While you can be successful doing business online without SEO--or even a website for that matter--there will always be limits to what you can achieve. SEO is nothing more than the act of marketing your website so searchers can find you. Today's SEO encompass many other aspects of digital marketing. How you go about online marketing depends on your budget and what areas you specifically want to focus on.
Holistic digital marketing can be quite expensive, but there are a lot of things you can do to start pushing yourself forward without a huge budget.
Hello! My name is Humberto Valle, I'm the founder and CEO of Unthink Digital Marketing (www.Unthink.me) we help business owners grow their digital presence and generate more leads with inbound marketing.
This is actually a good question, I would estimate that a little over 60% small business owners never consider or have heard of SEO as part of a marketing campaign. Search Engine Optimization comes from consistency throughout all your digital efforts.
Here is what a lot of business owners get wrong:
There is white hat and black hat SEO Practices:
1. Black hat is primarily known as click farming, fake/thin profile pages that only stuff keywords and your URL in as many places as possible. Typically because of the amount of fake accounts and links created; the services are outsourced to India (due to cost)... There are assumptions that Google punishes websites for having bad links by removing you from their index and no longer showing up on search results - this isn't quite true (but they do 'punish' websites in various ways) when Google indexes these fake links it eliminates their index and reduces your SEO efficacy.
2. White hat is obviously the best practice and is the only long-living (evergreen) approach to SEO.
What people get wrong is that SEO is not a tool, isolated marketing effort for online businesses. SEO is the overall outcome of dozens of Digital Best Practices for customer engagement and branding purposes.
When you have a customer persona identified, their buyer journey evaluated and a clear understanding of their buying decisions, their problems and how and when your product fits into their journey you can begin to hyper target them which leads you do things like having very specific and relatable keywords, long tails, calls to actions, blog posts, videos, tutorials, correctly formatted URLS, tags, descriptions, offers and the right social media channels to distribute your branded content and value to the right targeted audience.
The longer a visitor "browses" through your site increases SEO, the lower your bounce rate is the better, the more pages a visitor goes through while visiting increases SEO...
As you might imagine, SEO is the result of those factors and others like a well coded website, social media engagement (Yup, Google is now beginning to measure your social media profiles as part of a good branding and relevant business effort), whether or not your website is mobile friendly, site indexing.
Here's an example: I'm currently working on a new client, www.BluePearlTax.com - the owner's cousin built the website for her and she has been depending on in person networking since she started a year ago. She hired Unthink 3 weeks ago. When we started by fixing some of her wording on the pages, adding more content on the home page and adding some meta tags. We haven't fixed aesthetics yet though. I created a simple blog for her so her website has a blog that attracts certain clients and because they are spending time reading they are spending more time in the website. I am also sharing her content through the right social media at the right times multiple times a day with different headers (to attract various readers and give more opportunity to each piece of content). Her targeted content is attracting more readers through her Linkedin, FB, Twitter shared links, and through her website because it now contains more keywords and long tails in both her page and her content and meta information through her site which is helping the site being found more. Her website went from an average 200 visitors per month to this past month we clocked in almost 3k visitors - there might be some redundancy in visitors (not unique) but since we doubt some people are visiting the site a few hundred times, even with redundancies 2-3k visits in just 3 week difference has helped her generate 7 new business clients which have hired them as their assigned business bookkeeper not counting the ones she has gotten for the Tax season only.
The content we are creating for her is for the awareness, consideration and decision phases of each possible client - as they search for certain info they are now beginning to find her service while others asking for more specific information (consideration) will also find her information presenting her as an industry area expert and thus improve her brand as well her lead generation because she will have a stronger SEO month over month. She is only paying $200 per month which is why we are focusing on optimizing her current site content and creating new optimized content and waiting on fixing the aesthetics and funnel lead generation of the website, once we consistently generate the same average of traffic we will then shift to lead generation which will have us fixing her website, calls to action, page flow, etc.
As you can see SEO is the outcome of an overall best practice in digital branding, customer engagement, content and value creation, innovation, consistency and positioning as it should be intended even if there are many out there who try to cheat the system and offer SEO as a cheap product you can just pay someone to give you.
I hope this gives you some good insight as to how SEO should really play a role in your overall marketing efforts. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact me.
So this is my POV based on my experience. You don't NEED TO have a website for marketing. But the question that you should ask yourself is, how does your clients currently come from?
Let's say you are a doctor/lawyer. Most of this professionals get clients from referrals (previous clients) and people reach out to them when they need them.
If you had an accident and need a doctor, you probably won't go into Google and search for a doctor. You would go directly to the hospital to get treated.
So, if your product/service is not like that, then you should consider having a website if:
- Your selling process is complex (B2B or high value B2C sales like real estate or automotive, which could take from a month to a year or more).
- Your product/service requires a lot of education in order for prospects to buy. Your website must transform into the go-to place to find answers about the problem you're solving.
- There's a lot of competition; you need to differentiate and establish yourself in the market and the best way to do it is by producing content (blogs, articles, research) that should be published on your website. Having valuable information on your website will make people build trust with you, and could look out to you as a thought leader, if you are the one who provides answers.
Look at your website as an online salesperson 24/7. Should have al the information related to your product but more important, should educate visitors. If its a very good piece of content, you could get better rankings on Google, and could benefit from having higher rankings to get organic traffic (SEO).
SEO is the highest ROI channels, because eventually you won't be paying for that traffic, and when people come to your site by organic traffic, most likely they searched for your brand or something related to you; meaning, they have a need, so they have a high probability of conversion into a sale.
Hope this helps!