The short answer is, "Sure." And it likely always will. But amount of free traffic search engines now deliver to many small online businesses doesn't amount to much. And what there is of it continues to decline in importance. Pay-for- submission models are rapidly eliminating free options.
These trends will continue. And many have been aware of this for years. My own site provides a good example of results.
A Question Overlooked
A fellow called a while back asking about services I offer. When he asked how my web pages ranked on search engines, I said I didn't know, that I had never checked. I guess that wasn't what he wanted to hear, for he hung up.
But it is fact. Why would I care what positions I have? My log files show I'm getting less than 20% of hits from search engines. Given competition for keyword phrases such as "site promotion," it is no surprise I don't get more.
Answering The Question
Still, call triggered action of sorts. I ran Web Position on my major keywords. The results were startling.
I asked program to go 99 listings deep. It found only 4 pages of over 700 on my site listed for keywords entered, and none at all above 50th position. So how am I'm getting hits?
The Mystery Of Search Engines Unanswered
All above report means is that I am not getting many hits on keywords I felt were appropriated for a particular page. For example, site promotion brought up my Tips page as #86 at AltaVista. And this in itself is startling, for page changes every week! (It's also entirely in size 1, something some experts believe AltaVista considers spam.)
Web Editorial Service was #73 at Lyris, but page is not an article I wrote. Web Site Promotion Services was #52 at Google. Site Promotion Services was #6 at Overture.com, but I paid for this position.
In opening STAT, I followed advice that proved to be bad info. I developed a massive set of targeted keywords for site. Most of terms I began with have disappeared since exploring with them. And with but few exceptions, I now have only clues as to keywords on a given page that actually bring a visitor.
Still, site initially brought pretty good free traffic from search engines. It peaked about end of 1998 at about 40% of total traffic, and has steadily been declining since.