure that you squeeze out every possible conversions from each website visitor/visit.
This is possible only when you focus on optimizing your website for conversions and keep a close eye on every dollar spent. SEO can’t do that for you, not at your start up stage. SEO is a long term commitment. You may need to wait for several months or even a whole year before you can see considerable positive ROI.
Consider running PPC campaigns instead. You will either win fast or fail fast. In either case you will know where you stand in your market and what you need to do to improve your business bottomline.
If you can make money from PPC, you sure can make money from SEO in the long run. Consider PPC as a litmus test. You need to pass this test in order to be qualified for running SEO. If you fail then you need to test your landing pages, your offers and may be even your products. Once you have built a solid revenue stream then consider SEO to reduce your cost per acquisition and increase profit.
Now it is your turn. Do you think SEO can be done cheaply and small business owners are better off building their business through SEO? Please share your thoughts.