Why Small Businesses Fear SEO

June 21, 2010  |   Analytics,Entrepreneurship   |   3 Comments

Why does fear exist?  A great definition of fear that I found is “to be afraid or feel anxious or apprehensive about a possible or probable situation or event”.  Hmm…sounds to me like fear is basically an extension of the unknown.  In my experience, many small business owners seem to have an acute fear of SEO or online marketing in general.  I think this fear is stemmed from the fact that they just don’t understand SEO and who can blame them?  After all, the search engines are always changing around their algorithm and there is an endless list of folks who claim to know SEO, but typically regurgitate what they heard from somebody else incorrectly.  Let’s investigate these two issues a little more in detail.


I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in mathematics & physics.  I’m by no means an expert in quantum physics, but SEO isn’t so different from it.  Let me explain it in layman’s terms (as best as I can).  New discoveries are made, new technologies invented, and new theories are created at a rate that is ridiculous and almost impossible to keep up with.  The SEO industry is always changing and is very hard to keep up with unless you do it full-time.  The reason it’s hard to get a consistent answer from every SEO consultant when you ask, “So how do you get better rankings?” is because those strategies that work best today will more than likely be obsolete within months.

Now don’t get me wrong because there are those principles of SEO that will likely never change, such as good content and quality inbound links.

Here’s one example so you get a good idea of what I’m talking about.  Roughly 2-5 years ago, reciprocal link exchanges worked well.  The search engines seemed to care more about quantity than quality.  Today is a completely different ball game as quality is the new quantity and vice versa.  Quality links can never harm your website rankings.  However, quantity links can incur some harmful effects if there is no relevancy of the link or if they’re from a site that the search engines have deemed as black-listed.

Here’s another example just so you know I’m not kidding.  When people realized you could tweak the content and meta tags of a website to influence search engine placement, the meta keywords tag quickly became a short-lived commodity.  Webmasters would cram these meta tags with all different variations of their keywords and it actually worked.  You saw Viagra sites ranking for just about anything.  Then along came Google and washed the crap away.  Today, the meta keywords tag is about as useless as a bird with no wings.  The only real benefit I’ve been able to come across with this tag is for internal search engine purposes.

That’s the excitement and the terror in dealing with search engines.  They’ll always keep you on your toes.  This means that only those companies who employ a long-term, maintained strategy will win in this arena…a good reason why I believe every small business owner should at least learn the fundamentals of SEO rather than paying a consultant.  Even those small businesses late to the party can acquire those coveted first page listings for some of the most competitive keywords.


If you’ve ever received a cold call from a high-pressure salesman pitching the benefits of SEO and promising you top ten listings, you can almost guarantee you’re speaking with someone who is confident only because they are going to cheat your website to the top of the search engines.  If you’ve ever received a random email making the same promises of guaranteed top ten listings on all major search engines, chances are it’s a SEO scam.  Even the SEO industry leaders confidently admit that they are always learning about this industry.

One of the biggest issues I have seen over and over again in this industry has been the sudden rise of so many overnight “SEO experts” who only seem to be good at regurgitating what they read from the countless blogs regarding this unique marketing channel.  Since Google’s algorithm accounts roughly for 70-80% (based on some of the testing I’ve done) on your inbound links, I believe a good SEO consultant is not one who can tell you what tags to change and what directories to submit to, but rather based on the quality and quantity of links they can build.


When we see that most of the fear and doubt towards SEO is from its ever-changing practices and some dubious practitioners who have given it a bad name, we see that to overcome much of this is simply a matter of education.  By gasping the fundamentals of SEO (which will likely never change) and knowing which methods to always steer clear of, you can bet your lucky stars & stripes that your efforts will not go to waste.  Once you’ve decided on pursuing SEO for your company, your next step in alleviating any fears is to set clear SEO campaign goals.

  • What quantifiable traffic targets you’d like to hit
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Higher conversion = Increased sales
  • Etc

I hope this helps you make a more informed decision if SEO is something you’ve been meaning to get involved with.

About the author

Maximus Kang is the Director of SEO Strategy & Founder of Ranking Channel, a Seattle-based SEO consulting agency. With enterprise level experience at Expedia and agency experience at Optify, his SEO knowledge covers a wide spectrum. He also started his very . Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.

New to SEO? You can learn How to Win Users & Influence Google.


3 Comments for this entry

  • Currency

    November 26th, 2010 on 1:14 AM

    Now don’t get me wrong because there are those principles of SEO that will likely never change, such as good content and quality inbound links.–I agree,and the good content and quality inbound links need more patience.