Why Your Business Needs SEO (& Why It Might Not)

Do you ever have those moments when you almost physically feel the light go on in your head? You don’t find yourself in a new room with a ton of new discoveries, but one darker corner of your room is suddenly illuminated and the new perspective shifts how you view everything in the room. Yes, that was me this past week. And it was during a mastermind call where someone asked why your business needs SEO.

Everyone has a truth to share with you.

But before I tell you all about what that illumination was specifically, I want to talk about a truth I’ve found as a business owner. Everyone wants to tell you the right way to do something. Everyone swears by a particular way / path / thought / principle / product / formula that has been the ONE thing that’s brought them success that you must try if you too, want success.

You can’t browse Instagram or Twitter without hearing the chatter. Or attend a networking meeting. Or search for a solution to the problem you want to solve. Whether it’s a philosophy, political view, product, or the way to deliciously mash together Oreos and mayonnaise (thanks, John Scalzi, but no thanks), we’re all constantly spouting our perspectives. We live out our beliefs in front of others. And most of us have a conviction that our way just might be the best way, so we share, hoping others will enjoy success as well. 

Let me be clear — most of the recommendations I see are well-meaning. We women recommend things all the time. This mascara brand, that recipe, this technique for getting your baby to sleep. From the greatest restaurant for a good Reuben sandwich to that hidden thrift store that always seems to have vintage pyrex, we share because we’re human and that’s how we live in community together. It’s wonderful.

SEO is a powerful tool that can lead to outstanding business success.

I’m an SEO specialist and truly believe in SEO’s power to grow a business and increase your influence. (I’ve written all about it here.) Research shows that it’s by far the best investment over the long haul for your marketing dollars. SEO converts a far greater number of people than any paid ads. It just works and can deliver leads for years and years. So should every business invest in SEO? Yes, if they’re serious about their business!

I mean, isn’t that the purpose of owning a business? To increase your client load and increase sales? To raise your quality of life as you shoot for a particular earning goal? Or build a team under you so you rely on them to do the work so you can pursue another income stream. Or at least draw in a higher paying clientele so you can work less and still enjoy the same income level. 

At least that’s what I thought was true for everyone until I suddenly I knew it was not.

It all comes down to goals. As I shifted my business model to specialize in SEO for women entrepreneurs, I had to ask myself about my personal goals. What was I really trying to do? Not in an income capacity or time capacity, but in a “how do I want this business to change me and change the world” way. That’s one mighty big goal. An audacious goal. But it was one I had to define before I could really go after it.

I ask every single one of my clients this same question. What’s your audacious goal with your business? We talk about it and explore what their answer means to them. And then make a step-by-step plan to get there with messaging and SEO strategy. This conversation and strategy ensures that we’re headed toward their goal every single month in a trackable fashion. 

SEO isn’t for everyone.

Now back to my lightbulb moment. In the middle of a mastermind call, heard one woman’s particular goal and suddenly realized that SEO was not what she needed. Not just that, but that SEO might never be what she needs. 

I’ll be honest, I’ve had to sit with that all week. Sort through it, sift through it, look at all the layers, and embrace the truth of it. And ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out how to adjust my own messaging so this bit of truth is not left out.

I hear you ask now, “But Amy, isn’t that doing your own business a disservice, to tell people they don’t need what you offer or what you so passionately believe in?” On the surface, yes. But down in the depths of who I am, I know I would never forgive myself if I charged a client for something they didn’t need.

If I’m pursuing my own audacious goal, selling SEO to every single woman who asks for it would almost kill me. 

I’m still sorting through all that. But this woman had a very clear goal: to serve just a handful of clients each month and to do deep, transformative work with each one. Her potential audience is broad. And she’s building connections very intentionally each week. 

In other words, success to her doesn’t fit the traditional business model. Her short and long-term goal is to facilitate transformation, one person at a time. The very nature of her work will allow her to build a strong referral network. In six months, she’ll likely have a waiting list. 

SEO would bury her. The investment would be prohibitive. And most importantly, it wouldn’t support her goal. In fact, it would probably stress her out, overload her, and lead to soul-crushing anxiety because she would diligently try to help all the people that came to her through her website. But she doesn’t want volume. She doesn’t want to cram her schedule full of client meetings each week. She’s not looking to increase her income or improve her lifestyle. (And yes, she understands this is a luxury that few can afford.)

But most website companies, business professionals, and SEO specialists will tell her she MUST have SEO. That she can’t run a business without it. I believe all these people are well-meaning, but they’re speaking from their personal lens of expertise and a passion to see others succeed. 

I’ve been right there with them.

How to know if SEO is right for you.

Most often, what’s missing in the equation is listening and the exploration of what a business owner is really trying to achieve. Yes, I ask every single business owner who comes to me about her big audacious goal, from now on I realize I need to ask it differently. To explore the nuances. What is their long-term goal? Are they bringing something to the world that only they can? What are their financial goals? What are their financial realities? And what is “enough” for them to live the life they desire?

Their long-term goal may shift some over time, but the path to that goal can be broken out in 12-24 month chunks. We can build into the timeline both flexibility and purpose. We can define their brand, messaging, and SEO strategy. And in these increments, we can get to their personal definition of success.

But if I really want to women to succeed, it may mean I have to tell them that SEO isn’t really what they need to spend their time, energy, and income on.