Why SEO matters

Today i encountered a situation which could be the textbook example of why noone, but especially not multimillion $ companies can afford to not care about optimizing their websites for search engines.

Our office printer is a Lexmark Optra t614, a great workgroup laser printer, which works like a charm but ocassionally for whatever reason it reconfigures itself to do two unwanted things: it prints a so-called “banner page” before every print job which is a complete waste of paper and toner ink, and at the same time it disables two-sided printing. We navigated the printer’s menu left and right and we couldn’t find a setting option to disable the banner page so we wasted stacks of paper and were very very annoyed. We tried several times to search Google for the answer – typing queries like “lexmark t614 banner page” and every conceivable variation of it, but there was no help at all from Google.

Then, i visited Lexmark’s website and navigated to the support documents for our printer. Sure enough in the FAQ i found the answer. (Here’s the link to the solution for those readers who will no doubt arrive here looking for the answer to this very question.)
The answer is clearly spelled out in an HTML text document on a publicly accessible part of the Lexmark website. It has a dynamic URL, which is most likely the thing that prevented Google from indexing the page.

Now imagine for a second how many support calls Lexmark could save in a year if people could actually find these answers via Google instead of having to call the service center if they are too lazy to search the lexmark site, or don’t even realize that the solution might be posted there. And this is just one of the zillions of everyday support issues that no doubt have their solutions posted on the website, yet no doubt there are hundreds of people any day of the year who pick up the phone after one or two tries at Google.

The moral of the story? You can’t afford to skimp on SEO.

PS: To make this experiment a bit more interesting, after i decided to write this post about the story, i tried the same queries on Yahoo and MSN to see if they would have solved the issue at the first try. Both search engines provided no help on the issue, but were so cluttered with sites advertising lexmark toners, parts and printers that even if the answer would have been there somewhere in the results, i woud have closed the browser in disgust before i found it. Yet another proof (as if i needed any more) that Google *is* the king/queen of search engines. (Is Google male or female?) :)

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