Consumers today live in a digital world. According to Accenture, an estimated 94% of B2B buyers say that they search online before making a purchase. Brands that do not take the initiative to leverage and understand the importance of SEO will be left behind and miss out on a great deal of value they could be adding to their business.
In the B2C sector, the dominance of the online world can also be seen. Statista reports that global ecommerce is expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. By that time, ecommerce will account for 17.5% of all retail sales, more than double what it was in 2015. Additionally, GE Capital Retail Bank reports 81% of people say that they research online before they make a decision to buy something.
The digital world also impacts local businesses in local search. An LSA-Acquisio report found that 75% of mobile searches result in a store visit within 24 hours, and 30% of these visits result in a purchase.
Modern consumers view the internet as an integral part of their shopping experience. Regardless of whether they buy online or in person, they use the internet to learn more about the products and businesses available. The digital marketplace, therefore, cannot be overlooked by any business.
Investing in SEO, however, can seem overwhelming. Businesses want to know that the time and financial investment they make will give them a strong return both now and in the future. Here is what every organization should know about the importance of SEO.
Understanding the main principles of SEO
Search engine optimization describes a strategy that encompasses nearly every aspect of site building and content development. When it is done effectively, it creates an outstanding user experience for the consumer, further building their trust in the company.
The main goal of SEO is to demonstrate your value to the search engines. When they know your value, your pages will rank highly for queries relevant to your content. The importance of SEO comes from its ability to help customers find you easily.
How search engine optimization works
Google ‘reads’ the websites available online with their spiders. These spiders look for key bits of information that signal to them the topics and value of the content on each webpage. The spiders, of course, cannot really read. This means that they will look for certain terms and examine the site organization to find clues about the value of the site. Here are some of the aspects of SEO that form the basis of any strategy.
Aspects of Search Engine Optimization
- Keyword optimization
Keywords are often spoken about when people discuss the importance of SEO. Keywords refer to terms you write about, trying to match the keywords that your target audience uses in searches.
It is important to realize, however, that keywords alone are not enough. Google does not want to see text that is filled with endless repetitions of the same keyword or keyword phrase. Text like this reads poorly and contributes to a poor user experience.
Instead, Google wants to see high-value keywords, but also semantic keywords. Semantic keywords refers to the other terms you will likely use when discussing a particular term. For example, if you write about the topic “how to grow a garden”, you would likely see terms regarding seeds, fertilizer, plots, and different kinds of vegetables or flowers.
Note the presence of semantic keywords in the meta descriptions of the top three site results for this query.
The semantic terms you use give Google more insight into what precisely you discuss regarding this topic and the level of depth you offer. Content that does not use many related keywords may be viewed as shallow and not offering the value that customers want to see.
- The site construction and organization
Google and its algorithm also look at the organization of the site. A clear site map makes it easy for Google to navigate the site. It also helps to ensure that the spider does not miss any of the pages of the site while it scans the domain.
A clear site map and easy navigation also contributes to the user experience. When users can easily move throughout your site, they become better engaged with the content. It also enhances their ability to convert and then become a paying customer.
A part of site construction also includes site load speed. Pages that load slowly on any device will be marked poorly by Google and also abandoned by viewers that do make it to the site. Brands need to take the time to carefully consider how they construct their site, including the images and videos they use, to be confident that everything has been created to ensure an optimal load time.
- Site errors
Site errors also negatively impact SEO. Site errors disrupt the user experience and make it harder for visitors to find the content they want to see. Google looks down on these types of mistakes and they will hurt rankings for the pages. Part of SEO consists of running a site audit and checking that all error pages, poorly done redirects, duplicate pages, and similar types of mistakes are cleaned up.
A simple site audit will look something like this and tell you any errors you might have on your site. You can run this site audit through a variety of different programs, but we recommend you hire an SEO company to audit your site so they can correct it for you as soon as possible.
- Mobile optimization
Of course, SEO would not be complete without a discussion of mobile optimization. Google has noted that more searches now take place on mobile devices than desktop. In response, they have updated their requirements to improve mobile optimization.
Beginning in 2015, Google rolled out their so-called mobilegeddon update. According to this update, sites that were not mobile-friendly were going to be hurt in rankings. Being mobile ready can take a few different forms, including having a designated mobile site or using responsive design to adjust the site to any size screen.
Since Google implemented their mobile first indexing, it is now necessary for all websites to have a responsive mobile site too. With this new update, Google now looks first at the mobile construction of the website. The search engine ranks the websites depending on the mobile devices’ user experience.
Thus, if your website has a desktop and mobile versions, the one that will be indexed is the mobile site. So if you have a non responsive mobile site, then you will surely miss out a lot of potential traffic and conversion for your business.
To succeed in this mobile-first world, brands need to use mobile SEO to ensure that their content has been created correctly. The site should be easy to navigate with fingers. It should also load well on mobile devices, be easy to read, and avoid any pop-ups or other types of text that might disrupt the mobile-user experience.
To fully optimize for mobile, brands must focus on creating sites for mobile users, instead of just creating a site that works on their devices.
Overcoming objections to SEO
The most common objections that businesses raise regarding SEO revolve around the time needed and the investment. It can take a few weeks to a few months to see real results from an SEO initiative, which makes it difficult to find the resources to invest in optimization now.
Fortunately, there are some business results that brands can see right away from an SEO investment. Although the most significant results might take time, the positive changes seen with SEO can benefit customers, and therefore the business, right away.
- Improved visibility as site rankings improve. As brands fix errors in their sites and select particular keywords that they want to optimize their content for, they will start to gain ranking positions. Although they might not make it into the top SERP spots right away, they can still boost their visibility and start to see improved organic performance.
- Better engagement with site users. As brands start to pay attention to the importance of SEO and thus begin to clean up their websites, they will improve the user experience. It will be easier for people to get around the site and find what they need. This will improve the reputation of the site. It will also boost engagement with users and encourage more leads to convert to customers.
- Improved user experience. Cleaning up site errors will help to eliminate duplicate content, errors, or poor redirects. This will also improve the user experience.
Brands commonly feel concerned about the financial investment in SEO. Hiring several new employees can be a drain on the budget, particularly when people add in the tools needed to maximize site optimization. Fortunately, there are ways to work around this stress as well.
SEO agencies can give brands access to highly experienced professionals. These agency partners already use the major SEO tools, reducing the need for further investment. Since brands do not need to worry about additional employee salaries or paying benefits, they can also reduce some expenses.
Those who do not want to go the agency route can also get started with SEO with their current in-house marketing team. Providing training opportunities can help these professionals learn the basics so they can start to build a successful site.
When brands take a long-term look at the importance of SEO, however, they will see that the benefits only multiply the longer they remain focused on the power of optimization. As your SEO improves, the returns you receive will far outweigh your initial investment.
The Importance of SEO Now and in the Future
1. Brand building
Brand building can help create powerful organizations. When people recognize your logo, colors, and name with a positive reputation that precedes you, it can help build greater trust with prospects. SEO and digital marketing can help capitalize on this.
These top results for the query “how to design a kitchen” cast themselves as industry leaders and will build more trust with people.
As already discussed, consumers use the internet to research pain point solutions, products, and services. A strong presence online will build your brand and increase your market share. Your site will regularly pop up for searches relevant to your organization. Customers will become familiar with your name and business.
A strong online presence will encompass many channels. A complete SEO strategy will involve employing platforms, such as social media. Your brand will be present to customers throughout their digital lives, enhancing recognition and leads.
2. Better positions on the SERP
Your position on the SERP will play a large role in the number of clicks you receive. According to Advanced Web Ranking, the top three positions alone on the SERP receive an average of 60% of all the clicks. This means that the higher your site appears, the more results you will gain from your efforts.
Focusing on the importance of SEO will help you improve your rankings. As Google recognizes the value that your site offers users in this sector, you will rank higher. SEO helps you to communicate better with the search engine algorithms. Your topic will become clearer to the search engine spiders. You will also let the search engines know for which queries you will be relevant.
Customers associate higher rankings on the SERP with industry leaders. Google’s algorithm carefully sorts through content to find the material that provides the most value to the customer and works to separate the content that people can trust from that which they cannot.
Customers know that Google’s algorithm generally returns them the sites that will provide them with the best answer. This builds trust. When you earn some of the top ranking positions on the SERP, it provides an excellent platform to promote yourself as an industry leader and someone these consumers can trust.
3. More traffic
As you build your rankings, you will be in a greater position to boost your traffic. SEO best practices include optimizing both your titles and meta descriptions to make your topic clear. This lets your customers know precisely what your piece offers. Customers want to know that your site will address their needs. Optimizing these aspects of your site will help persuade them to click.
When you combine these elements with the stronger site rankings you get through optimization, you will see increases in your traffic rates. More people will come to your website. As you introduce more people to your websites, you will also nurture more opportunities for people to become leads and then convert. The importance of SEO cannot be underestimated when it comes to organic revenue growth.
4. Higher percentage of traffic becoming leads
SEO will also increase the percentage of your traffic that becomes leads. SEO focuses on understanding what prospective customers want to see and then fulfilling those needs. Creating a strong SEO strategy, therefore, will result in a site that is tailored more towards your target customers.
With SEO, you need to analyze your sales funnel and determine what people want to see at each stage. You will be able to map your target customer personas to their stages of the buyer’s journey, and thus create more effective content.
With content that better engages your visitors, you will be able to lead your prospects through the sales funnel more easily. Customers will be able to find the content they want and you will know how to move them to the next level. This will result in a higher percentage of conversions at each stage.
5. Business growth outside of geographic boundaries
With traditional marketing, businesses often remain confined to their immediate geographic area. You promote yourself with direct mail, radio broadcast, and billboards, for example, which only people who live in your area see.
With SEO, you have the opportunity to expand your reach beyond your region. You can do business with people across the country.
By understanding the importance of SEO and creating an optimized site, your page can rank highly on SERPs for people in a number of different locations. When your content is relevant, it will appear regardless of whether the prospect lives next door or thousands of miles away.
SEO, therefore, provides your organization with greater room to grow. You have the chance to expand your prospective audience and thus increase your reach. You will be able to expand your business on a level that would not have been possible previously.
6. Greater understanding of what customers want to see
Customers today like to know that businesses understand their pain points. They want to work with companies who address their individual needs. Modern customers want to nurture relationships with businesses and not be viewed as only a number.
Amazon’s level of personal service, including personal recommendations, would not be possible without SEO and digital marketing.
To serve these customers, both online and offline, you want to intimately understand your customers. This means going deeper than targeting people within a particular age range. You want to understand people’s behavior and why they do certain actions.
Before SEO and digital marketing, businesses relied on market research and basic analysis of their own merchandise. They used market research to identify trends in their consumer habits, for example, and would use sales data to see which products and services were the most popular with customers. SEO, however, offers an entirely new level to the ability to understand the customer.
Through paying attention to the importance of SEO, you will begin to monitor customer behavior on your website. You will see your bounce rates, how often people click through your site and where they go, your rate of abandoned shopping carts, and your rate of repeat customers.
Through social media, you can listen and participate in the conversations of these consumers. You can receive feedback both from those frustrated with your organization and those pleased. You can use this information to improve your offerings. These behaviors were significantly harder, if not impossible to track before the birth of SEO and measuring these metrics.
The importance of SEO, and the consequential tracing of website behavior, improves the ability of brands to understand their customers. The consumer’s desire for a personalized experience and feeling as though the brand cares about them as a unique individual becomes possible.
Before SEO and digital marketing, brands were limited by what they could determine from broad market research and some behavioral analysis of their organization. With SEO, however, they can analyze customer behavior on an intimate level, creating a far superior brand experience.
SEO requires brands to make an investment. Without immediate results, like the ones a traditional ad campaign can produce, it can be hard to make that jump. As you begin to understand the long-term importance of SEO for your organization, it should become easier to take those first steps towards digital success. The longer you invest in SEO, and the more intense your dedication, the the easier it will be to see how the benefits you derive from this strategy easily pay for the effort you have put in.