I can’t count the number of “Is SEO dead?” articles I’ve read over the years. Every January brings it’s usual predictions for the year ahead. And each Google update spawns a deluge of them.
Some say “Yes” (social media gurus are rather prone to this) others “No” (unsurprisingly SEO agencies tend to take this line). Quite a lot say “Maybe”.
What they all have in common is that they tend to be written by industry insiders with a position to maintain – a bit like politicians.
So what’s a small business owner to believe?
I came across an interesting stat the other day. The percentage of ecommerce sales on Black Friday 2013 directly attributable to social media:
A measly 1%. And I see the same thing reflected in the Analytics of my ecommerce clients. It’s a sobering statistic. (You can read more about the survey on Mashable.)
Of course, it’s hard to measure the indirect effect.
When it comes to sales, Social Media can play a key role in moving buyers along the decision to purchase.
Many brands – especially small businesses – have been very successful in using social media to build awareness and create a loyal following of enthusiastic (and profitable) fans. But we all know that social media is hard work. While spending hours building your fanbase is a worthwhile investment when you are starting up, as your business grows it becomes harder and harder to scale up.
If you want to receive a steady stream of relevant enquiries for your product or service, then, for the majority, the most cost effective and sustainable way of achieving this long term is to rank well on Google. Then the people searching for what you offer will find you.
These days, however, ranking well on Google is about much more than including a few keywords on your web pages and getting some friends to link to your site.
I believe that the terms “Search Optimisation” and “SEO” will be used less and less as the methods change – but the goal of ranking well in search remains.
It takes time, effort and it’s no longer something you can simply outsource and forget (and you won’t be able to forget about social media either). But if you want to build a solid, profitable business, then start now.