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So much is made of this great big scary thing called search engine optimization, what those who are “in the know” or who think they are “in the know” affectionately refer to as SEO. But how much of a difference does it really make for online retailers?

In short, it can be everything.

But that’s not what this post is about. Today I’m posting to address the almighty SEO and fill you in on when it actually doesn’t much matter for your online retail store. That’s right, it isn’t the be-all-end-all of online success.

When It Does Matter

Obviously getting your retail site found on Google is absolutely essential. I’m not here to argue that.

Google is the way things are found today. It’s what makes the business world go ’round. To that extent, you do need to be sure your retail store is ready for action with relevant keywords, site mapping, metas, descriptions, and all that great stuff billions of blogs and e-books out there have already gone into exhaustive detail about.

But don’t make your marketing revolve solely around SEO.

When It Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter when it’s distracting you from branching out into the myriad other forms of marketing out there.

Strict, traditional SEO (funny how now we can refer to “traditional” SEO) isn’t the only way to optimize how you’re found online. Video is increasingly a huge part of optimizing site pages for search engines (note how that sounds different from “SEO,” though it’s the same thing). Search success is increasingly becoming dependent on not just the content on your site, but the way all your content links together on various social sites (it’s a great time to get your YouTube presence connected to your social presence!). And while it’s largely dying out, even physical and guerrilla marketing still have their places in getting your business out there.

Basically it comes down to a necessity but not an exclusive solution. Don’t get too caught up in it. If you’re convinced you need to step out into more dynamic approaches, start by understanding some essential Google Analytics metrics to market smarter, not harder.

What’s your take on SEO? Does it still matter as much as it used to?