Working with clients in a dozen industries we've seen firsthand how strategic, persistent search engine optimization (SEO) provides a clear competitive advantage for businesses of all sizes. First, in the form of search visibility and second, by providing that targeted visibility at a lower cost than than by other means.
This point what just reinforced by a March 8 article in Bloomberg titled, "Google Search Dominance Has Businesses Paying for Their Name". The article points out that Google's share of the search market gives them potentially damaging power in the area of branded keywords, where a company's competitors can bid on the company's name, to show up above them in search.
Google's guidelines allow this, so a company may need to bid on its own brand to be listed above its competitors. One business owner quoted in the article said "You have to buy the ads every day." He said they tried not buying Google search ads for their business and the slot was immediately purchased by other businesses. He added that they "had to bid more to get back on there after we stopped."
This is where consistent SEO work can help a business insure they will show up prominently in organic search. (Organic results are shown below paid ads, but many consumers prefer and trust organic results more.)
Our experience over the last 20 years is that SEO continues to be an important tool in the online marketers toolbox that should not be neglected. Properly implemented it has long-term value and is a natural compliment to PR, paid (Adwords) ads, email, video and social media.
Contrary to popular opinion SEO isn't about "fooling" Google; it's about organizing and presenting content to help Google serve their customers with the best information to answer whatever they're searching for.
SEO isn't easy; dozens of variables are involved. But done right, in the context of a well crafted online marketing strategy, it provides a competitive advantage that will pay dividends now, and well into the future. In our experience, SEO is now more important, and more strategic, than ever.