The Unwilling SEO

I’ve become an unwilling SEO (search engine optimization professional).

What I mean is, because I run a  business with a large Web component, I’ve had to learn a little about search engine optimization and search engine marketing — emphasis on “a little.”

I don’t consider myself a search professional.  Nor do I want to become one.  Given a choice, there are lots of other things I’d rather spend my time on, that I think I’m better at.  It’s just that search is so important to my business, as it is to so many small businesses today.

I wrote about the challenges of balancing between learning and doing SEO yourself, and outsourcing various functions over at the Looksmart blog:  Tips for the Unwilling SEO.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

15 Reactions
  1. Doing something we really don’t like is a difficult thing. But if I am in your shoes, I would like what’s happening with and would love to learn more about SEO.

  2. I recently listen to speech on search engine optimization, learning tips and tricks if you are not on the top 10 list on Google, i.e. the first page. It was arranged by the Marketing association in Gothenburg and the speaker came from Guava. The company is a qualified Google (AdWords) Advertising Professional. I will have a chat regarding the blogosphere with one of the people at Guava, next time he is visiting Gothenburg. The speaker talked a lot about Anita’s point number 2, “Spend money to make money”, and he gave several examples on marketing campaigns and how to spend your money in a wise way.

  3. Anita, Wonderful comments. What you wrote applies directly to me. Thanks for the post!

  4. Are their any other ways besides searches to find potential clients for your business? Any databases online to find specific client companies? I work for a temp agency and we are always looking for business, the problem is finding an actual contact name to market to.

  5. Hi Danielle, have you tried using any of these: — If you get the premium version you can do some advanced searching and reach out to people in various companies. — Plaxo also lists individual people and their company names. What’s more, they’ve recently expanded their social networking capabilities, so that you can connect with individual people.

    Hoovers — Hoovers is the traditional source of company info and profiles, including a claim to have a database of 36 million people in those companies. If you don’t want to spring for a subscription right away, you can always visit your local library. Any decent-sized public library will have a subscription to the Hoovers database and the reference librarians will even help you find information. If it turns out to be useful, you could always purchase a subscription later.

    James J. Hill Reference Library — This is the premier business reference library in the United States. It’s located in Minnesota, but you can purchase an online subscription which will give you access to their reference librarians, also. — has a business oriented directory/search engine broken done by all sorts of very-specific categories. I’m not sure how useful it will be to find actual contact names, but it’s worth checking out whenever you are looking for business resources.

    Anybody else have suggestions for Danielle?

  6. SEO is quite a challenge for those of us who are not experts in the matter. There’s simply just so much to learn and so many details that truly make a difference. I agree with you though, getting through the basics is one thing . . . but the advanced stuff – that’s for the pros.

  7. So true. With the many responsibilities that come with owning a business, we don’t always have the time or concentration needed to learn new seo tactics. The basics are doable but anything involved should be outsourced to someone trained to keep up with the ever evolving seo techniques.

  8. Although SEO may be a useful approach for your website, you may also want to look into a PPC campaign with, a Pay Per Click (PPC) search engine. offers a campaign tailored to fit the prerequisites of your advertising budget along with full reporting of your Return on Investment (ROI) and personal customer service.

  9. Goood tips Anita amd although it takes time you can learn the basics and see results. After doing PPC I think that one like any media is probably best left to the experts otherwise you can waste time and money best spent elsewhere.

  10. Anita,
    I don’t think SEO is really rocket science – there are definitely tips you need to be familiar with to insure the site structure is optimized, but beyond that it is good regular user friendly content and relevant linking that will have the biggest impact.
    I do all my own SEO and have managed to climb up in the rankings in my niches within a year – website business broker, website businesses for sale, websites for sale and another dozen or so.
    David Fairley

  11. I saw before an SEO video and yes, like what you said Susan, it takes time to learn and see the results.. But if you want faster results and if you can afford, you can always avail of PPC programs like adwords, kontera and the like. But of course, this involves greater money unlike with SEO-ing your site. 🙂

  12. SEO is definitely important if you have a business presence on the web, but it’s not of ultimate importance, nor is it that difficult to learn and apply with reasonable success.

    It just takes a little study and regular incorporation of SEO fundamentals.

  13. “but it’s not of ultimate importance” – I beg to disagree Jesse because what Anita is pointing here is for businesses with dependence to the Internet. But even if it’s without, you can’t deny the fact how the trends in business today is going… — to the Internet.

  14. Arthur, certainly the trends in business are moving, in many ways, to the Internet.

    When I say SEO isn’t of ultimate importance, I’m mean that quality and valuable content trumps strict SEO, in my opinion.

    One can get so enamored with SEO that their content ceases to be natural, substantive, and written by a human author for a human reader; too much writing for the search engines (computers) can make for some incredibly boring, fluffy content.

    Certainly, there’s a wise balance here, between quality content and effective SEO.

    And also, there are other, perhaps more productive ways of finding customers than relying too heavily on them typing requests into search engines to find us.

    No doubt, SEO is very important; I just think, in light of the above, it’s not of “ultimate importance,” in comparison to other factors.

  15. SEO is SO important to any business’ website. About a year ago I hired an SEO/SEM company here in Austin and it has made all the difference. At first, I thought I would see dramatic results to my company’s listing on Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. I did see results, but over the months my rankings are getting better and better.

    It’s really important that you find the right SEO company though. I have heard terrible stories of companies taking shortcuts and getting their clients banned from Google altogether. Also, some SEO companies will buy unrelated Adwords for a client, so yes, they did get on page one – but for dog biscuits when they sell swimming pools!

    All I’m saying is do your homework. Spend a lot of time researching the company before you hire them. SEO work isn’t cheap… but worth every penny.