Ignore Robert Scoble, SEO Still Matters For SMBs

December 16, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Small Business Marketing

It’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.

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