While it may sound like one, this is not a rhetorical question. SEO is a visibility strategy much the same as billboard advertising or door-to-door flyers or any number of other methods of letting the general public know you exist and what you offer.
Search engine optimisation is the process of getting search engines to rank a website strongly so that it appears in search results when people search for keyword terms related to whatever the business in question is.
For example, if you are a carpenter in Hull making bespoke furniture, you might want to rank for the term “bespoke furniture” or “carpenter in Hull”.
But does every business need SEO? At Smart & Slick, we are not in the business of selling anybody a product or service that we do not genuinely believe will benefit their business. And the answer to this question is no. SEO is not for everybody because it will not benefit everybody.
Our carpenter in Hull. We’ll call him Hal. Now, Hal from Hull might be selling all types of furniture: bed frames, drawers, wardrobes, dining tables – literally anything they have at Ikea.
Now, if I want bespoke furniture, there is no brand name or organisation that instantly comes to mind. Ikea is not bespoke. Sliderobes might come to mind if I wanted wardrobes, but apart from that, I’ve got nothing. That is why I am likely to go to Google and search for “bespoke cabinet”.
Now, if Hal from Hull has a search engine optimised website, he might come up in the Google results for that search term and I might find him that way. And if his website is good and his marketing says all the right things and Hal can convince me that he can give me what I want, I might place an order.
Hal from Hull would clearly benefit from an SEO campaign because his business stands to benefit considerably if his website ranks for all of these terms relating to bespoke furniture: “cabinet”, “bed frame”, “wardrobe” and on and on and on.
But now let’s look at a different type of business.
Across the country in London, there’s Larry in London. Larry is a comedian. Now, Larry’s core business model is to sell tickets to public shows in theatres and comedy clubs. But it is highly unlikely that his customers are going to go online and search “comedy show” in order to find him. They’re far more likely to have been initially introduced to Larry by a method other than a Google search.
As such, Larry is probably not going to benefit much from an SEO campaign, except maybe for ranking #1 for his own name. But that’s likely to happen organically and is so easy that we don’t even really consider it to be SEO.
So while Hal from Hull would be well advised to invest his marketing budget into an SEO campaign, Larry from London would be much better off spending his marketing budget on YouTube marketing, social media and general brand building activities.