Easy answer: YES you need SEO.
Many of us have questioned whether we really need to “SEO our websites“. The simple and undisputed answer is YES! Till today, I cannot find a legitimate reason why a site should not be optimized for search engines.
As long as you run a legitimate website in hopes of getting leads, selling products or services, gaining exposure for a cause, having an online presence, sharing information or even just ranting about life on a blog, you WILL benefit from increased traffic from search engines. Sweee lah hire the Seo Good Guys now?
But that is just the EASY answer.
What do I mean?
Search Engine Optimization as you should know by now, consists of on page optimization and off page optimization.
On page optimization is basically making sure that Search Engines can read the content on your site properly, and display the information to searchers in the most relevant way possible. Almost ALL sites should make sure that their sites can be crawled by search engine spiders.
There is absolutely no reason why a website should not provide the viewer with a good surfing experience. And that is why anyone can easily say that all sites need SEO – to make sure that the basic site is user friendly and search engine friendly. Haven’t we come to the age where we expect search engines to deliver all the answers we need? Your site has to be able to live up to that expectation too.
Hard answer: Mmmmyeaahh you probably need SEO.
The hard answer comes when you involve off page optimization.
Off page optimization is mainly link building and other efforts to market your website to external sites on the internet. Most services that SEO consultants offer involve off page optimization. Various studies done by leaders in the search industry point to the relationship between off page ranking factors and search engine rankings. (Examples: SEOmoz’s 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors and SearchEngineLand’s Guide to SEO)
Since off page SEO activities make a more significant difference to search engine ranking, most people automatically assume that “SEO = off page.” Sure, link building and outreach efforts can help you get more traffic, and improve your search engine rankings.
BUT. Not every type of website needs to heavily invest in off page link building activites.
This makes the answer to “Do I need SEO” less clear cut.
The better question is: Do I need to hire an external SEO agency?
In my humble opinion, this is the better question; and this is the question that most startups would likely want to ask. There are certain scenarios where no, you might not need to hire someone else to do SEO for you.
#1 You do not have a website.
Stupidly obvious. Let’s move on.
#2 Free labour
I’m not referring to the code name for naive university interns. I’m talking about your partners or employees who actually have time on their hands to do some SEO related activities. If you have some free time, why not invest some of that time to learn more about the basics of search engine optimization?
There are plenty of things you can do yourself. Do a little keyword research to make sure your content matches to what people are searching for. Do some outreach and relationship building with bloggers in your industry. Write quality content so that people want to share and link back to you!
#3 You already have an in-house marketing team
Sometimes it’s better to rely on your in-house marketing team. They know the direction the business is heading. They know the kind of branding your company is trying to achieve. They are SUPPOSED to evolve to include digital marketing in their marketing strategies.
[Reasons for investing in digital marketing: Digital Advertising Spend in Singapore exceeds S$100m mark (seems like they removed the source)]
If you already have a marketing team, allow them to create the content and do outreach. Well, unfortunately not all in-house marketing teams are educated in digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization.
#4 You know you don’t need outside traffic
There are just some kinds of sites that do not require search engine traffic or any outside traffic at all! The purpose of the site might not even be for business.
Some private websites do not want to be found on Search Engines. It could be a private blog, or a private online shop for distinguished guests only. It could be a school’s website, or a company site where only people with special access can enter.
#5 You are operating an extremely abstract and niche business
Do you have a business selling “Life Sized Solid Chocolate Baby Heads”? or Are you thinking of selling “Five-Pound Fat Replicas”?
I can almost guarantee you that there is so little search volume for them (meaning no one searches for such terms), that it makes no sense to invest heavily in an SEO campaign. You are better off selling on third party sites or through social media. It doesn’t mean if you sell handmade crafts, SEO is totally not an option. You just have to understand your market, and what people might be searching for.
So who needs to hire an external SEO consultant?
Of course I cannot just end the article without addressing this. I am NOT trying to be self promotional here. In the following situations, you just might need to hire an external SEO consultant.
- Your in-house marketing team has been under-performing, or they do not practice digital marketing. They know very little about SEO, or they have not enough time to do SEO related activities.
- You have not been getting traffic from organic search, despite being in an industry where there is a lot of search volume
- You are in an industry where Pay Per Click costs are extremely high – like Insurance, Loans, Mortgage industries (Source: Wordstream)
- You are just starting out in a highly competitive market dominated by big names, and you do not have the big budget for marketing
- Your traffic had suddenly plummeted and you are not ranking for your important keywords (possible Google penalty)
- You have no idea why no one visits your awesome site
I assure you, the list can go on. Now I am not promising that SEO can be sole reason for your site’s success. You still need factors like an excellent web design, useful content, and good products. It just does not hurt that when people are searching for something that your website provides, your site is ranked high enough on the search engines to fulfill that need.
I personally want to believe that when you create good content, sell wonderful products or provide an excellent service, people will come. It just doesn’t always work so ideally, and so I provide SEO services for people who might need my help getting found.
Do you think content is enough, and that SEO is not needed? Sound off in the comments below!