Whether your business is a large multinational corporation or a fledgling startup, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, plays a crucial role in digital marketing. It is one of the two main pillars upon which most online marketing campaigns are built (the other being conversion rate optimization or CRO). Done well, SEO can help your business to establish an online presence and grow organically.
In this article we look at what SEO is and why SEO is important for business growth:
WHAT IS SEO
Before we look at what SEO is, it’s important to understand how search engines find results.
1. Special search bots ‘crawl’ the web for website links, including within sites.
2. The search engine then indexes these links in a database, identifying keywords to store it under to make retrieval quicker.
3. When a user searches for a term, the engine processes the searched term by comparing it to what is in its database.
4. Based on this, the search engine will then present what these links in what it deems the closest match. The closer the match, the higher up on the page it displays.
This is where SEO comes in. It is the practice of optimizing website content to best match certain keywords, copy, images. Where your website appears on search results can make a huge difference to your bottom line. This makes SEO critical for the growth and success of your business.
Note: Search engines use complex algorithms to determine the best results, by taking into account things like relevance, readability, and target audience. These algorithms change all the time and are a closely guarded secret, but the changes are usually not radical, and the basics stay the same.
WAYS TO USE SEO TO HELP GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Here’s a look at ways in which SEO can be used to boost business growth:
1. Reach the right customers
With traditional marketing channels like print, radio, billboards, and TV you aim to reach a certain target market, but no matter how much research you do, you can never be sure. Digital tools like SEO, on the other hand, allows you to target very specific customers by optimizing your website to appear in very specific search queries to very specific demographics, in very specific locations.
Targeting specific locations is called ‘local search’ and has proven to be a very powerful tool, and thus important, tool to not only attract customers but also increase sales.
2. Long-term strategy for long-lasting results
Unlike other forms of online marketing like ‘paid search’, results from SEO are not instant. While it is possible to see instant results, seeing significant results from SEO takes time. According to research, it takes between six to twelve months to see significant improvements in ranking results, especially if your business is new. This might not even mean you’re going to reach the #1 spot.
The upside of this is that SEO increases your visibility in the long run because your business remains visible while you’re moving up the rankings. This also means that you will be able to stay in the top spot for longer, beating the short-lived attention of things like ‘paid search’ and other forms of digital marketing.
3. Improves ranking
Speaking of top spots, SEO’s purpose above all else is to improve your website’s search ranking. Why is ranking important? Because a staggering 75% of people never scroll past the first page.
What’s more, studies have shown that the first three ranking results draw nearly 40% of all click-throughs and that a third of the results on the first two pages don’t get clicked at all. This means that if your website appears on page 3 of search results, you’re as good as invisible.
4. Cost-effective, high-quality traffic
It is clear that the higher your website ranks on search results, the more likely it is for people to click through to your site. But it’s not just about the size of traffic, but the quality of traffic that’s important. You want visitors who are genuinely interested in your product or service, who are ready to convert, and SEO can deliver just that.
More importantly, SEO tends to be cheaper than other forms of online advertising like ‘paid search’ and ‘PPC’ in the long run, generating a higher, more sustained return on investment.
5. Increase credibility
People are constantly bombarded by ads online, so much so that they start to suffer from ad fatigue. This has led to the rise in popularity of ad-blocking software that blocks most paid advertising, resulting in a drop in the effectiveness of these types of campaigns.
But because SEO all happens in the background, users don’t feel like they’re overtly being sold to and are therefore more likely to click on your link. This also increases the credibility of your site — if a website is at the top of a search page, it has to be credible, right? This is actually true, because the reputation of a search engine rests on the quality and relevancy of the links they provide, meaning that websites with higher quality content will be pushed.
6. Customer engagement & user experience
But credibility is not everything. The great thing about the internet is its ability for businesses to engage with their customers. Engagement has become so important, that the happiness of customers depends on the quality of the engagement with the company they’re buying from.
The key to engagement is how the user experiences your website. How easy is it to navigate, how easy is it to find the information and/or products you’re looking for, and how easy is it to buy from you? These are all factors that search engine algorithms take into account when ranking pages. The better the user experience on your site, the higher it is likely to rank.
7. Stay ahead of competitors
SEO was once seen as simply a fad, but as the practice matured, it has proven itself to be a highly effective tool that’s here to stay. In fact, more than 60% of marketers consider SEO their top priority for generating ‘organic’ traffic. This means that if you’re not implementing some sort of SEO, then you risk falling behind (and off the search page) your competitors.
If you want your business to thrive, you need to stay ahead of the pack, and having the top spot on a search results page is a big advantage.
Online business has become fiercely competitive, especially in the current global business climate. This has increased the importance of businesses having a strong online presence exponentially. Having an effective SEO strategy not only gives your business a strong online presence, it allows it to grow and thrive.