By Annie Ellicott

That was the question posed by Ken Krogue in his July 2012 post in Forbes “The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content” which stirred up so much controversy among marketers this July. Actually, I take that back. It wasn’t a question, he made a statement and semantics aside, he struck a nerve in the SEO world.

Krogue’s thesis is that active social media engagement, good public relations and delivery of “real” content (is there “unreal” content, where?) is what will increasingly drive traffic in the online world vs “SEO”. Hmmm.

There’s no question that in the last 2 years, search engine optimization has changed radically. Between the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, the shift in power to social signals in search ranking and the rising chatter in social media land, it’s an evolving landscape of technical terror for many. But I like many of my colleagues would never declare SEO “dead”. A great comment to Krogue’s post by Steve Wiideman noted:

“SEO isn’t dead, it’s just gotten more expensive. The resources for social media, PR and making a better product are not within the financial means of 90% of most businesses. Without giving purposeful attention to search signals and user experience (part of the ranking algorithm) many businesses would not just drop in rank for critical keywords, but would go out of business altogether. Thank God some less expensive content strategies still exist.”

Touche Steve! Well said. I couldn’t agree more. Search optimization remains “optimizing your content for better indexing by the search engines”. It’s just the mechanisms now are broader, the channels wider and the technical requirements, steeper to accomplishing this now versus yesterday. This has made SEO more time consuming but not any less important.

So how does a small business owner meet the new time and financial challenges of content optimization in 2013 and beyond?

  • If you don’t have a content strategy…get one. Set up a hub and start publishing. The years of experience you have in your head just needs to be channeled out on to the airwaves. A great example…Ana White’s blog. 3mm pageviews a month brought to you from a mom in rural Alaska. Simply awesome.
  • And stop trying to do everything yourself and get some help:
    • Enlist your clients as brand ambassadors. Put a system in place to motivate them to be social on your behalf. Survey them about their interests. Ask them questions and make it easy for them to share their stories, their photo’s, their videos.
    • Hire someone to help you feed the social media beast. Allocate dollars just as you did to figuring out SEO in 2000, building a website in 1994, buying a PC in 1978…
    • Put an expert on a small monthly retainer to stay on top of the changing technical requirements of marketing today including optimizing content and staying on top of the latest and greatest online tools, apps and trends.

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