“Mobile, video, social, SEO,” blah blah blah. These are some of the big industry words that all businesses hear when it comes to their online marketing and advertising strategies. SEO, Search Engine Optimization, in particular, is an omnipresent hot topic. The old “everybody’s doing it” cliche is alive and well here, and conversely, if you aren’t doing it, you’re a dinosaur. For the poor souls out there trying to sell SEO, many objections, mostly of the non-usual variety, surface. For small-medium sized businesses, the concept of SEO may either seem unimportant (the “I have a guy” excuse), or completely foreign.

For clarity sake, let’s look at what SEO is: Simply put, it’s the work that goes in to your website to make it more visible to search engines. Examining the concept closer, it’s no longer enough to just have a website. Keywords have to be written into the site, quality links need to be created, and both on-site and off-site content must be optimized continually, in order to keep up with Google’s always changing algorithms and thus making your site popular in search results.

With this concept comes many concerns and objections from businesses on why they don’t want to bother with an SEO campaign. But let’s be very straightforward here, and examine some of the greatest hits from the anti-SEO crowd:

What is SEO and when should I look to start doing this?

If you’re asking one or both of these questions, you’re too late, sorry. By the time you, as a business, look into launching an SEO campaign, there is a great chance that your competitors already have. And that means your customers are finding them, not you. The best time to start an SEO campaign was before today.

I’m doing paid search. I don’t need SEO.

Great! You obviously see the importance of ranking high. But you’re doing it wrong. SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is essentially paying Google for the top spots in search. But it’s much more akin to renting an apartment (and a non-rent controlled one at that) vs. owning a house. Basically, to be blunt, it’s a pissing contest. If your competitors get a whiff of this scheme, and they happen to have a bigger budget, then guess what? They can out-bid you for that spot and force you to spend even more money to be visible! Worse yet, you always have the little orange “AD” box next to your business name in search, which instantly scares most people away. The vast majority of clicks come from the organic search results, and the top 3-4 listings in particular, and that’s not what SEM will get you. An SEM campaign in conjuncton with SEO is sound and wise. SEM in pace of SEO? No. This is particularly fruitless if the business bids on it’s own name (yes, I’ve seen it.)

I don’t need to advertise right now.

SEO is not advertising. It’s a marketing service. Actually, it should be a business expense. It’s not something you can exactly see, like an ad(s), but it is constantly working in the background 24/7. It’s a long-term campaign that will generate more web traffic, more phone calls, and thus, more business for you. With advertising, you can pick and choose your battles. With SEO, you’re always armed and ready.

My web team/coworker/guy/nephew’s cousin’s uncle’s former roomate is doing all that.

Awesome. Is he/are they doing it properly? Are you being supplied with quality backlinks and offsite content? Are they focusing on a good keyword strategy in a geography that isn’t too competitive in your industry so that you’ll be within your budget and start ranking high in search? Are the practices being used in-line with Google’s algorithms and what they are currently emphasizing? If you’re unsure about how to answer any of the above, you might want to re-examine exactly what “your guy” is doing.

If the preceding paragraphs came off as too honest, or even harsh, it’s because SEO is that important. Moreover, it’s importance lies in not only doing it, but doing it right.

Kevin is an award-winning Digial Marketing Specialist in the Chicago area. Twitter: @ktredbirds