Over the years, I've learned a large number of things about the strengths and weaknesses of search as a medium. I've learned things like:

  • search should not be thought of as a stand alone marketing medium
  • PPC (Paid Search) is better for accomplishing some goals than SEO is
  • SEO is better for accomplishing some goals than PPC is
  • content is KING
  • content is KING (did I say that already?)

Perhaps one of the most powerful of these lessons however, is that as powerful as search is, it CANNOT compensate for a faulty business model.

Faulty Business Model

Sure, in the short term a good SEO can help. Those rankings will often bring in some business. Unfortunately, those same good rankings also help to conceal problems with the business model.

What is a Good Business Model?
What does a good business model consist of? Its a direct function of the relative value:price ratio for a product or service amongst competitors, sprinkled with a whole lot of common sense.

If anything is amiss ... the company is doomed for failure, expert SEO or not.

Why Are Companies with Faulty Business Models Doomed?
Companies with faulty business models are doomed for a number of reasons. Primarily however, they're doomed because search engines want to recommend sites that SATISFY searcher's needs. Almost by definition, companies with faulty business models cannot satisfy clients and searchers, because either:

  • their price is too high given the value of the product or service
  • their value is too low given the price of the product or service
  • common sense is lacking, severely distorting the value:price ratio ... and I suspect this is by far the most common

Long term (in a few more years ... not yet though) this means search engines will look at your friend's preferences and opinions (aka social search), and the behaviour patterns of thousands of other searchers, and will rearrange rankings based on those indicators. The result ... faulty business models lose.

What Does This Mean for SEOs?
As a result, SEO companies in the future will have to make some interesting business decisions:

  • do we accept or retain clients with faulty business models?
  • how do we identify clients with faulty business models ... what are the signals?
  • do we attempt to become management/change consultants too?

What Does This Mean for Businesses?
Ultimately, this means that companies must focus their time and efforts on what it is they do best. They need to ensure they've got solid defensible business models. The more sound the business model, the easier it will be to rank for relevant terms. If not, make the tough decisions, and correct the issues, or Google will!