You have probably heard the term SEO, and you know that you need it for your business, but do you know what it is and why you need it?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the practice of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic to your website, through organic search engine results, which are the results that appear without being paid for.
To break this down further:
Traffic quality – high numbers of website visitors, might look good on your reports, but if those visitors are not relevant to your business, this is not quality traffic. You need to attract visitors that are interested in the products and services that you offer.
Traffic quantity – Once you have the quality of visitors, then the amount becomes more critical.
Organic search results – organic search results are gained through SEO and not paid advertising. Organic search results are often considered more credible than ads and certainly receive many more clicks. On average, organic links receive 20 times more traffic than PPC (pay per click).
How does SEO work?
Have you ever considered how search engines such as Google and Bing actually work?
Search engines have crawlers that work through the internet to understand the information that is on websites. These crawlers build an index which is then fed through an algorithm that works to match the data in the index with the query that a user is making.
A search engine’s algorithm is made up of many ranking factors, including content length and relevance, social media links, links from other sites and keyword use. Therefore, the optimisation of your site requires several factors to be considered.
Why do I need SEO for my business?
There are 12 main reasons that SEO is essential to a business:
- SEO is an investment, not a cost
SEO should be understood as an investment (and one with a high return), rather than a cost. If you combine SEO with analytics data from your website, you will be able to see where keywords on your site convert well, while others are only achieving page 2 or lower in search results. If you get SEO right and can rank in the top 3 listings on Page 1, you will see a significant return on this investment.
- SEO ensures your business is always in the spotlight
Think about it. Who from your business is available 24/7 and never takes a holiday or sick leave? Your website! SEO provides a great deal of attention to a website, ensuring that it can be consistently performing. If you get SEO right, your website will be working continually and gaining you business even outside of working hours.
- SEO can be a crucial part of your marketing mix
SEO complements and works with all aspects of your overall marketing mix. If your business is large enough to have different marketing specialists, they should be working together to ‘beat’ competitors and not each other.
The best place to start is as an authoritative voice and one that offers solutions to your clients’ problems without a ‘hard sell’. By using SEO correctly, you can attract these clients to your website by providing solutions, matching their enquiries in search.
- SEO is an essential ingredient, not just the cherry on top
Many companies stop spending once their website is built, but this is a mistake. It is no longer possible to take the view of ‘build it, and they will come’, you have to help search engines understand your website and therefore your business.
Ideally, you should involve an SEO specialist before you build (or rebuild) a website. SEO is an essential ingredient in the marketing mix and can help define website navigation, content, URL structures and even the images used. SEO helps to tailor your website as closely as possible to your user’s needs, therefore utilising SEO early is the most efficient way to work and could save time (and money) at a later stage.
- SEO is more than just an SEO friendly website
Your website developer may tell you that your website is SEO friendly and even optimised, but this won’t necessarily be the case. SEO is much more than just setting up a website and adding in relevant keywords or SEO friendly navigation. SEO is an ongoing process, and thanks to algorithm changes by Google and other search engines, it is an activity that needs regular attention.
SEO is not new, but many more companies are now recognising its importance. It is quite likely that your competitors are employing SEO strategies, so why wouldn’t you?
- SEO can vastly increase your impact
You have probably had business cards, leaflets or brochures printed for your business, but what was the cost compared to your website build? We are sure you carefully proofread the printed material, but did you consider having a specialist check your website, which is arguably your most important marketing tool?
If you ignore SEO, it is the same as taking your lovely, printed brochures and putting them away in a cupboard. No one will ever see them. SEO is your calling card online, and a way to make sure the right people see you and that they are attracted to your products and services. If attractive enough, it will also produce qualified leads which will (hopefully) turn into paying customers.
- SEO is ‘free’ advertising
Ignoring the fact that you may need to pay for an SEO specialist, there are no other costs to SEO. It provides you with the opportunity to specify how you appear in search results and if you are not tailoring this to your customers, you’re missing out! Knowing what your customers are searching for and tailoring your website’s title tags and metadata to suit this is incredibly powerful and costs nothing to do.
- SEO helps your website to be found
Your website is often your first point of contact with prospective customers, but it is useless if it cannot be found! SEO plays an invaluable role in this. Long gone are the days when SEO was purely about getting a site to rank highly through minimal changes. Search engines are now highly intelligent and look at multiple factors that all go to make up a great user experience. Its, therefore, essential to understand what is required for SEO and how to implement it.
- SEO helps to build credibility and trust
If you need information about something, what do you tend to do? Probably Google it! So, imagine if your business was the top organic result; psychology tells us that means you must be the best. The title and meta description tags of your website can deliver a powerful message that helps to strengthen your brand and increase its credibility. It is, therefore, vital to understand your prospective customers and present them with the right solution.
- SEO gets you ‘in the game’
If you cannot be found online, some people will question your credibility, and you will lose out on clicks and potential enquiries. On average, the top ranking on Google gets 36.4% of all clicks, with the 2nd place receiving 12.5% and 3rdplace 9.5%. After that, things decline very rapidly. Even if your business and sales pipeline is healthy, think how many more enquiries you could gain if you were at the top of the search results!
- SEO can help build your brand
Your main aim in marketing is to be remembered by consumers as a brand that they trust and return to. As you gain website visitors, they become familiar with your business, and it becomes more likely that they will return, and hopefully mention you to others. SEO can help this process by delivering the most relevant and useful information via search engines.
- SEO is long-term, not just a quick fix
SEO does deliver fast results, but its main advantage is that it can continue to provide long-term too. Advertising methods such as PPC will drive web traffic, but many consumers still say they prefer organic search results when looking for a product or service. That is where SEO comes in. A proper SEO setup can keep your business ranking for a considerable time, but it is best to continue SEO work to keep your rankings and stay ahead of your competitors.
- SEO drives offline sales
A 2008 study found that 86% of consumers use the internet to find a local business that they then visit offline (in person). Even if your business is mainly conducted offline, it is important to consider online marketing, like your website and online listings can keep working even when your store is closed.
- SEO attracts relevant traffic, equaling a higher conversion potential
SEO is highly targeted and specific down to the smallest details. Getting your SEO right will bring in consumers that are relevant to your business and therefore much more likely to convert to a sale. Without SEO, you could find that your website ends up getting found in the wrong results, and you will not see the customers that you want.
- SEO is measurable
Everything in SEO is measurable; therefore, you can always understand your ROI.
- SEO has a high ROI
SEO has proven itself to be one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing and delivers a high return on investment. Your website costs are the same regardless of the number of visitors, and how many of those convert to a sale. Therefore, your marketing costs are also the same, irrespective of the number of sales.
Effective SEO can attract thousands (sometimes millions) of prospects that have been attracted due to you delivering an exact answer to their query. Also, SEO builds momentum which continues after you have spent time on it, although it is beneficial to continue ongoing maintenance.
- SEO can be outsourced
Its relatively easy to outsource your SEO to a specialist, and they can manage the process without a great deal of input from you. The advantage of an SEO specialist is that this is what they do 24/7 and as a result, are always up to date with algorithm changes, good and bad ranking factors and the latest trends. A quality SEO company will get the work done efficiently and effectively.
- SEO will work for your business
Tried SEO before and been unsuccessful? Do not give up. One great advantage of SEO is that it can be tweaked and adjusted to suit your business and its objectives. An expert SEO company will drive you away from competition that is too tough, provides minimal revenue potential or markets that are too small to name a few. This will avoid you wasting time and money chasing the wrong targets. SEO can provide constant and reliable results that take away the guesswork.
- SEO can convince the toughest sceptics
If you are not sure if SEO can deliver for your business, have a chat with an SEO specialist. They can often produce forecasts or simulations of the benefits that SEO can provide. When there is a battle for marketing funds, having this information can be vital.
- SEO is never-ending (in a good way!)
SEO offers continual changes and opportunities and needs constant attention to tweak and adjust your strategies. This is how investing in an SEO company can reap benefits. They will keep a continuous check on your results and either make or suggest changes to keep your business on top of rankings.
- SEO beats paid traffic
We’ve already mentioned how the majority of users still click on organic results over PPC, but in general, SEO is only given less than 15% of a standard marketing budget. SEO drives 75% of web traffic, so why spend so much on PPC?
- SEO is aimed purely at the users intent
Other forms of online marketing ‘interrupt’ a user with a sales pitch, but SEO is aligned with what the user is actually looking for. Being there with the right information at the right time builds credibility for your brand and encourages engagement.
- SEO helps you to beat weak competitors
Many companies with a small budget or a disjointed marketing strategy will make some mistakes, and with SEO, you can take advantage of these. A study by IPSOS found that 71% of users search online after seeing an advert or information about a brand, its’ product/s or services. With SEO, you can position yourself to harvest this traffic if your competitor has not managed to combine their efforts across all channels. This is not a sneaky practice of using another brand’s name, but merely targeting the generic keyword searches that people make in response to the advert.
Hopefully, these reasons have helped to convince you of the value of SEO and what it can do for your business, regardless of its size and situation. If you’re not sure where to start, an SEO company can be a great asset to your business. They can find lucrative keywords in niches you may not have considered, carry out competitor analysis and help you build relevant quality content for your website, among many other talents.
An SEO company will also analyse the market and advise where your time and efforts are best spent. If it’s impossible to compete on certain keywords, an SEO expert will try to find other niche phrases or areas to target. If you are a small business, sometimes it will be impossible to try and directly take traffic from a large international competitor, so it’s better to find smart ways to compete.
Written by Smash Marketing Limited