When most people think of SEO, they see it as a way to earn the top spot (or close to it) on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Markets can be highly competitive, and if SEO can get you above others in your industry than most companies see the process as being worth their time and money. While that is true in some ways, it is also far from the whole truth.
The wide perception about SEO implies that it is only really important for largely internet based businesses or those in competitive markets. However, SEO can benefit anyone who wants to develop an online presence and make themselves available to the ever-increasing number of consumers who use the internet as their primary shopping tool.
Small or niche businesses with limited resources may ask what the point of investing in SEO could be when there is little to no competition. What is the point when you’ve already earned the top spot, with no signs of losing it in the future? Amanda DiSilvestro has spent quite a lot of time considering this issue (enough for two separate articles across different sites) and the conclusive answer is that SEO can help businesses in niche markets in tons of ways that may not seem apparent at first.
Optimization means improving usability
Between Google’s recent shift of focus from links and keywords to quality usability for users, many aspects of optimization are centered entirely on improving how your site functions for the people that actually use it. SEO can be perceived as a marketing tactic, but it is more importantly a usability tactic. Sites that readers enjoy using are more valuable than those that barely function, and Google recognizes that and ranks sites accordingly.
You’ll have competition eventually
No matter how niche your business is today, eventually the vast majority of companies will see competition. Chances are, if you don’t see competition eventually your niche is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Either way, it is always best to be ahead of any competition that arises, and solid SEO essentially helps you fortify your grasp on the market. Rather than battling a new competitor when they show up, you’ll be prepared and far ahead of their attempts to overthrow you.
You want to be the best, not the only option
Ignoring SEO means your site isn’t living up to its potential. Customers view site usability and professionalism as indicators of the reputability of the company running the page. Because SEO is becoming synonymous with usability, optimizing your site communicates your value to search engines and your users at the same time. If consumers see you as the only option, but think your site and brand look sub par, they will view you as the only option they have rather than the best possible option. That pushes potential customers away and could even cause an enterprising individual who notices your weakness to try to enter your little market.
SEO isn’t immediate. It takes a lot of time to get the results you want. While you may feel comfortably established as the top (or only) option in your niche, things always change eventually. Getting ahead of the curve will save you stress in the long run and make potential customers trust your company more.