In a recent article, we looked at two distinct marketing strategies that companies can pursue that don't involve any form of conscious search engine optimization.
Although that kind of thinking probably isn't all that useful to most businesses, and certainly not the ones we tend to work with, it does lead to an interesting question: Could a company that's already getting search traffic be better off ignoring Google?
To put this in a more reasonable and realistic light, the issue is whether a business could become more profitable by employing direct marketing strategies and building a strong reputation, rather than worrying about keywords, search positions, etc.
Finding the answer requires us to think through a few things. After all, there are a few advantages to being completely unreliant on search engine traffic:
1. You face less competition off-line.
By trying to reach buyers consistently before they turn to Google (through direct telemarketing, print advertising, and e-mail campaigns, for example), you could potentially get customers into the sales cycle before they research your competitors. That means fewer competitors for you, especially if you had taken our advice in the other article and built a strong reputation. After all, having customers come directly to you is the ultimate advantage in the marketplace.
2. It makes your business more resilient.
Online forums are filled with angry business owners, marketers, and executives who feel like Google suddenly "pulled the rug" from under their companies with one algorithm change or another. If you were to ignore search engine optimization completely, then you would be more or less immune to these types of swings, which would make your company's revenue more stable and predictable than it might be otherwise.
3. It would allow you to focus your marketing messages in the right direction.
Besides, you can still enjoy these benefits and have your cake, too. The trick isn't to abandon SEO, but to be more targeted in your approach. That is, know more about your customers, their preferred search terms, and when they turn to search engines in their sales cycle. By doing the hard work of analyzing these factors, you make it possible to focus on a much smaller field of terms and phrases, using them as a natural part of your overall effort.
In other words, if you use search marketing wisely, there isn't any reason that your campaigns on Google and elsewhere can't play nicely with your other customer-acquisition strategies. Doing the right things always tends to pay off, in this business or any other, and the effects of one good effort are only enhanced by the others – customers move from print advertising to the web, from review sites to Google, back and forth over and over again until you have a solid group of customers to rely on.
Or, to put things in simpler terms, search engine optimization is almost always worth it as an online marketing priority, but it should probably never be the priority.