This article will help you understand what is SEO and how it works plus five reasons that will leave you asking not “how much will it cost to have SEO?” but “how much business am I losing by not having SEO?”
What is SEO and how it works:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of a solid marketing plan for any business, especially small and medium sized businesses.
SEO is curating the content of your website so that it can be more easily identified by search engines when certain words, terms or questions are searched for.
Imagine you are organising a party. You spare no expense. You have the catering, the band, the drinks, the venue and the suit. This will be the party of the century. On the night though, no one turns up – except the cousin you did not really want to see anyway. You realise that you forgot to send out the invites.
Having a great website without SEO is like having a party and forgetting to send out the invites.
The goal of SEO is to both grow your overall site traffic and improve the quality of visitors coming to your site – the people who are looking for your services and products.
Search engines aim to provide search results that are relevant and provide a range of content options that are credible and provide a great user experience to the searchers, no matter what device is being used.
The three important aspects of SEO are authority, user experience and relevance. When search engines look at the content on your website, they are trying to understand how relevant the content is in a certain context, how much authority the site has and what kind of experience users will have on the site.
SEO and paid advertising such as Google Adwords or any other form of online advertising are very different. Put simply, SEO is making your website turn up at the top of the list in an online search without paying a search engine, ie: Google to put it there for you. (I frequently refer to Google however this is not the only search engine out there. There are others which are less common such as Bing.) Good SEO should aim to drive a higher search result for your website no matter which search engine is used.
So far we’ve focused on what SEO is and how it works. Here are five reasons why SEO with the help of a good SEO Consultant is a staple for your business:
1. Consumers chose organic search results 94% of the time
According to Search Engine Watch, searchers click organic results over paid advertising 94% of the time. (This comment is not a suggestion that paid search advertising is ineffective)
Why? consumers tend to avoid paid advertising. Searchers place a higher level of credibility in organic results – your website has earned the right to be in that position.
2. Over 33% of clicks go to the number 1 search result
Search Engine Watch also reports over 33% of clicks go to the website which has the number one search ranking. That equates to one in every three people who search for keywords, terms or questions relating to your business!
To make that picture a little bigger, nearly 70%-80% of clicks go to websites in the top three search positions and 97% of all search clicks go to the top five organic rankings.
If you are not in the top three results you are not getting clicks and if you’re not in the top five results your business is not being seen.
3. Cost effective
SEO is one of the most cost-effective tools that businesses can use.
Compared to the costs associated with other forms of advertising (including online and offline) such as pay per click advertising, social media advertising or purchasing leads for an email marketing programme, SEO provides a stronger return on investment.
SEO may not be the biggest driver of leads however, in most of the case studies I have seen, SEO drives the most stable and sustainable source of leads at the lowest cost.
4. 80-90% of consumers start their search for a product online
There are a range of studies with varying results however every study I have found agreed that between 80-90% of consumers search for product or supplier information online, and use search engines to do it, prior to making a purchase.
If you are not showing up in search engine results you are not where your customers are looking.
5. SEO is here to stay
Over the last two decades SEO has matured and cemented it’s role in the modern digital landscape.
Unquestionably the digital sector has seen its fair share of fads and trends. Without trying too hard I can rattle off a list of at least half a dozen ‘has beens’ that are littering the digital marketing graveyard, but SEO is not one of the.
As the creation and consumption of content increases, the role and important of SEO has only grown.
What to think about when considering SEO:
In its infancy SEO was based on keywords, meta data and alt tags for images. Someone with a bit of tech skill may have done a pretty good job at their own SEO. As SEO has matured it has also become increasingly complex as it grows to meet the evolving needs of search algorithms, the hardware we use to access the internet and the mediums of content that are now produced. Understanding all these aspects and building a sustainable strategy is where a good SEO consultant will add value.
SEO is a never-ending process. It is not something that you do once, it is something that must be maintained on a monthly basis. If you’re not moving forwards or at least maintaining your position, you will be losing ground to competitors targeting the same search queries.
Lastly SEO is not a quick-fix or an overnight success. I believe it is one of the most sustainable aspects of a marketing plan, but it is the long play (relatively speaking). SEO is not an answer by itself and will provide the best results when employed in combination with a holistic advertising approach.
A few final words on what SEO is and how it works
Hopefully you now understand what SEO is and how it works. Good SEO could be likened to a foundation of stone for your digital strategy. It won’t delivery overnight results, but it will deliver cost effective, sustainable results; just be prepared to play the long game.
Take a moment and imagine you are one of your own customers. What would you search for in Google if you were looking for the services you offer?
You might come up with one obvious answer or you might have multiple possibilities. Try searching for your search terms or questions in Google and where your business appears in the list of search results.
If your website doesn’t appear in the top three rankings, ask yourself how many people are not coming to your website, are not looking at your products and services and are not becoming your customers.