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If your website is a business necessity, then so is Google.

I talk to a lot of people about how to work the web. Some of them have a limited understanding about how search engines work and how to take advantage of them. One comment I hear occasionally is, "I don't care about Search Engine Optimization."

Really?

Let's think this through. Most companies have something for sale - widgets for consumers, parts for other businesses, service time, whatever. Selling those "whatevers" is how companies stay in business. So who is buying all this stuff? Customers, of course. This is easy: make stuff and sell it to customers. When I ask these SEOphobes where they get their customers, they often answer that they have all the customers they need.

Again, really?

Customers never stay forever. Here's my time-proven sales process: land a new customer, go celebrate, start the next day by looking for a replacement for the new customer. They never stay. The customer you've dealt with for 20 years retires and their replacement has their own favorite vendors. The customer moves their company to another state. They're bought out. They go out of business. I could name a hundred reasons why customers go away. I can't think of one reason why they would stay forever.

Advertising and marketing for most companies is really customer replacement. If new customers outnumber the customers who leave, the business is growing. Vice versa? The business is dying. Finding new customers is a necessary task for every business.

A website can be a huge contributor to this effort, but only if it generates new leads. A business owner recently told me that the reason he doesn't care about SEO is because he is planning to use direct mail to drive traffic to his website. That misses the point of a website. If you know someone, mail them your product info. A successful website connects you to people you don't know.

For someone who is struggling to understand how the web works, that seems like a catch-22. How do you talk to someone you haven't met? The answer is Google. Yes, there are other search engines, but most people use Google. (Besides, if you do well with Google, you'll do well with the others.) Google knows what people are looking for because people tell them every time they enter a search term. The greatest thing about Google is that they are happy to tell you what everyone is looking for. They are turning supply-and-demand economics into demand-and-supply.

It has never been easier to see what people want. SEO is a strategy for getting seen by people who have already said they are looking for you. SEO takes effort (check out SEO Toolbox to see how Dialogs can help), but the effort pays off. Google wants to help - that's how they stay in business. When they help you find new customers, they are growing. And if you aren't finding new customers, you are going under.

Really.