Research shows that between 60 and 80 percent of web searchers click on organic search results over paid results. If your website isn’t listed in those natural results, you’re losing business.
While anyone with a large enough advertising budget can rank at the top of the paid results, you can’t buy your way to the top of the organic results. The only way to get there is with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. If you're just starting out, you should definitely invest the time and effort into learning SEO.
Let’s take a look at why SEO marketing is so important in today’s digital landscape.
A lot of people who search for something on Google assume that by listing a website in the results, Google is “vouching” for that site to one degree or another. When your website shows up in the organic search results, it helps you build trust and credibility with your potential customers.
This is much different than having an ad showing on the first page of Google. Most people who use Google understand that companies pay to have their ads ranked at the top of the page. They realize that anyone can rank in the top spots if they’re willing to spend enough money to get there.
That doesn’t build credibility and if they see a paid ad but that same company or website isn’t also listed in the top organic results, it can even damage that credibility.
Search engine optimization is considered to be all about the search engines. It’s even in the name. But it ends up providing a better experience for your website visitors when done well.
In the early days of SEO, it was all about the words on the page and a few other things that were pretty easy to manipulate. You would end up with pages that were written to include the main keyword as many times as possible, a practice known as keyword spamming.
While this worked well for SEO, it created a horrible experience for users. As computers became more powerful and Google’s algorithm became “smarter” this kind of thing stopped working and will end up hurting a site’s rankings.
Now you need to provide useful information and a good user experience to get ranked well in the search engines. So by optimizing your site, you’ll also be providing your users with what they’re looking for - even if that’s not your main objective.
There are several reasons that SEO is one of the strongest sources of website traffic:
Compared to paid advertising, SEO is considerably lower cost. There is an up-front cost, even if it’s the time you invest to do the work yourself, but once the work is done the results can be seen for months or even years to come.
Compare that to paid advertising where you pay for every click or view on your ad. If you stop paying, the traffic stops. You can figure out how much exactly SEO services are going to cost you using a SEO cost calculator.
We’ve already discussed the higher level of trust and credibility your customers will have when they see your site in the search results compared to the paid results.
If they see your site listed in the results whenever they search for something related to your market or industry, that will help build your reputation even if they don’t click on your link. The more they see your brand, the more likely they’ll be to think of you first the next time they need what you have to offer.
Search engine optimization lets you compete locally, regionally, nationally, or globally. Someone from the opposite side of the world can access your website as quickly and easily as someone next door.
If you do business online or can work with people remotely, this opens up a huge potential customer base that you would never have been able to consider before the internet. This also lets you compete with much larger companies, something we’ll get into shortly.
If you run a local business that deals with customers face-to-face, SEO marketing is still an important strategy. 72 percent of consumers who did a local search ended up visiting a store within 5 miles of home.
Local searchers are more likely to have buying intent so they will turn into paying customers more often than general searchers. Optimizing your website will ensure you’re listed in the local results section of Google.
Local SEO also helps ensure your business information is uniform across the web. When someone searches for your business to find information like your address, phone number, or business hours, you’ll likely lose them if the information they find is wrong.
It doesn’t matter if the wrong information isn’t your fault, they’re going to blame you anyway. Setting up your Google My Business profile and providing the correct information on your website will tell Google what the correct information is, helping ensure that’s what they show to searchers.
In the twenty or so years that Google has been around, they’ve made an untold number of changes to the algorithm that ranks the search results. But they didn’t change the layout of the results very much for a long time.
That’s been changing over the last few years.
Where Google used to show a standard ten search results with paid ads at the top and down the right-hand side of the page, they’ve been adding more and more information to their result pages.
In a lot of cases, searchers will find the answer they’re looking for right in the search results without having to click away to a website. Features like Google’s Knowledge Graph and People Also Ask help keep people on the Google page.
This is good for Google but not so good for the websites listed in the results. Unless you can optimize your website to be the one that provides the answers Google shows.
When you offer helpful, accurate information on your website and combine that with solid SEO techniques, you have a chance of being the source of answers. That way, even if a potential customer doesn’t click through and visit your website, they’ll still see your name and website address.
This kind of branding can help build trust and credibility with your potential customers.
Even if you don’t care a bit about any of the previous benefits of digital marketing with SEO there’s one thing that you should keep in mind:
Your competition is probably doing it.
That’s right, your competitors are more than likely already focused on SEO and could be grabbing potential customers out from under you right now. They could even rank for things like your business name and other things related to your business.
How would you like to find out a potential customer Googled your business, ended up on your competitor’s website, and wound up buying from them instead of you?
SEO gives you the ability to level the playing field with larger competitors. Someone clicking on a search result in Google won’t know how one company is versus another in the results if they’ve never heard of them before. This gives you the ability to compete with companies that have much larger advertising budgets since they can’t buy a higher ranking.
This is a two-way street, mind you. If you’re the bigger company, smaller upstart competitors can easily compete with you if you’re not optimizing your website for higher rankings.
Search engine optimization isn’t all that complicated but it does take some work, especially when you’re first starting the SEO process. And because things change so often, it can be almost a full-time job to stay on top of the latest information.
In most cases, it’s better to focus on what your business does well and leave digital marketing to an SEO expert. They’ll stay on top of all the latest changes and will be able to provide much better results over time.
The SEO marketing landscape is constantly changing. Google updates its ranking algorithms regularly and gets better and better at identifying the most relevant websites for any given search.
Because SEO is in this constant state of flux, you never “finish” optimizing your website. But providing a good experience and solid information to your website visitors will go a long way to keeping you at or near the top of the search results for the long term.
After all, that’s what Google’s goal is - to provide searchers with the most relevant and helpful results possible. When you work hard to provide your visitors with a good experience, you’ll have a solid head-start on your search engine optimization as well.
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