For quite some time now there have been pundits who have declared traditional SEO dead. The fact is that if you Google the question “Is SEO dead” it will give you over 30 million references, making you completely unsure of the true status of SEO.

According to Sam McRoberts, a widely published expert in the field of SEO, “SEO is far from dead.” But he goes on to state “it has changed so drastically that people need to think of it as less of a marketing tactic and more of a branding play”.

Now that may be too much of a shift for many in the field to agree, but the vast majority do agree that SEO is not dead. Given that the bigger search engines are constantly investing in getting newer algorithms.

In a world where search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are compelled to show good earnings, the pressure to put PPC over organic search is always high.

But there are several reasons small and medium businesses should invest in organic SEO. Not only that, you can leverage SEO to take on some of the giants that seem to dominate business. A recent article from Steve Olenski appearing in the Forbes magazine gave the following reasons for investing in SEO.

  1. It still works– First and foremost, the techniques employed to improve SEO still work. Plenty of SEO case studies performed post-Hummingbird can verify this.
  2. It is not going to stop working any time soon– Based on the way search engines appear to be developing, it is not likely that SEO will cease to be effective any time in the foreseeable future. On some level, even audio and video searches ultimately depend on keywords the same as traditional text-based content; this link ensures the continued success of SEO techniques as long as it exists.
  3. It is cost-effective– Compared to the costs associated with other forms of online marketing such as PPC advertising, social media marketing, or purchasing leads for an email marketing program, SEO provides fairly good ROI. While PPC may drive more revenue and social media may be more important for your image, your organic SEO in many ways remains a bedrock of your online presence.
  4. Search engines grabbing more market share– Somewhere between 80-90% of customers now check online reviews prior to making a purchase, and this number is only expected to increase. It won’t be long before virtually everyone is searching for products and services online. Do you want them to be able to locate your business, or not?  Without organic SEO in place, people will have a very hard time finding you and will instead find your competitors.
  5. Rise of mobile bandwidth and local search optimization– The amount of traffic delivered to mobile devices is expected to exceed that delivered to traditional desktop devices. With this dramatic explosion in mobile usage, a whole new world of effective SEO techniques have opened up for companies, such as local search optimization.
  6. Not having a healthy content profile is damaging– With each and every update to its search algorithm, Google and other engines change the way they look at websites. Things which didn’t exist a few years ago, such as social media indicators, are now given fairly high importance in terms of their impact on your rankings. Not building a healthy content profile spread out months and years is potentially damaging to your business, as it is one of the factors Google evaluates when looking at your site.
  7. Your competitors are doing it– “Remember, SEO is a never-ending process,” says Jason Bayless, Owner of com, a website which tracks and ranks the efficacy and service of many of the nation’s leading SEO providers. “If you’re not moving forward and improving your position, you’re losing ground to a competitor who is. That’s a simple fact of how the process works.”  Don’t let your competitors out maneuver you by ignoring this valuable tool for your business.

In another article, Jayson Demers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, has provided 5 good ways in which small and medium businesses can use SEO to compete with bigger companies.

  1. Specialize in a niche: if you’re trying to take down your biggest competitors, it’s better to take more of a niche focus. Having several areas of specialization gives you relevance for a wide range of keywords, but your relevance for each of them is somewhat low. If you pour all your effort into one or a small handful of keywords, you’ll be able to achieve a much higher visibility.
  2. Engage in a long-tail keyword strategy: Long-tail keywords are extended phrases Google looks for. Ranking highly for long-tail keywords is much easier than ranking high for shorter keywords, so even though they bring in less traffic, they’re still more valuable for small businesses to go after. With long-tail keywords, you could be sacrificing minimal ranking potential with highly popular keywords for maximum ranking potential with less popular keywords.
  3. Leverage locality for optimization: This is key for small and medium businesses with limited reach. Local search is becoming more relevant and more important, so in today’s context, being the best barber shop in your local area is far better than being an OK barber shop on a national scale.
  4. Personalize your social engagement: You can also increase your chances of overcoming steep competition by stepping up the “personal” factor in your brand strategy.Nurture your following on social media, and you’ll attract more posts and followers, and the bigger and more active your social-media presence is, the higher you’ll rank in Google. This is something that large companies do not do well, despite having a social media team handling their affairs.
  5. Become a recognized and authoritative content publisher: Building brand awareness, loyalty, trust and credibility requires frequent and quality content publication.The keys to building your brand through a content strategy are quality and consistency. Maximize the reach of each piece of content you publish to maximize your return on investment, and be consistent with your publication schedule so you start to become recognized as a dependable authority.

Your business definitely needs to have an SEO strategy in place if you are interested in succeeding in terms of online marketing. There’s no shortcut to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a massive competitor lingering on the scene. But with a strategy that leverages your geographic location and your agility, you can selectively overcome your competitors in specific key areas.