Is SEO really worth it in 2022?
The answer essentially falls into the 3 categories of being a firm Yes, a firm No, and then the grey misty middle ground of Maybe (as in partially needed)!
So what is SEO?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and essentially consists of a process whereby your website is overhauled to include words in certain locations within the site, or terminology, that will help robots read your site, and using the info it reads, catalog your website in a directory, where it can list you in results when members of the public search keywords that you are categorized for.
Think of SEO as your local librarian cataloging a book, and putting it on the shelf in your local library.
Back in the day, if you wanted to find a book, you’d ask the librarian (Google), where to find books (Websites) on a specific topic (keywords).
The librarian would suggest a number of books (results) and where to find them on the shelves (clicking on each of the results to view the website).
How has the need for SEO changed?
20/30 odd years ago, if you wanted to get your website found, the number of competing websites was minimal, and putting a search term into an engine (Remember Ask Jeeves or WebCrawler or Yahoo) would often generate results that would allow a small business owner to have their website found. With reasonable effort came reasonable results.
Combining this with our human engagement and interaction, we used to be happy to surf to the second/third page of results. BUT… in 2022 we are now much more impatient and if the result isn’t listed on the first page, we are more likely to try a different variation of our search term, than to surf to page 2 or 3 of results.
Then there is the fact that 20/30 years ago social media hadn’t been invented yet, so was unable to push traffic to your website from these sources, and “business directories” were few and far between. Essentially you found a website by knowing it existed and typing in the URL (eg you saw it on a business card) or you found the site via a search.
So SEO was incredibly important.
Without it, it was like building a ship on dry land, and wondering why it cannot sail!
But that was 20/30 years ago!
What is the job of Search Engines?
Remember, the core task that SEO performs is to drive traffic to your website, nothing more, nothing less!
And in 2022, we’ve other means to drive traffic to websites and other marketing strategies to engage our consumers via chat services, social media platforms, and more.
So is SEO still needed in 2022?
Our argument for YES
Let’s say for example you are a small business owner running a bricks ‘n’ mortar service, like a hairdresser, or a coffee shop.
The chances are, that people looking for your services will understand and know you (as the supplier), and will need to be located within a certain distance from themselves.
So, a search term will usually follow a place name.
In these types of situations, YES, SEO is highly powerful, meaningful, and useful to you.
EG. Coffee Shop Chichester, or Children’s Hairdresser Milton Keynes.
Google will still reply with millions of results, but the first page of answers will be concentrated to exactly what you are looking for, in the location you are wanting to receive the service/experience.
This type of SEO is known as SEO localization and is a must for anyone whose business operates within a physical geographical constraint.
Our Argument for NO
However, as a small business to business professional ourselves, our director Angela McCall literally started out 25 years ago as a freelancer, working for clients in the UK, whilst she backpacked around the globe. Back then it was a case of using MSN Messager even before the likes of Skype was launched.
(This style of working later became known as being a technomad.)
So what does this have to do with SEO?
As these services can be delivered via video calls, emails, digital purchase/training, and such it matters not if the person receiving the service is in the room next door, or on the other side of the planet. So long as they speak your language, are a good fit for your business ethos and strategy, and have a suitable/stable internet connection, then the world literally is your oyster!
That is why we literally tell our B2B service provider clients not to pay for SEO specialists to optimize their site.
Doing so makes them believe they have a chance of winning traffic for their specific services via this means and the time, energy, and cost involved in trying to win those all-important first-page results is near impossible given the global audience you are in competition with. And even if you do achieve marginal success, Google is prone to changing their algorithm at a moment’s notice, and what once gaining you traction can be literally halted overnight… all the time money, and energy wasted.
But, SEO still needs to be performed by all websites that launch.
However, the grey middle ground of partially needing to optimize your website is still very important.
The art of optimizing your site also determines “how” you are presented in result listings. So it may be a struggle to gain traffic from keywords on services that you offer, but your business name, directors/owner’s name, etc may well yield results. For example, if you meet a person at a small expo or networking event and promise to check them out later, but you lose their business card/leaflet, all you can remember is their business name!
In these scenarios, there is a high possibility that someone Googling your business name will find your website in the first page of results, so long as you still dutifully conducted the basics of SEO optimization tasks on your website.
If you’ve not spent any time optimizing your site, then your business name will not be presented in enough locations for the search engine bots that crawl/read your site to locate and pick up on. If they can not identify your site with your business name, they won’t be able to rank it in their directories and even with something as laser precision focused as a search on your business name, will fail to deliver your website to your audience.
The listing itself on the page of results carries lots of different bits of information, that need to be optimized from the meta description to the page titles and more.
So is SEO worth paying for?
If you are a B2B service provider, our answer is no. You would be far better off running a powerful advertising campaign on social media platforms that you can turn off and on again within minutes of launching. Allowing you to control your audience and traffic generation strategies.
For any business with a local catchment area of prospective clients, customers, or consumers, who are likely to search for your business plus add a location name. The answer is most definitely.
Otherwise, no. Don’t pay for SEO results.
Do the basics to ensure you are professionally presented and listed on the off chance someone does search your business name and spend your money on other far more controllable, instantaneous, and result-yielding methods by which to generate traffic to your website.
As a business, we target, and focus UK based B2B industry service, providers.
For us, and them, paying for SEO is 100% waste of our time money, and expertise, covering the basics with tools like Yoast SEO is all that a website needs to do, to ensure its visible presentation looks professional when found in results yielded by searches on the business name only.