Search engine optimization – SEO for short – is incredibly important for any business that wants more organic Website traffic.
Today, that’s every business – for the simple reason that in a digital-first world, your Website is the single most important and valuable marketing tool at your disposal.
Why? Because, regardless if you’re in eCommerce, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), FinTech, telecoms or any other digital/tech field, your Website serves as your online shop window.
Your Website is where you create those lasting first impressions of your brand. It’s where you legitimize your existence and position in the market. It’s also the primary source of information about your products and/or services for your existing and potential customers. The information attracts their attention, and your Website then captures their contact information, which leads to more inquiries and purchases. In addition, your Website gathers reams and reams of data about the people who visit it – conversion rates, bounce rates, downloads, referrals, engaged reading times and sales – which you then use to understand them better and be able to market to them more effectively.
Your Website is a magnificent sales and marketing tool, which is precisely why SEO is so important – it makes your Website discoverable to Web users.
A good SEO strategy will improve your Website’s overall visibility, make it easier for prospects to find you and boost your search engine rankings. Those are the main reasons – but how do they translate into actual business value?
Let’s examine specifically and precisely why SEO is so valuable as a digital marketing discipline.
SEO Builds Trust and Credibility and Gives You a Competitive Edge
Today, the online market is more competitive than ever. Each day, Google and other search engines serve millions of users looking for answers to questions, solutions to problems, products to purchase and companies with which to do business. Google holds the lion’s share of the search engine market, handling almost 90% of all search queries. Though the company doesn’t share search volume data, it is estimated Google processes approximately 70,000 search queries every second – or 5.8 billion searches per day – with the average Internet user conducting from three to four searches daily.
These users are searching for content – and Google provides them with access to reams and reams of it. In fact, there are now more than 1.7 billion Websites competing for the attention of users, and millions of new blog posts published daily, half a billion tweets and hundreds of thousands of hours of YouTube videos. Visit Internet Live Stats to watch the numbers zooming higher – here’s a quick screenshot of what’s happening today at the time of writing.
Your Website is just one online resource amongst billions of others. Here’s the thing – even though Google may retrieve millions of results in search engine results pages (SERPs) in response to a search query, most Internet users are only concerned with the first ten that are displayed on page one – and the closer your listing is to the top of the first page, the better.
SEO Hacker recently compiled a list of click-through rates (CTRs) of first- and second-page search results which illustrate the point.
As you can see, if your listing appears on a SERP many pages from the first page, then the likelihood of a user clicking through to your Website decreases dramatically. In fact, the second-place result generates four times fewer clicks than the first-place ranker – and 90% of all clicks happen on the first page. As SEO Hacker puts it, “This means that if you are ranking on the second page of SERPs, you instantly lose out on 90% of your target market. Meaning you’re losing potential customers. Meaning you’re losing sales. Meaning you’re losing profits. Meaning you’re losing money.”
The data above clearly reveals the value of SEO is a no-brainer.
Being on the first page of Google establishes trust and credibility. Ranking first, second, third, fourth or fifth creates the impression among your potential customers that you are one of the top players in your industry. It shows you are popular and Google algorithms recognize your Website and send many new visitors to it.
As such, it’s hardly surprising that inbound marketing practices, such as SEO and content marketing, are the primary source of quality leads for sales teams. Sixty-percent of marketers ranked these practices as their top source of leads in HubSpot’s most recent State of Inbound report, significantly outranking self-sourced leads and outbound practices, such as cold calling and traditional advertisements.
It’s quite simple: SEO puts your brand in front of your target customers – the crucial first step on the path to purchase. It must be remembered, however, that SEO also works for your competitors as they strive for the best position – so the higher you rank, the more traffic (and subsequently leads and sales) you’ll steal from them. A solid SEO strategy can make that happen.
Good SEO Improves the User Experience
User experience (UX) is critical to a Website’s success. Google has become extremely sophisticated at not only helping users find what they seek, but also understanding user behavior. In fact, Google employs one of the most advanced data-mining operations in the world. From that data, Google’s algorithms are continuously tweaked to ensure searchers receive more of what they want, and less of what they don’t.
A great experience is one of the things users want when visiting a Website. They want to be able to find the information they’re seeking quickly, easily and with the fewest number of clicks possible. Google considers many UX elements when determining how to rank your Website. Is your site fast, secure and mobile-friendly? Is it quick to load and easy to navigate? Is it filled with high-quality content that keeps users engaged for much more time?
During 2015, Google introduced RankBrain – a machine-learning algorithm Google uses to help sort and improve search results – considered to be the third most significant factor in determining the SEO value of your Website, after links and content. Behavior metrics partially drives RankBrain, and it takes user experience into account.
RankBrain has two main jobs:
- Understanding search queries (keywords)
- Measuring how people interact with results (user satisfaction)
Analysis of, for example, how many pages a Web user visited per session, bounce rates, dwell times and organic click-through rates determine UX. Essentially, these metrics inform RankBrain whether users are enjoying the experience on your Website. How? If a user visits your site multiple times, moves through it with ease and spends much time on it, then RankBrain tells the search engine that your Website is providing a good user experience and will reward your site with a higher ranking. Conversely, if the majority of users are exiting your Website as soon as they enter and return to the SERPs, then they clearly cannot find the information or engagement they want, resulting in a lower ranking.
As such, a major focus of SEO today is improving the user experience – and this is great for business. By structuring your sitein a manner that helps your users complete their tasks, find the information they need and streamlines the path to purchase, you’ll not only ensure you have low bounce rates, high CTRs and dwell times, and generate more leadsand sales, but also you will enjoy a much higher ranking for your efforts (and even more traffic, leads and sales will follow).
The importance of SEO in digital marketing is undeniable. In fact, it is nothing short of vital when establishing a business presence in the hyper-competitive online world. You needto be on the first page of Google to generate the amount of traffic required to build brand awareness, generate leads, close sales and increase profits.
Solid SEO practices will enable you to do it all – and improve the user experience while you’re at it. SEO isn’t easy, however. In fact, beyond links, content and RankBrain, it is thought that there are approximately 200 SEO ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. You won’t find a silver bullet in SEO. It requires a solid strategy, a well-documented plan and an experienced team of SEO professionals to execute it.
GoTo Marketers is an award-winning, full-service digital marketing agency. We are proven experts in B2B and B2C marketing strategies and tactics, including SEO, Web design, content marketing, link building and lead generation. Get in touch to find out how our proactive marketing and SEO solutions can grow your business and derive maximum value from the marketing you want, need and deserve.