Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a niche that has steadily gained attention over the years, especially among senior executives. In a nutshell, SEO is all about tweaking one's website to feature more prominently within the search results from search engines. (You can also check out my post "A Simple SMB Guide to SEO.")
I recently had the opportunity to pose a number of questions to an SEO expert. David Mill is a veteran in the online publishing industry who has operated the online marketing agency MediaCo in the UK since 1999. You can find the full interview here.
I was very curious about the importance of SEO for small and mid-sized businesses. After all, there are probably much better ways for SMBs to invest their limited resources, right?
Mill pointed out that businesses of all sizes stand to benefit from search engine optimization. When quizzed whether there is a minimum "cutoff" point at which SEO will start to yield diminishing returns, as in the case of smaller businesses, Mill wrote:
In fact, if their websites appear higher in the results, it can help small and mid-sized businesses compete with larger ones. The return on investment in SEO is ongoing and will actually increase as more people use search engines to source products and services.
So while I would caution companies against betting their entire marketing and publicity budget on SEO and sprucing up their websites, the truth is that properly directed investments in this direction can better position smaller companies to compete.
As someone who frequently has the opportunity to communicate with companies launching new products or services around the world, I can say with certainty that appearances can be deceiving. I have come across more than one company that I eventually found to be much smaller than I thought. Looking back, I realized that my initial impressions were often formed with a tastefully designed website - and one that ranks high in Web searches.
Unfortunately, research from as recent last year has shown that SMBs are not taking to the Web, much less attempting to optimize it. Perhaps it is time that SMBs pay more attention to this area and use SEO to better compete with larger companies.