There is a Walmart in Idaho Falls where I grew up. A few years ago my dad told me that it is the only Walmart that has a fishing pro shop. I was never a fisherman but there are some world class fishing areas around that area and so a local small business market was created for mom and pop style pro fishing shops. These local shops could offer plenty of advice about where to fish and what kind of bait/flys to use. Walmart not content to rule the great consumer world figured they could take out a few more local shops by establishing a cut rate, made in China pro shop that could never offer the service or expertise of the smaller guys but which would gradually edge out the guys who built the market in the first place. Consumers love cheap and fast, but don’t always realize what they are giving up.
Today I learned that Walmart and Sams have entered the SEO market. This seems absurd and if you pay attention to what they are offering you will realize it is ridiculous. In typical Walmart fashion they are charging a low price, but what you are getting is junk. For $25 a month they will submit your site to search engines – a practice that has been long abandoned. For $50 they will help you setup a campaign using Google or Yahoo. Just like the pro shops instance, Walmart saw a market and is now attempting to take it over from those who built it – the SEO professionals who have been at this for 10 years.
Will they succeed? I am betting they will have an impact. There are plenty of small businesses that don’t understand technology and who shop at Sams. For $25 or even $50 a month wouldn’t you love to have your internet marketing problems go away.
In the end they will get the kind of service you get at Walmart which is almost always sub par. The irony here is that SEO is a service not a commodity, but they are packaging it as a commodity and those who bite will be disappointed in the results. The upside to this is that the SEO market has little to worry about. The guys who will only pay $25 don’t make great clients and those who care about internet marketing will continue to do SEO the hard way which is the only way to be successful in that space.
Giant companies like Walmart are great at efficiency so for the every day stuff they do a great job. If I need shampoo or diapers I am buying from a large manufacturer so I don’t really care if I buy it at Walmart or some other similar store. The lowest price in that instance wins.
Giant companies are not good at customer service, local knowledge and information dissemination. If you are headed out for the ultimate fishing trip do you want to get your information from some kid making $6/hr or a guy that has fished every river for 100 miles. If you want gardening information do you really want to ask the 16 year old in the funny uniform or do you want to go to the garden store that charges a bit more, but who can tell you exactly what is wrong with your tree by looking at a few leaves? (I go to Anderson Seed in Logan. They are awesome).
If you want SEO would you ever trust the company who is currently coming up with a strategy to put you out of business? Think about it.