For a number of years I’ve been following competitors, watching their campaigns, their adverts and their sites and many of them seem to recite the same rhetoric like a broken record that if you don’t optimize your website then it will not been be seen or its like producing an advert and not buying airtime. Actually its not like that at all. Additionally, not using unique content would actually be detrimental to your campaign so the fact that they are merely repeating what someone else has said before should have alarm bells ringing.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t optimize your website. What I’m trying to suggest is that too many (particularly small and new) businesses appear to give too much weighting to SEO, often overlooking alternative forms of marketing.

Your customers are not always looking for you
Several years ago I remember a local thai takeaway and delivery service had mailed me personally with a copy of their menu. This was one of the most effective forms of advertising I remember as I placed an order with them not long afterwards. Had they simply tried to optimize their website for “Thai food in Bethnal Green”, they would have been limiting their scope of potential customers to those who were looking to eat Thai food on a given night. As it stands, as keen as I am on Thai food, I personally have not craved it to the point where I am local for a local delivery. Therefore this passive form of advertising should not always be seen as the most effective.

No medium you use to promote your business should account for more than 20% of revenue. I once worked for a large digital agency who constantly reminded us that no client should account for more than 20% of revenue. Needless to say one of their clients did account for a lot more than 20% and so when subsequently did lose that client, they took a significant hit resulting in many job losses. Similarly no form of advertising should  account for more than 20% of an organisations business. Placing all your eggs in one basket is risky enough as it is but in the digital world, relying on a third party can render you even more susceptible to insolvency.

SEO is not necessarily the most appropriate form of advertising for your business. In the post yellow pages day, SEO is indispensable for small local businesses such as tradesman who remain the first port of call for clients who require their services often at very short notice – generally what would most people do these days when they have a dripping tap – google a local plumber.

The larger the business gets, the less reliant it becomes or should become on SEO. Sure e-commerce businesses or other web based businesses such as SAAS companies should be heavily reliant on search engines to generate new business but that is not to say that this is the most effective medium to promote themselves. Social media continues to grow in popularity and despite its decline in recent years, affiliate marketing remains a popular form of advertising for many online businesses.

If you take multinational corporations, say McDonalds, SEO becomes quite meaningless. Or does it? While such a company would reap little benefit in optimizing their own site, such an organisation would be making use of SEO for PR purposes as it actively tries to promote sites or articles showing it in a positive light.