Posted July 25, 2007 11:22 pm by with 19 comments

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That’s because real businesses have real business models. So much of the web has been created by throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. Only then do many entrepreneurs mold a business model around a website and most of the time unsuccessfully.

As the Internet grows into it’s teenage years, much as with real children, we see it starting to comprehend economic logic. Making money costs money. The majority of successful businesses around the world are built on the foundation of ROI (return on investment) not ROTSBFC (return on time spent building free customers).

Don’t get me wrong, the days of home based pocket change startups aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But unfortunately the percentage of those ventures that succeed is rapidly shrinking due to business people with investment capital entering the market online.

David Naylor made a post about a client who was penalized in Google and had decided to cut his losses and concentrate on PPC including Yahoo and MSN as PPC sources.

Most of the comments on Naylor’s blog and people I have discussed this post with seem to be of the opinion that the client should bow down and ask for forgiveness. Organic Google traffic is needed too much to survive without it. I completely disagree. Not knowing the specifics, this sounds like a business person with a real business model that understands the principal of ROI. He does not expect a return without there first being an investment. He does not “need” SEO. Neither does any business that understands and is built on true business principals.

If your business is built upon the principal of a transaction costs me X to acquire and said transaction is worth Z in the bank, then SEO is nothing more than gravy. SEO is one of the most profitable bowls of gravy anyone will ever encounter. Any business that does not recognize this is blind. If nothing else the organic profits can be used to prop up the advertising budget of the business.

Calacanis is wrong. SEO is not B.S., but it is unnecessary. Unnecessary , but VERY profitable!

P.S. I am not stalking David Naylor even if the my recent posts seem to indicate otherwise. Maybe you other bloggers out there need to post something interesting enough to actually take note of. 😉

  • It is said that a good business will have their consumers type directly the site address on the browser window, not Google it (i.e. eBay). But a little organic doesn’t kill anyone! 😀

  • Businesses do need SEO they just don’t need to be stupid about it and rely SOLELY on google for their profits. There are so many channels to market your product across the web today it is silly to sit back, reap the rewards from organic traffic, and not look elsewhere for a solid ROI.

  • Its funny how some businesses think that once they incorporate basic SEO they can just sit back and watch the money roll in.

    SEO is not the end all be all, but it is a very effective aspect of the overall business plan.

  • Mike

    I agree with Brian Chappell. SEO should be part of an overall strategy that includes PPC. At the end of the day, your Return on Investment is the “endgame” for any business. However, to declare SEO unnecessary is improper in my opinion. Perhaps there is a semantical difference in our definitions of SEO. I consider viral marketing and link baiting at part of the overall SEO package.

    PPC advertising is expensive, and contraction through acquisition in the marketplace combined with increasing competition is only going to raise the prices and lower ROI on PPC campaigns. Oragnic searches should be a component to any online business model. However, if should not be the only component.


  • I’m not sure what the gist of the article is.

    No amount of SEO will save a bad business. But a Good Business, will (by definition) pursue the correct strategies and execute the correct tactics to acquire and retain customers in the long, medium and short term.

    If that strategy/tactic includes SEO or not is part of the “Good Business” decision that needs to be made. Likewise, for any other sales, marketing and PR channel.

  • Or to get straight to the point: Is SEO so hot nowadays that we have to remind ourselves of business basics and that SEO is not a magical elixir that solves business models?

    I’ve told some business folks that they dont need SEO because of their need for say a targeted audience (C-level execs), etc. I’m not going to lie about it; we’re not here to steal money (I know many feel otherwise about marters), marketers are here to help businesses grow.

  • rick gregory

    Hmmm thought the site had been hacked for a while…

    Silly article – all assertion, no case study or evidence. The proper way to think about this is

    1) Does the business need a site AT ALL? If so, why? You may want a site that is mostly a way for people in your local market to find your single store – or you might sell your entire inventory from the site and be looking to expand your reach beyond your local market.

    2) Build the site with those goals in mind.

    3) Use your answer to #1 determine traffic generation tactics (and of course to have determined the site design and copy).

    4) Analyze, test and refine if the site is an important component of driving traffic to your store or if you sell from it. If it’s just a brochure site (and you WANT it that way after due analyis), just make sure it’s up.

  • I disagree with the idea that legitimate businesses have to pay to acquire customers. I also disagree that focusing entirely on SEO is not a “real business strategy.” While diversification is a noble goal, my company is living proof that SEO is a winning strategy in itself.

    The biggest misconception out there about SEO is that it generates free traffic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. That used to be the case, but SEO in today’s world is quickly becoming more and more expensive.

    The “throw mud against the wall and see what sticks” business model is good when it works, and it definitely worked for us. However, it is becoming infeasible, and that is why in recent years, our strategy has had to change to a more traditional “build a brand” approach. I cannot claim that we are all of a sudden more legitimate–we simply adapted our strategy to the market change.

  • @Brian – I would call that more “wanting” SEO. There is a big difference between needing it to survive and wanting it to prosper. As I state in the article, any business owner would have to be blind to not see the benefits of SEO and want to participate.

    @Mike – I don’t consider SMO, viral marketing, ect as part of SEO. They have an after affect that helps SEO and that is why so many SEOs are getting in SMO but if you are using SMO just for links for SEO purposes you are ignoring 80% of SMOs benefit.

    @Rick – I have multiple SEO clients who is they did not receive a single click from Google would have no problems remaining profitable and in business. I can’t talk directly about my own client specifics but I can give you a public example of an online business that is successful without SEO. They are growing like a rocket and I don’t think that success came because of SEO. It came from proper investment capital, good business plan, and an owner who knows how to market himself and his offerings and has spent the time to build relationships that make it all possible. If AuctionAds never received a click of traffic from any organic search engine, nothing would change for them. Also was penalized in Google and his traffic keeps going up. He is not defendant on organic traffic either.

    @Greg – Glad to hear you are making a transition. This was sort of the point of the article. I want people to look at their business model and ask themselves if they could stay profitable and even prosper without one single click from organic search engines. If not, then it’s time to consider making some massive changes to their business plan. Most people will swear up and down there is no way for them to get banned from the search engines cause they are squeaky clean but search engines are fickle. Squeaky clean websites can and do disappear from the search engines all the time. Anyone can be next.

  • SEO is more necessary than ever, considering the enormous number of online businesses that have come into playing field. You don’t have to have a big marketing budget to perform the most basic SEO tactics. Anyone can optimize a site to improve ranking and traffic, but if you don’t have the time and knowledge to effectively perform SEO, consult with an SEO firm.

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  • To get cheaper SEO firm, Look for a company or hire an individual who has a very competent and capability for optimizing your website. Countries like Philippines have a considerable low cost on SEO. Listen and ask their methods in doing their work. The important thing is constancy of testing, link building, and optimizing. These will bring about your target ranking at the most reasonable price.

  • Yes is true business don’t need SEO and don’t need Google.If this morning you go to the market and you don’t find your best place cause your competitor take the place you don’t need to be in the market too!

  • Twenty years ago my firm (an accountancy practice) could survive by reputation alone. Ten years ago people realised that the market was no longer coming to us and we had to employ traditional marketing to win business. In the current environment, you also need an internet presence and that would be pointless without SEO.

  • I didn’t really understand the Gist either?

    Need, don’t need?…..

    I think any business that gets quality SEO advice from the get go, is far more likely to thrive than one that doesnt.

    I think in the near future we will see a lot of business fall, because they have the wrong search marketing vision.


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