Ignore Robert Scoble, SEO Still Matters For SMBs


Robert ScobleIt’s the end of the year which means, prepare yourself, we’re about to see lots of bold claims and posts written as pure linkbait attention attempts. It’s the Internet. It’s adorable. However, bad information left uncorrected is simply dangerous.

Robert Scoble must be bored because he’s back causing trouble heralding that 2010 may be the year that SEO isn’t important anymore for small business owners. Sigh. Really? We’re doing this?
Fine. Let’s go there.

Robert uses social media and Google’s new ‘advancements’ with real-time search to make the case that SEO isn’t important anymore. ‘Traditional SEO firms’ are dying, he says. Of course, he doesn’t really mean that SEO, itself, is dead or unimportant. He means that SEO is now more than just tweaking and touching your own Web site. He means that SEO has evolved and grown to incorporate a lot of different aspects of marketing and a whole new slew of tools (like Twitter and Facebook). According to Robert, SEO isn’t important and SEM should be renamed OM for Online Marketing to represent the ‘holistic approach’ that small business owners need to take. I guess the term ‘Internet marketing’ we’ve all been using for a gazillion years wasn’t encompassing enough.

A couple of things:

  • Robert Scoble is smarter than he’s pretending. I hope.
  • Ignoring SEO is a really good way to kill your Web site, evolved world or not. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Had I not spent all last night working on finishing my SEO Trends for 2010 post for SmallBizTrends (Hi Anita. I know I’m late. It’s coming!), I probably would have just rolled my eyes at Robert’s ridiculousness and moved on. Actually, had I not spent the past year BEING a small business owner and writing about small businesses, I probably would have ignored the post. But that is how I’ve spent my year – fighting to calm SMB owners’ fears about SEO and stressing how important it is to get their sites up to speed. Hell, if Robert Scoble is going to attempt to undo that.

The reason that Robert’s post forced me to take the bait is because of how dangerous it is for him to make that claim. Many small business owners are leery to get involved with search engine optimization to begin with, having been scammed for years. Telling them that SEO is now irrelevant in the new world of social media and real time search is basically handing them the lighter fluid to torch their own sites. It also attempts to put their fate completely into sites that they do not own, nor control. Smart.

Hey Robert, are you going to pay their mortgage when their businesses go under from lack of visibility or from a change in TOS they didn’t seem coming?  If not, don’t help. Stick to videos.

Why Robert Scoble is Wrong about SEO

As a small business owner, search engine optimization will remain important to your site until the days that people stop searching. And if Google has anything to say about it (and I think they own the world at this point, so, they get a say), the importance of search and optimizing that search will always take center stage.

Yeah, SEO now means incorporating a lot of marketing aspects. It’s about building a brand. It’s about building a community. It’s about showing up in blogs and articles and video (all stuff that can be, what’s the word, “optimized”, BTW). But that doesn’t cancel the rest of it out.

For a small business owner, search engine optimization means keeping up with the new stuff, but it’s also a lot of the basics.

That’s all basic SEO for a small business and all stuff that SMB owners need to be paying attention to if they care about their sites. To say that SEO isn’t important is irresponsible and it’s not fair to SMB owners who have been busting their butts to get their sites in order. In my upcoming Trends for 2010 post, I’ll outline some of the major opportunities for small business owners for the coming year. Areas where I think they need to be dedicating time and attention.  And part of that post mentions just how ABSOLUTELY important it is for SMB owners to pay attention to the basics. The “simple” SEO stuff that people who live and breathe the Internet like Robert Scoble take for granted.

Robert should know better. It’s just misguided for him to say that SEO isn’t important for a small business owner and to advise them not to worry about it. It’s irresponsible because, at least in some circles, Robert Scoble still has some street cred. People might actually believe him. And frankly, that’s scary. On a lot of levels.

SEO matters for anyone who wants to be found in search, especially for a local business who’s already facing an uphill battle against big brands. That’s not going to change, regardless of the moves and dances Google and the rest of the engines decide to play.   Keep an eye out for the new trends of today, but don’t let go of the solid SEO basics.  Even if dinosaurs like Robert Scoble tell you to.

Your Comments

  • Robert Scoble

    You didn’t take on the overall point that was being made in my post and you didn’t take on the video I did with two SEO experts.

    What was that point?

    That five years ago it was enough to focus on just SEO.

    Today it is absolutely wrong to have a small business focus on just SEO. If they do, they just won’t cause a market conversation that will get them business.

    That means that SEO is dramatically less important as part of your overall online marketing efforts. Does that mean I am telling businesses not to do it? No. That’s why you need to watch the video to get more about what we’re really talking about.

    That said, most businesses should NOT be asking for SEO. They should be looking for people who’ll holistically help them with their online marketing. That means everything from generating leads through advertising, to SEO to make sure their pages appear in search, to social media content strategies so that they start a marketplace conversation (which will get them into SERPs and onto Facebook and Twitter), to tracking so they know where their customers are coming from and what the value of those customers are to their businesses.

    It’s too bad you didn’t take on those bigger points and chose, yet again, just to attack me.

    • Ian


      The SEO “experts” you interviewed didn’t even properly optimize their own services site. And SEO since 1996? And they can’t even use proper canonicalization on their own site?

      And I love that they say Google is a ‘partner’.

      And they list meta tags as part of their SEO strategy?!

      They are not a credible source.

      • Rob Sellen

        Ha ha…. :o)

        That made me laugh.

      • George Revutsky

        Dear Ian –

        I get it – you were in a hurry and jumped to some conclusions from Robert’s headline. So you force me to deliver a little ***Old-School** SEO beat-down

        If you saw the video you would know his post is his alone. Read my comments here: http://twitter.com/george_revutsky and also here: http://bit.ly/7sMhwJ

        Now, please allow me to set the record straight on your 4 allegations:

        1) You scoff that I could have been doing SEO since 1996 (though you say on your site YOU’VE been doing it since 1995?)
        Please see the following link (visible on our main site’s home page) to an article in the East Bay Business Times which documents the sale of my first seo and web design company, in 1998. I had been operating 1hot since 1996. http://roiworks.com/images/1hot_sold.jpg

        More proof? A reference-able SEO client I had in 1997: Culinary Parts Unlimited, Wendy Davidson. We made her rank #1 on all engines at the time for “culinary parts” Piece of cake in those days, right? She is still a client, at another company, 14 years later. Want to call her?

        In other words, “Why you tryin to clown us, when you got that Red Nose on?”

        2) You attack us for mentioning that we are “partners” with the search engines:

        Dude – we are partners in the fullest sense of the word. We have actually built the MyNextCustomer software on top of the Adwords and Yahoo Search APIs, among others. We are also an Adwords Certified company like you guys (fair disclosure – a couple of our certs expired and we need to re-take the test again to keep that designation)

        3) You claimed “And they list meta tags as part of their SEO strategy?!”
        We do no such thing, either on our site or in the video. Any SEO practicing today should know that the meta keywords tag has NO impact on the ranking you get in Google SERPs. I debunk this very thing in the video.

        Conversely, as I am sure you know, the Meta Description is VERY important to maximizing the traffic from the rankings you do happen to achieve. What you write there often (but not always) appears in the SERPS and can help people decide to click through to your site.

        And we all know Title Tags make Google do the Humpty Dance (playing the old school tunes just for you Ian) and are important.

        Some would disagree with both of us, and say that, since Bing seems to care somewhat about the meta keywords tag, even the meta keywords tag is important.

        4) Our own site: Guilty. And we don’t care.
        We’ve been working our asses off for 2+ years developing a software product while running a services business. So we don’t have the staff or resources to handle a lot of inquiries from random people calling or emailing us. Clients find us through referral from current, happy customers, and we do not accept all comers. Our blog also, is rarely updated. We’ll work on both soon. Thanks for mentioning it.

        On the other hand, our SEO skills are pretty OK when it comes to our clients. We compete successfully in some of the hardest categories out there – greeting cards, home services, banking, and education. Our clients include household brands, public companies, and SMBs. I just keep a lower profile.

        Most (though not all) of them eventually achieve P1, top 5 and top 10 rankings for highly competitive phrases. Quite a few rank 1st, even. Perhaps most importantly, we consistently and dramatically increase our clients’ overall organic traffic and revenue.

        RE: expertise
        If you want to call yourself an expert, be my guest. My take is, we are all merely students and practitioners. I am sure you know exactly what I mean.

        Some folks who invite me to speak or teach (Apple, the Northern California BMA) think I’m plenty credible. I am sorry you decided I was not – but I won’t lose any sleep over it since Tim Ash, Brad Geddes, Alan Bleiweis, Andrew Shotland, and others in our industry all think I’m an OK guy to talk search with.

        OK. Enough. You’re probably a super-smart guy – just please, next time, see the video or take a second before casting aspersions on a fellow SEO in this crazy industry.


        George Revutsky

        • Michael

          LOL @ “We made her rank #1 on all engines at the time for ‘culinary parts’” I have not laughed so hard in days. Thanks George. Seriously, my five year old daughter could probably rank her webkinz website for culinary parts with little effort.

          • George Revutsky

            Hi Michael –

            The baked goods portion of my comment seems to have escaped you. Notice the full sentence I wrote, which you only quoted in part:
            “We made her rank #1 on all engines at the time for “culinary parts” Piece of cake in those days, right?”

            So, contrary to your post, I’m NOT showing off that we achieved that in 1997 – I know easy it was in those days. RTFM.

            The whole point of my response, is that I’ve been a legitimate online marketing and search consultant since 1996, something Ian Lurie cast aspersions on without knowing anything about me. He did not take the time to see that we are a legit colleague in the field, and I simply could not allow that to stand.

            Plenty of our clients rank first or second for super competitive 2-word phrases today, as well as a long tail of thousands of semantic variations. I’d be happy to demonstrate this to you on a gotomeeting conf. call. But wait – I don’t know who YOU are since you don’t post a link to your site or blog….


          • George Revutsky

            Hi Michael –

            The baked goods portion of my comment seems to have escaped you. Notice the full sentence I wrote, which you only quoted in part:
            “We made her rank #1 on all engines at the time for “culinary parts” Piece of cake in those days, right?”

            So, contrary to your post, I’m NOT showing off that we achieved that in 1997 – I know easy it was in those days. RTFM.

            The whole point is that I’ve been a legitimate online marketing and search consultant since 1996, something Ian Lurie cast aspersions on without knowing anything about me. He did not take the time to see that we are a legit colleague in the field, and I simply could not allow that to stand.

            Plenty of our clients rank first or second for super competitive 2-word phrases today, as well as a long tail of thousands of semantic variations. I’d be happy to demonstrate this to you on a gotomeeting conf. call. But wait – I don’t know who YOU are since you don’t post a link to your site or blog….


          • Michael


            RE: “I don’t know who YOU are since you don’t post a link to your site or blog”

            That’s because you don’t need to know who I am and the sites I run. Now, if you are interested in buying some links (you know, since title tag and meta description will only get you so far THESE days), just reply with “4d:61:74:74:43:61:6e:4b:69:73:73:4d:79:41:73:73” (translate here if you can’t read HEX: http://www.dolcevie.com/js/converter.html) and I’ll contact you myself.

          • George Revutsky

            Great – thanks for the message – best of luck.

          • Eddie B

            Hey Michael! I want to buy some links man! I heard it works wonders!!

          • Eddie B

            here is mistery michael, george:

            you would hope that so much for effort for trying to be anonymous would take more than 10 seconds on google to uncover… … now we can both buy some links!

          • Alan Bleiweiss

            George, ignore the arrogant child in the sunglasses. It’s obvious you were simply pointing out that search engines existed that far back, business owners needed to be found in the search engines, and even if the rules were much simpler back then, it was still a valid business model and service offering.

          • George Revutsky

            Eddie – haha. He makes sure to leave his name off his agency’s site, so how could I possibly find out? Anyways, Michael, all kidding aside – thanks, but we don’t need to buy any links.

            all the best

        • Ian

          Sorry you took offense.


          I’ve been doing internet marketing since 1995. Not SEO.

          Your site does say you make meta tags part of your strategy: http://www.roiworks.com/search_engine_optimization_consultant.php

          You aren’t a partner with the search engines. No one is. They’re in their own weird little world.

          I did watch the video. I refrained from making comments about it, because I know that Scoble took you way out of context and threw you to the wolves, which was unkind.

          All that said, I was unfair. You didn’t ask to be represented as a predictor of all things SEO. I’ve been pitched on the pile a few times myself.

          Mea Culpa.

          • George Revutsky

            Ian – thank you for the apology. That’s the most important thing.

            Just a little clarification:

            1) you’re probably right, 95, 96 we were all doing “internet marketing”
            as it was called. or maybe it was “interactive marketing”. Some basic SEO was already being done back then though.

            1) “Your site does say you make meta tags part of your strategy”
            Look again at the page you link to above. We do not use the word Strategy on that page. We simply list meta tags in a long list of tactics, which we refer to as search engine optimization factors.

            I think you read that as we were somehow implying that the meta keywords tag makes a whit of difference for ranking or traffic. It doesn’t, and we don’t.

            However, the meta description tag is another story. We do think it is key (not for ranking though).

            See, we come from the same school of thought as Jill Whalen, who defines SEO as actually “optimizing a website for people who use search engines”.

            Using that definition, the Meta Description tag IS very strategic, since a well written Meta Description is what makes people click. Which hugely impacts the traffic you actually generate after you rank. We just define SEO more broadly.

            2. “You aren’t a partner with the search engines. No one is. They’re in their own weird little world.”

            You’re right, it is a weird world, huh? If I pay you money, you’re my vendor. If you pay me money, you’re my customer.

            In our book, if you train me and certify me, then I place many millions of dollars in advertising revenue with you, then you license your APIs to me, then I build apps on top of yours – well, we call that a partner.

            But let’s agree to disagree on that one… cheers, and thanks again for the mea culpa.

            all the best,


  • Lisa Barone

    Robert: Oh stop, I did not attack you. Let’s not make the post more about you than it really was. It was about small businesses and their need to focus on “traditional SEO” as well as the new stuff.

    You’re pretending that SEO five years ago is the same as SEO today or that people are doing it the same way. No one in their right mind would tell you to ignore social media, to ignore the conversation and focus on the “traditional” aspects of SEO. But writing that SEO has become less important isn’t accurate either and it’s a really dangerous thing to preach to people. And that’s what you’re telling them. That because we have all these other avenues, avenues that AREN’T in people’s control and that may be GONE tomorrow that SEO is less important. That’s pure crap.

    What does “holistically help them with their online marketing” mean? That includes SEO does it not? While you accuse me of not watching your video, did you even read the post beyond the title?

  • Robert Scoble

    >Oh stop, I did not attack you

    Oh, right, “ignore the silly man” in the headline is not an attack. OK. :-)

  • Alex Guest

    Hi Lisa

    It needed to be said. I see so many startups in Europe completely failing to understand SEO at all, either ignoring it or believing it’s some mystical art. It’s very unhelpful when someone like Robert Scoble says SEO doesn’t matter.

    The simple stuff you mention is easy to implement and Google provides a guide here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf.

    As for Google’s new real time search, I’m sure the service will evolve but, in the meantime, I find it’s of little value, mainly because the stream is so “real time”. No matter how good or bad, the results just fly past.

    I posted my views on Google’s real time search earlier today.

    • Lisa Barone

      Hey Alex,

      You’re right. The simple stuff IS super easy to implement, it’s more an education process to help SMBs know that it even exists and that should be doing it. Claiming your listings, setting up a clean site, etc, it’s all really, really important. And it’s basic SEO. That was really my only fear with Robert’s piece – that it tells people that SEO is less important. It’s not less important. There’s jut more to deal with now.

  • DaraBell

    I would say that someone has the wrong end of the stick. I would say that SEO is as important as your SME presence on real time web or Web2.0. If you run a flowershop realistically how important is holistic approach, you both used the word holistic in approach some agreement is there.

    Also to disagree with both of you again you have so much to do in given day running a SME you might get a few weekends (and this the way it is) to bump up your Search. You will be on the phone and talking and interacting with consumers the rest of the time, or getting someone to do flyers in your local.
    Hope this can offer another opinion and encourage you to look at each others pouints of view.

    • Lisa Barone

      Hey Dara. Thanks for hopping in and offering another look.

      As for the “holistic” approach – I think it’s definitely possible for even the smallest business to get a solid SEO background, plus incorporate some of the new stuff we have thanks to social media. You mentioned a florist, but what about a small town caterer or a local lawn care company? You don’t have to do everything, we don’t have TIME to do everything, but you should (1) get your site squared away from an SEO perspective and (2) find your community on the Web. I don’t think you can get away from that in today’s environment.

    • Gerald Weber

      When they say holistic approach i keep think they are talking about acupuncture or something lol!

  • Stuart

    If people start telling small businesses that “SEO doesn’t matter” there will be a lot more bad websites as a result. Regular web designers won’t be able to say “we shouldn’t have that 100% Flash splash page because it’s bad for your search engine rankings” if the small business owners believe SEO isn’t important. That’s bad for website accessibility too.

    I guess “2010: The Year You Need to Go Beyond SEO” wasn’t good enough linkbait though…

    • Lisa Barone

      Ha. Totally agreed on the title.

      Honestly, I don’t think Robert and I disagree on most of it. I think where we disagree was his title where, in order to attract attention, he proclaimed that SEO isn’t important for a small business owner. Which is a really dangerous statement to make, IMO. No one is saying that we should go back to the year 2000 of SEO techniques.

    • Robert Scoble

      If THAT is what you took away from our video and my headline, which was definitely aimed at getting discussion going about online marketing, then you are an idiot and no SEO or SEM or OM or whatever will be able to save you.

      • Lisa Barone

        If you could not call our commenters idiots, that’d be super. We can debate and disagree, can’t we?

        • Robert Scoble

          Lisa: I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about anyone reading here, but about some faceless small business who somehow stumbles onto my blog post (and how did they do that, anyway) who doesn’t notice my headline was a question, not a statement, and decides to stop doing SEO (or worse, start using FLash splash pages) just because of one post. Sorry, if such a person exists (I don’t think they do) that person is an idiot and nothing will save their business anyway. That statement has nothing to do with your commenters, who are, I’m sure, all pretty brilliant people.

          • Kathryn

            Robert: I did internet tech support for 2 years of my life. As someone that’s spent a lot of time talking to end users, including small business owners, I can tell you that they’re not stupid, they’re ignorant. By posting an article that states SEO isn’t important anymore, you’re spreading that ignorance and adding to the general confusion about this industry. I’ve dealt with a lot of small business owners that made some rather foolish mistakes because they trusted the wrong “expert”. I know it’s a buyer beware world, but it would be easier for SMBs to make an educated decision if there wasn’t so much junk on the web.

            P.S. – I’ve included a link to my Twitter account in case you find my remarks offense and feel the need to block me from your existence.

            Lisa: Thanks for calling Robert out on this.

          • Stuart

            Yeah, how might a small business owner stumble onto that blog post, or even just see the headline without reading the article… they’d probably need to be using Twitter or something, and no small business owners do that. ;)

          • Robert Scoble

            Kathryn: the antidote to ignorance is education and conversation. If I got a business owner who is ignorant to watch a 30 minute video, which goes into fairly good detail about what a modern business should be doing online, and gets them to see all the comments from all sorts of experts, including Danny Sullivan, then isn’t that a good thing? I seriously doubt I had anyone who is ignorant reading my blog anyway. That just doesn’t happen just like I doubt anyone who is here is ignorant.

          • Stuart

            For a small business owner to stumble onto that blog post, or just see the headline without reading the article… they’d probably need to be using Twitter or something, and no small business owners do that. Right? ;)

          • Manda

            Small business owners in this economy, are most likely, working. They would most likely miss read the linked url, which omits the ?. Like Stuart mentions, they would most likely already have to be internet savy to stumble across your said article Mr. Scoble. The feeling of the article with emphasis that SEO is changing and SEO needs to take a more holistic approach, isn’t old news.
            I feel Lisa’s post has brought in some interesting points, most important being:
            “As a small business owner, search engine optimization will remain important to your site”.
            For someone of your reputation Mr. Scoble to make such ‘off-the-cuff’ statements that can be so mis-represented, is a little on the irresponsible side.
            I need to get back to work.
            Thanks Lisa for the post.

        • Gerald Weber

          Wow! I’m amazed to see Robert Scoble name calling in the comments.

    • Robert Scoble

      I learned headline writing techniques from SEO types. :-)

  • Daniel

    Feisty room in here. And they call ME “mister confrontational.” Ha. You guys rock.

  • Rob Sellen

    Typical hypocrite…

    “Don’t attack me Lisa, as long as I can attack people by calling them idiots”


    • Robert Scoble

      You’re just sad I blocked you on Twitter. But then this kind of misreading by you is why I did.

      • Lisa Barone

        Sigh. How about we all take a step back and take this down a notch or two? Apologies to Robert is he felt “attacked”, I really don’t feel as though it was that hard in the post, but, we all have different levels. I think we’re missing out on a really good discussion while this degenerates into a boxing ring.

        Deal? Please?

        • Michael Martin


          So now you are offering Robert a “peace offering”?

          He obviously wanted to stir the Internet Marketing industry’s hornets nest a la Jason Calcanis a couple years ago spurring counters to his argument especially Danny’s sure to come reply in Search Engine Land.

          So its taking his bait on that although he did in fact take your bait in responding the comments ;)

          ,Michael Martin

          • Lisa Barone

            He can stir and kick and do whatever he wants. On his own blog. I’d like to keep the conversation a few rungs above third grade where we trade pushes. Again, I HONESTLY, do not think my calling him “silly” was an attack on his character but if it led to this….ugh.

          • Robert Scoble

            Lisa: I didn’t call SEOs dunces or silly. You are the one who took the conversation down to that level. My headline asked a question. You could have just answered the question without the dunce imagery or calling me a silly man. But we all know those techniques work to get an emotional response out of our audiences and our adversaries, right? Are you REALLY shocked that that got reflected in the conversation here? Especially when we all have history together (Rob has been doing the same silly stuff for years, which is why I blocked him)?

            Ahh, the fun of the Internet. :-)

          • Lisa Barone

            Robert: I call people “silly” quite a bit and the photo was probably in poor taste, but I was more being lighthearted. Again, apologies if you felt “attacked”. Honestly, I really did think this conversation could have stayed above water.

            And though we do have “history” of disagreements, there’s also history of my tweeting that you rocked many of your blogworld presentations…so much so that I was accused of being paid off by blogworld. Heh.

      • Rob Sellen

        Sad cos you blocked me? Lol.. as if I would be bothered by that… I don’t and wouldn’t follow you Robert.

        You twist everything as if the world revolves around you. You always think you are right.
        You call people idiots, yet don’t take it like you dish it out.

        That IS sad.

        I didn’t misread anything. Granted, I can’t watch the video, being deaf, but even so, your post said alot and I still think you are wrong.
        What do i know though? Not alot regrading SEO.

        Not that it matters, because I am not the one giving out misleading advice about what I don’t know, you are.

        You are just a egotistical bullying type, for that reason I have NO reason to want to follow you anywhere, let alone twitter.

        Glad you blocked me, means I don’t have to see any tweet you make.

        Suits me. :D

        Ever tasted humble pie Robert?
        May wanna try it.

  • Ross Hudgens

    The title has a question mark at the end rather than a period. While I agree with a lot of what Lisa says besides anything that has to do with an interpretation of Scoble’s post, I agree with everything that Scoble has to say in his blog post, too. Search is changing, and SEOs should take greater strides to being able to provide holistic strategies, rather than simply SEO, as Scoble mentions.

    • Lisa Barone

      Hey Ross, I did feel a bit in the post as if Robert was dismissing SEO, which is what concerned me. He’s too influential and has too far of a reach to say something like that. Because while most of us losers could say it and have no one listened, there may actually some SMB owners who would take that as a sign that they could back off the SEO stuff and focus on everything else. And that may put them in a dangerous position. That’s what I was trying to get across…and then the comments happened.

      Thanks for the level-headed comment. :)

      • Robert Scoble

        If anyone came away from my post with the idea that they should immediately kill any SEO work they are doing and start doing stuff that was wrong back in 2000, like Flash splash pages, they aren’t a very careful reader and they have far deeper business problems than either of us can solve. Luckily most of my readers are far smarter than that. I think most of your readers are too.

        • Stuart

          Here’s what people are taking from your post: “Very interesting. I won’t miss SEO”

          • C Jones

            I think those Small Business owners who are already stretched for TIME and MONEY might ‘allow’ this article influence them to stop doing what really don’t like doing already – SEO.

            Regardless of their otherwise better judgement.

            Like Offering a cigarette to a addict trying to kick the habit. “I don’t do that any more because I read it wasn’t going to be important in 2010”.

  • Norcross

    Being somewhat (publicly) new in the design / development arena, I’ve been working almost exclusively with local small businesses to get them up to speed. Seeing a video like this (and yes, I watched the entire thing Scoble) could give a lot of folks the wrong idea of what SEO work is, or worse even more confusion and sense of defeat before they even start.

    If it’s on the web for anything other than personal gratification, then it needs basic / proper SEO work on it. I can’t believe there is even a debate about this.

    • Robert Scoble

      I believe in treating my audience as smart people. That means showing them what they are up against or where they need to get some help, not trying to oversimplify things just because they don’t have time to learn all about the Internet and how to best use it.

      The headline was a question mark designed to get conversation going. It sure did that.

      • Norcross

        Likewise, I’ve found that treating my customers (your audience) as idiots rarely serves me well. But I also value their time as much as I do their intelligence. Hence a 30 minute video (which most small business owners simply don’t have the time to watch) coupled with that headline and your opening line (The writing is on the wall….) would give quite a few intelligent people the wrong idea. The ‘No longer is it about optimizing search engine results’ statement? Irresponsible. That’s still what it is all about. Obviously the methods, data sources, and analytics are changing, but the end goal is to still be there at the top.

  • James

    I think that trying to play online marketing as some kind of zero-sum game is a mistake. You can pay more attention to holistic (god, how I hate that word) marketing techniques without paying less attention to more traditional SEO techniques.

    With regards Robert’s post, I think the headline is probably fair – I see nothing wrong with suggesting that SMEs move beyond SEO in terms of looking at other techniques in addition to traditional SEO methods. Of course, the year for that would have been more like 2008, not 2010, but we can probably blame his time at Microsoft for causing him to spot trends 2 years later than everyone else.

    I think where the article falls into controversy is where he starts tossing around phrases like ‘The writing is on the wall’ and ‘dramatically less important’. SEO is a constantly evolving domain, so it’s not a case of SEO becoming less important, it’s a case of SEO changing with the times, as it always has.

    • Robert Scoble

      It’s my opinion after talking with tons of businesses about their online marketing and media efforts. Yes, I state a point strongly in order to get a conversation going. There is no black and white here, we’re all trying to see patterns in the gray.

      • Lisa Barone

        Right. And if you think SEO is “dramatically less important” and you’re TELLING that to people…that’s a dangerous shade to be in. But we can talk about that without all the other bullshit.

        • Robert Scoble

          Hmmm, after reading your post and your comments, I think even you agreed with that statement. That a business today needs to do a lot more stuff than they did five years ago to get customers online. That’s all I was saying, which is another way of saying that SEO is dramatically less important. Today’s business NEEDS to do more than SEO. But, if you read Danny Sullivan’s comments over on my blog you’ll see he argues that the definition of SEO has changed dramatically over the past five years. That’s a more nuanced answer than just debating, too.

          EIther way, it’s smart for businesses to reconsider what they are doing online. Search has changed quite a bit this year and will change even more next year (thanks Bing for making the market competitive again!) so you better keep your skills and mix up to date.

          This isn’t a bad debate for anyone to have, other than the silly man headlines which just are funny anyway and are useful for attention grabbing. Oh, wait, is THAT the new SEO? Heheheh!

          • Brian Clark

            >>which is another way of saying that SEO is dramatically less important..

            All of that other stuff *is* seo. You just don’t know it.

            Ignorance does not make you insightful, Robert. That’s what’s so comical about this.

      • Scott Polk

        Robert – it has never been black and white. I know you are more than likely doing this for media attention, but stating the SEO is dead for Small Business in 2010 is just wrong. It is needed more than ever with the changing of the landscape.

      • graywolf

        I’m detecting a pattern of people who keep calling SEO dead … if anyone of them had a clue what they where talking about it wouldn’t happen often enough to be a pattern now would it? Didn’t you declare it dead back in 2007?

        • Ian

          Calling SEO dead/unimportant = link bait

          It’s the only reason.

        • Michael Martin

          That was Jason Calcanis last year, LOL

          ,Michael Martin

        • Miguel

          SEO IS dead, doesn’t work anymore. Everyone pack up and go home. Nothing to see here, move along!

          There’s a new group forming over there in the comfy social media area, its right there, next to the puppy dogs and ice cream factory.

          • Rob Sellen

            along with blogging, twitter, and all else that’s dead… sigh.

          • Scott Polk

            its all about rainbows and butterflies now days

          • @digeratti

            Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of awesome mystical power. We know this because they manage to be invisible & pink at the same time.

          • Jason Lankow

            @Miguel – your comment about the puppy dogs made me laugh. There is a new site I’ve been working with and it was taking a bit longer than usual for some of the more in-depth articles to gain traction in social news sites, and I made a comment to the client that I understand it can be frustrating when you work really hard on developing your content and don’t see everything take off right away, while some photo of a puppy takes off like a rocketship. A week later, they called and were laughing because one of their users had uploaded a photo of a puppy sleeping, and after we discovered it for them on stumbleupon, it has sent 43,000 people in the past few days. It’s a lot easier for people to be critical of work that you put a lot more effort into, but who can really be mad at a sleeping puppy :)

            With regards to the debate, I think that Scoble is essentially saying that the bar has been raised. Once something works, and people see it working, it loses a bit of its novelty, and while you maintain that foundation (or build it as a starting point, if you are a new business), the vital ingredients keep growing in number.

            In my experience (primarily in social media content creation/promotion) I am seeing great results when my team collaborates with and integrates with clients’ SEO and PR teams towards a common goal. I would encourage any SEO that doesn’t already have a reliable social team to seek out and align yourselves with some strategic partners as there are more and more people who are active power users who can help create content AND get your clients exposure/traffic/links in addition to your own efforts. You might even be able to do some good old fashion bartering if you are on a tight budget. If you combine that with integration and cooperation with your clients’ existing PR team objectives you are off to a fine start, and then it’s just a matter of keeping fresh ideas flowing :) Coming from the social side of things, I have a lot of respect for SEO, and see the importance of the holistic approach as not slighting any tool/industry, but pointing to the necessity of integrating them and removing some of the tidy little boundaries we put up as we try to define ever-evolving industries.

  • Sean McVey

    1. As outsider objectively reading this blog, this post does in fact come across as an attack. Robert is called out many times and depicted as a villain. That’s ok though, that’s what blog responses are for.

    2. I read Robert’s post and watched the entire video. The title implies that SEO is becoming less important, but the post has a different point. The title, being controversial, was clearly to get more clicks and pull in readers. Again, this is ok. Good bloggers have controversial titles.

    3. What I got out of this conversation is that SEO is not becoming less important, but instead changing (as usual). Taking a holistic approach to your marketing is no new concept. It makes perfect sense and any good business owner will look to improve all aspects of marketing, including SEO. George Revutsky does a great job telling us specifically what to look for in upcoming search engine changes. Robert, I see your point on traditional SEO tactics receiving less attention overall, but I agree with Lisa that is in no way less important to worry about search rankings. Lisa, try to get over this bold claim and focus on the great interview. We can all learn things from these veterans.

    • Jim

      I like this comment.

    • Gerald Weber

      “The title implies that SEO is becoming less important, but the post has a different point. The title, being controversial, was clearly to get more clicks and pull in readers. Again, this is ok. Good bloggers have controversial titles. ”

      I completely disagree. While it is good to write a compelling headline that attracts readers, clicks etc. writing a misleading headline is a cheap and cheesy trick. Nothing wrong with being controversial if it’s for a good reason but if it’s to represent something different than what the post is about you are essentially tricking people into reading your content. not a cheaper trick in the book if you ask me. The title should reinforce the content of the post period.

      This was clearly a piece of link bait written to elicit a response from the SEO community.

    • Brian Clark

      >>Good bloggers have controversial titles.

      Or talent.

  • wtfseo

    Hey Scoble, Lisa. My E-Penis is bigger than yours!

    Will you guys just lay them on the table and end this? (I’ve got my money on Lisa)

  • Annie Cushing

    I think Robert backed himself up against the wall by using absolutes, which is always very high risk in writing b/c it provides little flexibility and spawns spirited opposing views. He actually makes some salient points that I wholeheartedly agree with but kinda throws the proverbial baby out with the bath water with a few statements like these:

    2010: the year SEO isn’t important anymore?
    [Shot himself in the foot right from the starting gate w/ this title.]

    The writing is on the wall. Small business marketing is moving away from focusing on SEO.
    [Did I mention those are the intro sentences? Ouch. This statement makes me wonder how much he interfaces with small business owners. It’s been my experience that many (most?) haven’t even begun to focus on SEO, let alone moved on from it.]

    No longer is it about optimizing search engine results …
    [A simple “just” thrown in before “about” would have gone a long way to mollifying that perspective.]

    I came away from this conversations thinking that SEO is getting dramatically less important …
    [Really? Dramatically less important? I would disagree. I think we’ll see more and more of a symbiosis between SEO and social media best practices, but I agree w/ Lisa that as long as people use search, SEO will play a role in the results that are served up. And when I’m doing serious research on a product or concept, I’m not going to be nearly as interested in people’s tweets or FB pages as I will authoritative sources I find online.]

    Hopefully there will be a lesson in rhetoric that Robert can siphon from this experience. It could go a long way in keeping him out of the line of fire in the future. I mean, if you’re intentionally wanting to make a dramatic point and can withstand the scrutiny, go for it with gusto. Nothing quite like watching someone self-immolate online. But, judging from other statements he made in the article and were said in the video, it sounds like the controversy stems more from wanting rhetorical skills than a lack of understanding of the role SEO will play in 2010.

  • wtfseo

    Small business will come back to SEO when they realize that many social media gurus are just selling hype that doesn’t monetize or even lend itself to being tracked. Followers and comments and retweets are great, but there’s rarely any proof of how those translate into sales.

    When it comes time for me to call a plumber, I’m going to search Google for one near me’s phone number. I’m not going to look on Twitter or Dodgeball or friendfeed. I don’t care what the plumber had for dinner, I just want my toilet to work so I can take care of my dinner.

  • Jen

    Totally agree Lisa. The essence of SEO is understanding how Search Engines can play a role in online visibility and doing everything possible to support the natural process of being indexed and ranked. Too many SMB’s are making simple mistakes that don’t even have anything to do with obvious search barriers like “Flash splash pages”. A lot of errors are simply based in not understanding how search engines work, and how users behave. These issues have to do with a business’s entire mentality about their own online presence. The need to adjust this mentality is certainly not going anywhere and to that end, neither is SEO.

  • Casey Yandle

    Is it just me or would Scoble’s face imposed on the “dunce” be hilarious? :) Would that image be even better linkbait than that video? :)

  • David Krug

    As a guy whose been in and out of SEO for about 10 years I feel like mooning Scoble.
    Thanks for the smart and educated rebuttal Lisa.

    Scoble does do a few SEO thing right. He uses Thesis with some of the worlds best built in SEO. But SEO is not important right ?

  • Kenny

    SILLY comment threads like this make me wish we could just fist fight like the old days.

  • Robert Brady

    3 thoughts:

    1. Wow!

    2. They don’t call it Outspoken Media for nothing.

    3. Did anyone else think (upon first glance) that the guy with the Dunce cap was Shoemoney?

  • Jeffrey Henderson

    Actually you can run very successful small businesses with nothing but SEO and good customer service. I’ve been running a cigar event biz on the side for years with nothing but SEO for marketing and it does extremely well with no overhead marketing costs.

  • Disa Johnson

    Haven’t read Scoble in a while since, well I don’t care to say how long or why. Didn’t read the latest since, well it doesn’t sound like it’s from a practitioner but a pundit and tech elitist POV. I do follow Scoble on Twitter since it’s not always silly and sometimes apt as conversation I rather like.

    What’s true is, indexing is kinda important. How and what you get indexed is influenced by any or no SEO depending whether you do or do not give a damn. There are plenty of other costly ways to drive biznatch as much as SEO can be costly especially when you do it wrongly hah hah!.

    But seriously, SEO is not that different than last decade. It’s just the practitioners are more wise to the ways us old schoolers were so effective for big brands, or SMBs for that matter. I chose the big brand route and had a total gas. I still have wisdoms that I keep and covet that are mine alone. I’ll share in a book that includes my own life story just for fun. Stay tuned.

    To say the advancements of search to RT with Twitter makes SEO less important is like saying that Infoseek’s 24-hour indexing means forget Altavista. Don’t be silly. Google has serious competition in Bing and they bit way too much getting into a fight with Apple while taking on Microsoft so blatantly. Their hubris is their doom.

    I have excellent Bing results. Google is now the Frankenstein of search engines. It makes me laugh thinking on all the pundits thinking Google rules search at the height of their power while they precariously perch on a cliffhanger pathway of utter doom on either side. They’ve forgotten the importance of search just as much as Yahoo! did 1997. I wouldn’t currently pundit on Google for all the tea in China.

  • Rae Hoffman

    Hey Robert, as an FYI, this post wasn’t in the top 100 for your name until I changed the title tag to include your name without changing the actual post name about 30 minutes ago (hint: this is sometimes referred to as an “SEO” technique)… with freshness factored in (it’s ok, I know you probably don’t get what I mean by that) we’re now between #18 and #23 for your name “Robert Scoble” (the numbers change depending on which location based proxy I use and which datacenter it’s hitting). We’ll likely rise higher the more views this post gets. Don’t worry though, we’ll fall a bit over the next few days… so you won’t have an ORM issue to deal with. ;-) Cheers.

    • Scott Polk

      LOL – gotta love the interwebz

    • Shawn Collins

      It could be an interesting challenge for those who practice the almost dead art of SEO to see who can rank highest for “Robert Scoble”.

    • Matthew Diehl

      #13 (and climbing)

    • John C. Welch

      Snerk :-)

      Robert’s just using his NMD Playbook. Make sure the title is linkbait, even if it sucks. Claim all disagreements are either misunderstandings or due to reader stupidity. Anything but constant fawning is an attack. so forth and so on.

      Of course, the issue that Robert’s never actually run a small business and has no real idea of what that really involves is minor. If your website, twitter presence, facebook fan page, friendfeed, and blog aren’t up to par, then your business is a failure. Even if you’re making money and are profitable.

      Because heaven knows, you can’t have good BBQ without a website.

      • Robert Scoble

        That’s not true. I ran, or helped run, several consumer electronics stores in the 1980s and was employee #8 at Fawcette Technical Publications and helped that grow to more than 200 employees at one point with millions in revenues. I also was director of marketing at Winnov, a small video capture card company in the mid-1990s and did same thing at UserLand, a small software company in 2001. So, I’ve been around the block at several small companies before joining some big ones, NEC, Microsoft, and now Rackspace. (In there also I worked at a Silicon Valley venture-funded startup as Vice President of content development). It’s too bad you can’t be factual.

        • Stuart

          Since you brought it up… :)

          Where are the “Facts” supporting your claim that SEO is on it’s way out in 2010 and Social Media consultants (eg Robert Scoble) will be what the savvy small business owner should be hiring? Hint: that video you posted along with your article doesn’t support that claim at all.

          • Robert Scoble

            I’m not a social media consultant. I don’t know where you got that one. It was my opinion couched as a question to get a conversation going and to get you to watch a video where you’d learn a lot from one of the best SEO experts in the world. Sorry you couldn’t see that.

          • Lisa Barone

            Robert: To be fair, the SEO expert wonders down below WTF you’re even talking about.

          • Stuart

            Twitter Guru? I’m not sure how you’re pitching what you do. Whatever the title the article has a 2010: The Year of Scoble undercurrent to it. Building yourself up is awesome. Doing it by tearing down lots of other people? Not awesome.

            And putting misleading titles on stuff to try and trick people into watching your video is for kids on YouTube. You should be above doing stuff like that. If you just want lots of views and don’t care about what people think of the content you’ll be putting in T & A thumbnail pics for the videos next.

        • John C. Welch

          Sure you did Robert. What companies did you found/create from nothing and run? Names work.

          As well, you, whose policy has been, from your lips to the Internet’s ears, “I care about being first more than factual. If if make a mistake, the readers will correct it in the comments, so I don’t have to care about fact checking. My readers do it for me.” chiding anyone about ‘being factual’ is highly giggle-worthy. About like Elvis calling someone out for having an ugly belt.

          You helped popularize the concept that fact-checking is for suckers and losers. Don’t get huffy about it now.

        • Bob Stanke

          “consumer electronic stores in the 1980’s” – HA! Anyone can get a job at Best Buy or National Camera Exchange! That doesn’t impress me!

          Why would you even admit to that!?!?!?

    • Robert Scoble

      Too bad not many people search Google for “Robert Scoble.” Plus, if you knew your eyetrak research you’d know that 98% of searchers don’t look further than the top five links on the first page, so, does this all really matter? No. But it is fun!

  • Shannon Paul

    I think there are still a lot of oversimplified views of SEO that only consist of things like title tags on pages and a general lack of Flash, but that’s not giving the practice very much credit. A good organic SEO strategy (as I’m sure you guys know very well) will also include a content strategy that doesn’t just generate a bunch of phony sounding content filled with keywords. A good SEO strategy will also focus on un-branded keywords (I could be wrong, but I think Robert might just be thinking about branded keywords only).

    I work pretty closely with an SEO manager in my current role (I’m more on the squishy side of community development and SMO), and the interesting thing is that we both request a lot of the same things but for different reasons simply because Google tends to like things that People also like. Search, social media and user experience are all important and increasingly intertwined in their dependency on one another to be successful.

    Maybe this will sound a little corny, but how *social* can your business/website be if you can’t be found? Accessibility seems like an important part of community building and organic, holistic outreach to me.

  • Disa Johnson

    TItles are so freaking important forever. No RT Twitter results are going to untie the importance of SGML > HTML > Element=Title for crying out loud. Default bookmark, browser tab, launch button, alt-tab rotated text. Titles are that good and Rae hit it out of the park with one small change to the Title on this page. The SEO stadium is cheering as she trots around the bases.

  • Dennis Goedegebuure

    @Shannon Paul

    Maybe this will sound a little corny, but how *social* can your business/website be if you can’t be found? Accessibility seems like an important part of community building and organic, holistic outreach to me.

    What’s more, what user experience do you have, if there are no users…

  • Stuart Foster

    Until someone indexes the web by hand?

    SEO will matter.

    SEO is the gas for my marketing car. Without it? Nothing runs.

    • Patrick Boegel

      Stuart, you have exposed my lifes work! A dewey decimal system of the entire content of the internet.

      Oh well. SEO matters a lot, and matters even moreso with search engines playing real time games. No matter the size of your business a proper view and application of search will be relevant until such time as individual abandon search as a discovery tool. I predict that the latter won’t happen in 2010, or likely by 2020.

  • Aaron

    Great fight here …

    Just wanted to point out that there’s no magical clock that says from 2010, things change.

    Just like the last five years being the ‘year of the mobile’, anyone can make a blanket statement based on trends – it doesn’t mean it will happen.

    The only idiot, in relation to this, is an idiot who heeds the findings of a blog, not a personal experience.

    If anything, that article was just an exercise in page-view generation from a variety of social bookmarking sources.

  • George Revutsky

    Holy cow. Went to bed having given a sneak peek of our software product/offering, which is useful for both SMBs and search consultants. NOT a criticism of SEOs – its a tool for them. NOT supplanting SEO.

    Worked on it for 2 years, uphill, both ways, with no shoes, you know?

    Woke up to see our video featured as evidence that SEO is not important. WTF??


  • Loren

    Just stop. The traffic isn’t worth you looking so ignorant.

  • Kim Krause Berg

    He must be bored. He did, however, ask for trends we are seeing.

    I was an SEO from 1996 to 2002 when I switched to usability consulting. I did that because SEO was not powerful enough for sucky websites. This year I returned to SEO for local small businesses because they were getting ripped off by top SEO’s. I provide both SEO and Usability services now because the clients WANT it and ASK for the combo.

    The “trend” is smarter companies in the small and medium business realm. It’s the larger companies and advertising agencies that I deal with, who are so grounded in company politics and poor management, that show the most ignorance regarding how to apply SEO.

    Research shows that 95% of searchers click on one of the top 3 search results and the rest of the pages are ignored. People have learned that high position equals quality. Search engines have been tracking user behavior in an effort to support “quality” search results. User behavior IS NOW PART OF TRUE SEO. It has been for years. Keyword research is based on usage. Information architecture for content, structure and site organization doesn’t even work without excellent organic SEO page elements and strong knowledge in usability and user experience.

    Every time I see someone claim that SEO is dead or dying or not what it was cracked up to be, I know immediately they are unskilled, have very little working experience and I wish to hell they’d shut up and get a new job.

  • Steve SEO UK

    Holding a #1 position in Google organic search results for a highly searched keyword phrase, especially long tailed, is unbeatable. No other marketing method can achieve the same conversion results. So SEO is #1 and everything else comes second. For as long as there will be Search Engines, there will be SEO. Long live SEO!

  • Joe Hall

    Who is Robert Scoble?

  • Lee Odden

    Thanks for living up to the name of Outspoken Media :)

  • Sasha Kovaliov

    Ok, I’m really surprised. Two smart people are discussing what’s better: warm or soft. Robert and Lisa, you didn’t state your definitions and arguments at first place and started roaring at each other instead of having a meaningful dialogue (which you eventually reached). Ok, enough of the reprimands.

    Regarding the topic: traditional SEO we all knew about 3-5 years ago is not what it is today. Everything is evolving: technologies, SE algorithms, internet, people’s online behavior, etc. Now SEO incorporates more than just META description and linkbacks. Yes, it’s not only search engine optimization anymore, and we will see terms fusion in the nears future (we have SMO, internet marketing, online presence, community building, etc). I don’t see how Robert or Lisa are wrong – each of them has made a point and supported their niche. This incident reminded me of Linux/Windows or Mac/PC holy wars.

    How about for the next heated discussion we define what everyone is speaking about and think for a bit more? This way we will be able to bring something new ;)

  • Vinny O'Hare

    Wasn’t SEO dead last year or the year before that? Actually SEO just expanded to become Search Engagement Optimization. Basic SEO will live forever as long as there is a search engine ranking system in place.

    This post really made it easier to get over hump day :)

    • Andy

      I’m a relative greenhorn in the SEO field, but several months ago I came to the same conclusion: Search Engine Optimization just doesn’t sum up the nature of what we do.

      New SEO = Strategy, Engagement and Optimization.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Uh, let’s be very clear here. The opening “question” Scoble asks is followed by the opening statement:
    “The writing is on the wall. Small business marketing is moving away from focusing on SEO. Why do I say that? Because, well, Google and Bing are changing the rules so often and are getting so good at figuring out the real businesses that deserve to be on pages. Search Half Moon Bay Sushi and you get real answers from sites that didn’t focus on SEO.”

    Let’s read that again kids – Robert Scoble, for all his claims to the contrary, is telling non-web-savvy business owners that SEO is dying, and in that first paragraph, provides reference to sites that show up WITHOUT substantive SEO. And he goes on right after that to show another example.

    Even though deeper in, he says it’s more complex now, the opening salvos were enough of a problem to be misleading and irresponsible.

    Why? Because most of the people I know who are small business owners, and who are looking to grasp at any straw they can to justify their cash-strapped hope that they don’t need to invest in SEO, would get enough from what I read to jump to the conclusion that Robert Scoble says SEO isn’t important anymore.

    Call them ignorant, stupid, foolish – that’s the reality.

  • Ross Hudgens

    SEO won’t ever die, but it could turn into one of those zombies from 28 Days/Weeks Later and really piss us off.

  • RU Strong

    Do the two of you work together? We all know “controversy” creates hype. In this case it surely did. How will you be able to prove either way? Did the SEO aspect create the ranking or did the Social aspect create the ranking? I assume both.

    If you keep up the battle for another day or two and then make up… You would surely of reached your GOALS. You can then test the strategy is the “battle” more interesting or the “make up (s-x)”?

  • Tommy

    Interesting discussion / debate / whatever. I must say, both of you did a great job of grabbing attention with the headlines of your write ups, so let’s call the debate a draw. You both made some valid points, and it’s quite true that SEO is but one lever we can pull among an assortment of online techniques.

    The most impressive part of this whole thing is that you both took “there’s no such thing as bad PR” to heart. Throw out a zinger, piss people off, and let the abundant clicks start coming. Viral marketing at its best. I’d be very interested in seeing stats on how many unique visitors both of your blogs earned from this one!


  • graywolf

    Hey Robert how about posting that youtube graph that shows if people watched the whole video or bailed somewhere in the middle. It’s under the insights section named “hot spots”

  • gerald

    I totally disagree of him telling SEO is not important. SEO has been existing for more than a decade, and it become searcher’s routine. Believe me, SEO will continue even to improve rather than just be lost.

  • Pamela

    I totally disagree on him saying that SEO is not that important anymore. In fact SEO has been existing for more than a decade. I has become people’s routine. I think he should have said that SEO would even spread wider and gets even stronger rather than insisting it to be gone.

  • affordable website design

    Sorry, but I beg to disagree. SEO is still very essential in establishing links among websites. Most particularly, SEO helps in augmenting the different businesses online. It can never be gone. It will always be a part of one’s daily transaction online.

  • Dave Culbertson

    Love that you call it “Internet Marketing” Lisa. The Internet is the transmission system by which eventually all data will move – web, email, mobile, TV, WiMax. Convergence is slowly happening with the Internet at the hub.

  • Ruth Maude

    I disagree with Robert’s comment above “that SEO is dramatically less important as part of your overall online marketing efforts” and agree with Lisa’s point “SEO now means incorporating a lot of marketing aspects.” You may be interested in my latest blog post “SEO – a straightforward approach to better visibility” . This list of SEO practices to follow is different from what I would have written in the past but SEO is very relevant!

  • Streko

    This. Was. Epic.

    So I guess the dude’s new company is going to go after hubspot? I mean he says their name a few times in the start of the interview. Sounded more like a pitch to VC’s for who they are aiming to gain rev. share off of then the start of an interview.


    • George Revutsky

      Hi Michael –

      Great question. Not sure if we’re really going after them, other than in the broadest sense that we’re trying to help SMBs with marketing. In terms of market share, I don’t think they have too many paying customers of their CMS at this point.

      I drop their name in the video as an example of one honest approach to helping SMBs. You may notice I also drop 2 other names early on, and make no such qualification.


  • Eddie B

    Does the lesson need to be spelled out?
    Link bait = OK
    Link bait that negatively impacts something or someone without facts to back it up = NO NO

    Though it seems that this is not the only lesson Mr Scoble needs to learn…

  • Data Entry Services

    I’m a small business owner that was worried about loosing my client base a couple of years ago so I put my effort into SEO and have not been disappointed. I keep myself and 20 other people in work, through word of mouth and web referral. I wouldn’t listen to anyone that says SEO isn’t important.

  • Jim Rudnick

    wow….what a hoot reading this one…”outspoken” indeed Lisa….

    me? yeah, Robert made some good points in the vid, and yeah the title was somewhat provocative, as they’re’ supposed to be IMHO….

    final thought? yup, gotta think about this “holistic” thingy…and see if it might make sense for my own client roster….all small biz if less than $10m is small as I suspect most would measure co size…



  • Gerald Weber


    I also read Roberts post and it gave me the same impression that you had. Not only did it seems he was saying SEO isn’t important anymore (forget basic fundamentals of SEO) it also seemed to imply that old school SEOs are unable to adapt to changes and business owners just need to get with the new programs and leave old school SEO (SEO basics) behind. I found the post to be quite ridiculous myself.

  • Kikolani

    I think it is important for small business owners who are using SEO companies to make sure that their SEO strategies are changing with the trends. Traditional link building is just not going to cut it anymore – they are going to have to focus more on links embedded in keyword rich content, social media, etc.

    ~ Kristi

    • Gerald Weber


      I agree exactly with what your saying. My contention is that most REAL SEO professionals do adapt and change as the landscape of search changes. However targeted organics SERPs listings is still in my opinion at the foundation of any good online marketing campaign.

  • Oliver

    Ha Ha. Wasn’t scoble the one who was telling people to unfriend twitter followers in order to grow is numbers. LOL! one word : WOW!!!!

  • Bill Drews

    To quote…”Can’t we all just get along?” (humor, btw).

    As a newbie to SEO and SMO, I was pretty amazed to see someone stating what was …well…stated! I can pretty much say, if ANY SMB, or competitor to the entire online marketing media, gets a hold of Mr. Scobie’s article, it will NOT be read for accuracy or as an article to see a “big picture”. It will be either misrepresented, or taken at complete “face value”. I’ve been a sales guy for over 20 years in yellow pages and have literally spoken with 10’s of thousands of SMB owners in my career. They want accurate, honest, compelling, objective information. They want to TRUST someone to give them consultative advice.

    An article like this, will be found, will be printed, and will be used, to further add confusion and skepticism, about everything the internet CAN do for SMBs. SEO, SMO and PPC are all extremely viable, and necessary components for SMBs to use, to further their own business needs.

  • David

    Fascinating post. I loved it. We launched FashionAddict.com.au in August this year and the entire project (from inception) used SEO methods and strategies to gain a wide presence on the search engines as fast as possible. We run a fashion ecommerce site with 5,000 products (soon to be 20K) and we have fashion experts on hand, but no matter how brilliant they are, we needed SEO brilliance and guidance to get PR3 and 7,000 listings in 12 weeks. I watch the sites progress with great interest. Blog writers review our product, not just aussie bloggers, American bloggers & UK bloggers. Google cannot do this, it requires effort from the humans! Same with spots on television, free editorials in magazines and physical word of mouth marketing. It is all very important. Twitter is important. I don’t need to tell people what I’m eating or what mood I’m in on Twitter, No! I use it for sales and specials and I use it sparingly. (I try to be strategic! still have a lot to learn)
    PPC, SEO, Blogging, Advertising, WOM, Networking, its all important if you want to succeed online. I think especially if you are running an online store.
    My greatest revelation of late has been with PPC and discovering (or rediscovering!!) the ultimate and almighty power of Negative Keywords. If you dont use them, you may as well play the slots.
    Thanks for listening,
    David Lithgow
    Fashion Addict – Director

  • SEO Guy

    For the past 6-months I have been working with some small businesses that desperately needed SEO/SEM help and I can state absolutely that it is a must have as part of a healthy marketing mix.

    The statement that you don’t need SEO because the search engines are changing the rules so often does not make sense, you need it more to stay current with those changes.

    I think the title of his post is pure linkbait and will attract many viewers, so…’good job’.

  • Vincent

    Robert (Scoble),
    Why did you say this:
    “SEM should be renamed to “OM” for “Online Marketing””

    What is wrong with ‘Internet Marketing’ which is what everyone else both in your industry and outside of it have called it for years??

  • Nichola Stott

    I’m late to the party and have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said in these comments.

    So, on a seperate note; if a client asks me why they need comments on their blog, I’m going to show them this post. The narrative that unfolds in the comments is such a perfect example of what anyone participating in social media is looking to achieve. Passion, engagement, debate, learning.

    Oh Man. I’m getting all EMO now too.


  • Arnie K

    Nichola, you beat me to it by minutes. I was thinking the same thing, at this point the debate is almost dizzying, and I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. But this IS a great example of a blog bringing out passion and open discussion.

    On second thought, how can I not add my 2 cents. Please just stop with the whole SEO is dead. Why would you ever want to say something as stupid as that? Maybe to sell a book or a course? Other than that I cannot think of a responsible reason for discouraging someone to optimize for search. I am not saying exclusively do SEO, just saying why discourage it at all?

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Semantically speaking Robert’s claim that “SEO is becoming lesss important” is really off the mark. It’s really more that other online marketing efforts are now becoming more important than they previously were, both as relates to how those efforts have become indicators that boost SEO and also as direct engagement becomes yet one more way business owners and customers/prospects directly connect.

    To say that SEO is less important implies that SMBs should focus on social media and if they can’t afford both social media and SEO, that they can skip the SEO. Which all of us here know is a load of steaming dung.

  • Ralph Miller

    Actually, if you read Scoble’s post…he never actually discourages SEO…in fact, I’d go so far as to say he actually encourages it as a part of a much larger and visionary outlook for the future of the web.

    If you haven’t already, take a moment and read Scoble’s article before you comment. There’s a lot of misinformation in this post, and in the comments. And please, don’t just skim it or take other people’s word about what Scoble actual said: http://scobleizer.com/2009/12/16/2010-the-year-seo-isnt-important-anymore/

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Your comment is really why this article and most of these comments are here. You come from a mind-set (as apparently does Robert Scoble) that small business owners are going to take the time to read entire articles, or sit and listen to/watch entire videos. Well, that may be true for the small business owners you know. I’m a small business owner, and most of the people commenting here are, as is Lisa. We, and most of the small business owners I know and have worked with over the past 25 years have too much going on to always read or watch that much, and prefer to skim and take what we can.

    Shoot us for that, but it’s reality. So if YOU want to grasp the ramifications of Robert’s article, I suggest you grasp how most small business owners minds work. Or you and Robert might wish to go sit on another high horse somewhere else.

    Just sayin.

    • Ralph Miller

      I appreciate your viewpoint, and I get it that you don’t have time to read every article or watch every video.

      You speak about me being on some high horse, but what I’m doing is offering a perspective that many people who believe in Web 2.0, and things like authenticity and collaboration are all advocating. In fact, I’d go so far as to say your comment is a perfect example of how Google is making us stupid. Take a moment and skim it when you get the chance and you’ll get what I mean.

      BTW, I checked out your site and you have a broken link at the bottom of the page on searchmarketingwisdom.com. Anchor text is Hey Dude, Where’s My Site? URL is mistyped: http://searchmarketingwisdom.com/://www.HeyDudeWheresMySite.com

      Now aren’t you glad someone takes time to actually participate in a real and genuine way?

      • Alan Bleiweiss


        This really comes down to either acknowledging the masses are power-browsers or they’re not. And either accommodating them or not.

        You, and apparently Scoble, come from a perspective that content online needs to be weighed and measured in totality. Nicholas Carr’s article over at The Atlantic moans and groans via the guise of Taylor’s stopwatch, about how “power browsing” is a bad thing. Well, I’m not here to say it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Only that it exists. And apparently it exists to such huge proportions that Carr wrote such a lengthy article sounding the alarm.

        Yet if that’s true, and I believe it is, in terms of proportion of society, then the opening salvos in Scoble’s article are as detrimental and damaging as I believe.

        Writing in diatribes is only as effective as the proportion of readers who enjoy diatribes. Believe me – I know – I write entire book-length blog articles, as you may have learned upon visiting my blog. Yet even though I write such lengthy works, I also understand that a large enough proportion of my readers are power-browsers.

        So I make sure as often as possible, to encapsulate the core concepts of my message in the first paragraph or two, rather than tossing out misleading trash, under the pretense doing so is acceptable because I reverse position later on in the article.

        As far as your having found that bad link in the footer of my blog, much appreciated.

  • DavidBlizzard

    I am disappointed that Rae joined in the converstaion rather than showing up just long enough to scream “BLOW ME”. That should have been the end to this madness.
    And WTF? Why are there commenter names like “affordable web design” and “data entry services”. That alone is a perfect example of people listening to the wrong “experts”.

    • Eddie B

      Don’t forget that some of the “experts” are self starters who read one piece of information here and there and believe that they are helping themselves by using a keyword-ladden commenter name. They haven’t necessarily payed someone to tell them to do that.

      And I don’t think that anyone at outspoken is interested in ending the madness here. They only have to gain by getting more comments and besides, people should be allowed to expose their POVs, no matter how ignorant or wrong they are.

  • Domenick

    SEO has just been metamorphosing into many things, that some may believe the basic fundamentals of it is not deemed necessary with all the other attributes that I believe are part of the SEO process, like social media. IMO basic on-site/on-page SEO will always be needed, but off-site optimization is just as important and they go hand in hand. SEO, to some may not be as important as in the past, but I believe it is as it all goes together to become one. Time will tell as always, LONG LIVE SEO!

    Good post Ms.Lisa.

  • john andrews

    I’m off to shut down all of my web pages that rank below #3 on their respective search results pages, since now I know that no one ever clicks there. But I want to know from you SEO people, what should I do with all the traffic?

  • The Underground

    [first post]



    The post starts from a position so backward that it’s nothing but pure link-bait. When did online companies that were serious, ever JUST look at SEO.

    WAKE UP and, hold on…..what’s that? do you smell something?

    It’s your PC burning out because it can’t keep track of your rankings, which have just fallen off the planet.

    The Underground.

  • Fab

    Most of this all seems to come down to semantics. LOL.

    Everyone is basically agreeing on the same thing.

    SEO is still important – however, the traditional strategies of SEO alone aren’t enough.

    if we consider the answet to be new forms of SEO including total online marketing then one person is right.

    If we consider answer to be traditional SEO coupled with a total online marketing solution – than the other is right.

    Fundamentally, they are both the same concepts. Just interpreted slightly differently.

    I agree in total – traditional strategies of SEO is finishing up, you can’t do that ‘alone’ if you want the site to compete.

    I also agree that their should be a holistic approach – understading the core purpose of the site and using the appropriate tools to accomodate. Rather then just increasing a rank.

    Funny how responding directly with an opinion and a slur can create something like this.

    You bastids ;)

  • Anonymous

    Wow, this article is great.

    Even if you are dealing with small business or large enterprise, SEO is very important to make your business grow, it makes your business boost its clientele. Take a look to your site if you didn’t promote it, no one will know about your site and of course your business as well. So could you increase your income if no one knows that you exist?

    SEO is the answer for your success, don’t ever ignore it.

    Thanks for your post.

  • Chris Donaldson

    Brilliant! I’m turning this comment thread into an episode of ‘How the World Turns’. Watch for it.

  • Bob

    SEO isn’t going anywhere as long as there is online search. The only thing that evolves are the techniques used for optimization and the effectiveness level of each.

  • Ann

    These Latest Comments are a prime area for Name Based Optimization like this. If you preface each comment with the appropriate text, it’s like a shot of NOS. I know that and I haven’t even been active for a while. Remember the pageoneresults says… episodes? :)

    [Lisa’s note: Ann’s original NBO user name was listed as ‘Ann| link building service’ but I edited it because I really hate when people use my blog to ‘optimize’ for their own names. :)]

  • Robert

    Okay, I’ve very late on this one. Thank goodness for a much deserved break…

    Anyhow. I think a few have already noted that we’re all agreeing on the same thing, but I’ll disagree. I’m not sure exactly what traditional SEO is. So someone please point that out to me. If you’re talking keyword stuffing and hidden text, then okay, I’ll agree, traditional SEO doesn’t work ;)

    Lets face it for as long as I can remember the search engines have been updating their algorithms, thankfully not set in stone (or should that be cement?), constantly trying to provide better answers to our questions. Traditional SEO pretty much has always included a social aspect, even it it required reading something written by someone else offline and giving your $0.02 worth on it. Well at least that’s how I’ve always seen it, then again I’ve tried to avoid the cesspool that is the internet ;)

    I can’t help but agree that Robert Scoble puts SEO in a negative light by starting off the way he does. Sadly here in South Africa bandwidth is terrible (as it is in much of the world), nobody watches video longer than 5min. So, by my reckoning the damage has been done at this point. The point here is that we’ve moved past calling Online Marketing just SEO. This has been the case of quite some time. However, I’m not sure Robert puts gets this across and subsequently has the viewer asking the right questions. What are the right questions? Well that varies, on a good deal many things.

    Lisa, I didn’t see this as a personal attack. But then again I’m pretty thick skinned and say a lot worse things, to people I actually like. I think the title is a fair enough response to the original title: “2010: the year SEO isn’t important anymore?” Don’t forget that this does fall under the Scobleizer banner. I can’t help but feel that the response “Ignore Robert Scoble, SEO Still Matters For SMBs” to be fair enough. Dunce image… comical and hardly the end of the world.

    Many have called the death of SEO, Blogs… bad 80’s hairdo’s, but they continue to survive. But if there is anyone out there that really things that Search Engines and SEO doesn’t matter, I’ve got one thing to say. Here’s a dare:
    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /

    Use it don’t use it. (sorry for the ramble and waffle)

  • Anne Zinta

    WTF… some of the worst comments in response to the article (not including mine :) ..its very basic like 10% of them) because we are not having healthy debate here. Though Robert was somewhat right because no one can ignore emerging SEO (..oh SMO) techniques that complements with Internet marketing aka OM :) but he was thrashed rather badly. Just because he used phony title….uff Bad World this is LOL

  • Anne Zinta

    BTW iamspammer.com is not a site :)

    Thanks for the Game “on” Lisa

  • Rafael Marquez

    SEO is dead, long live SEO! Pretty much sums up my take on all this.

  • Matches Malone

    Two things I don’t think anyone else has brought up yet, or, if they have, I missed it. In any case: 1) The Scobe was able to be the first to comment on this post, which is, well, a bit of paranoia if you ask me, and more importantly, B) Comments on the post in question on his site are closed, whereas here I can comment a month and a half later.

    This to me says it all.

  • Ben Joven

    SEO is very relevant and more important than ever. Personalized search, real-time search and Google Buzz are things that are going to confuse more and more people and proficient strategist are needed more than ever to help navigate through the jungle and clear up the air for small business owners who may be scratching their heads.

  • Mosley

    I agree with a lot of what Lisa says besides anything that has to do with an interpretation of Scoble’s post, I agree with everything that Scoble has to say in his blog post, too.

  • Mayweather

    SEO isn’t going anywhere as long as there is online search. The only thing that evolves are the techniques used for optimization and the effectiveness level of each.

  • Floyd III

    As the time goes by, a lot of people think that SEO is dead. But I believe that it is just so essential for any web site owners, designers and marketers to understand the concept. I think even Cutts said that they just give SEO a much more meaning.

  • Manny

    I agree with everything that Scoble has to say in his blog post, too. Search is changing, and SEOs should take greater strides to being able to provide holistic strategies, rather than simply SEO, as Scoble mentions.

  • Videos

    It really is dangerous if we believe everything we read from the net. In my opinion SEO will never die down. It is the best way as of the moment to determine the results of the search engines..

  • Philippines

    SEO isn’t going anywhere as long as there is online search. The only thing that evolves are the techniques used for optimization and the effectiveness level of each. Google has been very active in explaining about Search/SEO in Youtube through Matt Cutts. It’s very helpful…

  • Internet Business

    Internet business back to SEO when they realize that several of the social media gurus are selling only noise that does not criticize or even to present itself to being followed. Followers and the comments and re-tweets, are great, but there is rarely any evidence of how to translate these sales. When it comes time for me to call a plumber, I’m going to search for images and one near a telephone number. I’m not going to look for Twitter or dodge ball or a friend of nutrition. I do not care what was a plumber for dinner, I just want to work, the toilet so I can take care of my dinner.

  • Jammer

    What are some of the heavy hitters in SEO and which have bad reputation? IF so why? I am looking at starting an online shop for my existing import biz. I dont have a lot for online marketing (5-10k).

  • Doug

    Anyone who believes everything they read or see is nuts. Reality is how you perceive it to be. If you think you know it all in your eyes you do…but others may have a different viewpoint. SEO/SEM/OM, whatever you want to call it does not matter. Until Obama takes control of the internet and Google there will be search.

  • Darius Money

    Seo For Small business will never die out.. Seo is pretty much the only way to separate small businesses from each other. If done right it can also help small business owners compete with some of the big companies in the industry.

  • Ken

    When a baseball player strikes out, he doesn’t walk back to the dugout and claim success because he has ‘stimulated conversation.’ That’s really all comments on blogs are turning into. bleh.