You may have heard people say that SEO is an important part of digital marketing strategy – but never understood why. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It involves both on-page SEO and off-page SEO tactics such as optimizing the content for keywords, improving page loading speeds, and building up authority backlinks. These aim to help a search engine such as Google understand what your website is about and establish your website as a trusted source of information that provides a good user experience.
A website that has good SEO can have good search engine rankings and appear in the top few results in search engine results pages. This in turn can lead to a significantly increased amount of traffic to your website via organic search. Think about the times you search for something on Google. Most of us never make it to the second page of the search engine results. If we can find our answers within the top 3 results, some of us may not even scroll down to the second half of the page.
This is why SEO is important for businesses as it helps to drive more visibility and traffic to the website.
How Does SEO Work?
Google “best chicken rice in Singapore” and you’ll see a few things. You might see a Google maps widget and up to three businesses listed with ratings and reviews. Following that, you may see some paid search ads and then organic search results.
How did Google select these businesses and websites to appear in the top positions? Why are certain businesses listed on the top when they are, in your opinion, not the best chicken rice in Singapore?
It’s not rocket science, but it’s not that simple. The concept behind search engine optimization is to make sure that users can find your website if you can provide the solutions that they are looking for. This means ensuring that you show up higher in search results if your webpage is relevant to the search query, in turn increasing organic traffic to your website.
These sites may have done some SEO work to provide quality content and attach certain keywords, increased their visibility by asking customers to leave reviews on Google, or asked other bigger sites with more authority to link to their site, showing Google that it’s a trusted business.
It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in. If people search online to find your business, you can benefit from SEO.
Why SEO is Important For Businesses?
Some business owners may ask these questions:
- Why should I care about SEO when my company can give a better product or service than other companies out there with no SEO knowledge?
- Why can’t I just make a website and expect people to find me when they need my services or products?
- Why should anyone care about SEO anymore when there are social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram?
- Why would I care about Google’s search algorithms if I am getting visitors anyway?
- Why would anyone think optimizing for search engines would help them get more customers?
- Why do internet companies have such an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar companies?
Here are the answers to those questions:
1. It’s a long-term Traffic Generation Technique
SEO is a long-term traffic generation technique. You might not see immediate benefits in the short term but generates more website traffic over time.
Unlike paid traffic, which allows you to see results instantly and quantify benefits against advertising dollars spent, SEO takes months to start bringing in results. You will need to research the keyword that your customers are using, determine their ease of ranking and profitability, and create relevant content pages that are useful for your users.
Once a few customers land on your site from Google, spend a significant amount of time on your web pages, and click on some links, search engines will begin to notice and send more and more visitors your way. If you are continuously optimizing your content for search, you should start seeing results after a few months.
Once your website is seen as an authority, you will keep on enjoying free traffic for as long as your website is online. You don’t have to pay per visitor. To keep on ranking, ensure you publish fresh content regularly, get customer data, and use it to optimize already existing content to boost conversions.
2. Establishes Authority
SEO helps to establish your website as an authority in a particular niche. Research shows that websites in the first and second position of the search results get 45% of search traffic.
If your business website has top search rankings and visibility, it can establish a good reputation for the brand and increase brand awareness. Imagine if someone searches for “best home renovation services” and your website shows up in the top 5. Users will have the impression that you are a major player in the market with a strong reputation.
However, it’s not easy to grab the top rankings for your site in a highly competitive keyword. That’s why it’s essential to target a specified audience. With a narrow niche, you can rank faster rather than targeting a broad niche with many competitors. For example, ranking for a key phrase such as “women’s dresses” is easier than ranking for the general keyword “dresses”.
3. Establishes Trust
Many people are searching for services online. Search engines, such as Google, play a great role in bringing businesses and customers together. Even if you’re a newer business or less well-known, potential customers can learn about you if they find you via a search engine and eventually decide to buy from you. Local SEO can help every business to increase its visibility and generate more leads and customers.
Even if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, a strong online presence and good search rankings can mean more website traffic for people to learn more about your business. This in turn can translate to more visitors to your physical store and more offline sales.
Search engines also rank websites based on the customer experience. The more time that people spend on your website, the stronger the signal you’re sending to the search engines that your site is useful to visitors. You develop trust and rank higher in search engines, increasing your visibility on the web.
4. SEO is an Excellent Lead Generation Strategy
No paid ads or traditional marketing billboards and posters are needed here. SEO is one of the top-of-funnel lead acquisition techniques that is almost free after you’ve put in all the initial work to write blog articles and web pages. Your articles are evergreen and people can continually search for them, unlike social media content which can become outdated quickly. Blog content typically provides value, which positions your business and brand as an expert and makes SEO the best inbound content marketing strategy.
It all begins with keyword research. After identifying the phrases your customers use to search for solutions online, you can create content geared towards solving those problems and optimizing them for the selected keywords. This also increases conversion rates because you can draw traffic with the right search intent, and continue to optimize based on the data you see from your customers.
5. Target Specific Customers
SEO allows you to target specific customers with specific search intents. You can even target commercial search intent such as “price of X”, “buy”, or “discount”. These queries are typically used by people who are ready to purchase and already know what they want so they are in their final decision-making stage.
Rather than generalizing and get traffic with zero sales, SEO allows you to target a specific cohort of customers who are more likely to buy. You can also identify long-tail keywords that are more specific about the intent of the buyer. Combine this research with highly relevant content and strong links, and your brand can rank well on search results and gain visibility.
6. Improves the Customer Experience
Your website speed matters a lot for on-page SEO. You can leverage websites like Pingdom to improve load times. The design of your website has an impact too and should clearly present information that your customer needs.
You can also measure goals via Google Analytics such as conversion rates, which helps you to make more informed decisions about how to improve the user experience. This is unlike offline channels such as print advertising when it is difficult to optimize and measure the success of the marketing campaign.
More time spent on your website and lower bounce rates can indicate to search engines that the user experience is positive, which can lead to a better search ranking.
7. Reach users in different Stages of the Customer Journey
There are at least four main stages that a prospect goes through before converting to a sale:
When a customer inputs a search phrase into the search bar, they will be in one of the four stages above. Some search with the interest to know more (for example, you want to learn more about why SEO is important). You can write high-quality content that matches that informational intent. Others are aware of what they want and are looking to buy, so you can easily convert them with more promotional content.
SEO allows you to target all these customers based on the keywords they will use. In addition, unlike paid traffic, which only generates traffic when you activate a campaign, SEO drives traffic to your site 24/7. You don’t have to worry about advertising budgets and overpaying for a lead. Local SEO can even improve your offline sales since some customers will opt to visit your brick-and-mortar business.
Which businesses can’t benefit from SEO?
Despite its potential to being effective for almost all businesses, SEO may not be the right digital marketing strategy for some types of businesses. Here are some of them:
Businesses offering New Products or Services
People can’t search for new products or services if they don’t know what it is. A user would not have known to search for ride-hailing services or carpooling if they didn’t know what they were. SEO optimizes the ranking of a web page for existing searches that are already taking place.
In such cases, the most important thing is to create awareness first. A brand may rely on paid advertising on social media platforms in the beginning and turn to SEO later on when their product or service has become more established and there are more organic searches.
Businesses looking for Results Fast
With SEO, you might not see results for a month or two. There are many competitors on the web who are also doing SEO as well and it can take time to get a share of their traffic if they are an industry competitor. Hence, for businesses that want results immediately, SEO might not work here.
It can take months for Google or Bing to crawl your website content and understand what your business is about, recognize your site as a trusted authority and start ranking your site. It also takes time to gather enough data to optimize your content, write more high-quality blog articles and optimize the user experience.
Businesses that are Promoting events or One-time offerings
Some businesses promote one-time offers or an event that only lasts for a day or two. In that case, SEO might not work since it can take weeks or months for site indexing. The most effective digital marketing strategy for these events or offerings would have to be pay-per-click ads or social media advertising.
Businesses without a long-term Budget to invest in SEO
You will need a significant amount of resources upfront if you want to invest in SEO. There are costs incurred in keyword research, content creation, and a whole lot of other tools. It’s recommended that you should maintain the consistency of the work when doing SEO even if you’re not seeing results at first.
What to Consider when coming up with a Winning SEO strategy?
There are a few things to consider when coming up with an SEO strategy for your business.
The amount of time you’re willing to spend on SEO
There is no one strategy that will work for every website and with every keyword. You may need to focus more on different aspects whether it’s high-quality content or links. SEO requires an upfront investment in content and links in the beginning and it can take a longer time to gather user data to start optimizing.
Some businesses only focus on local SEO because they have tight budgets. Some are willing to invest in online brand awareness so they can create informational content that doesn’t necessarily lead directly to a conversion.
On the other hand, some businesses choose to focus their limited budget on content and less on links, while some businesses may put some spend into on-page SEO but focus the rest on links.
Search engine optimization works best for a company targeting keywords with a lot of search volume. Otherwise, it can take very long to see results from your SEO efforts because there simply aren’t enough searchers.
Consider how you can target keywords with sufficient search volumes and yet are still relevant to your company or industry.
The next thing you should keep in mind is how competitive your keywords are in relation to other sites currently using the same terminology. If the competition is high, you might need a lot of resources to achieve success in ranking for these keywords. You may need to find less popular phrases or keyword combinations if you want to stand out.
You need an SEO Expert
SEO is a powerful inbound content marketing technique, which can grow your business and turn your website into an asset that continues to achieve top search engine rankings, drive traffic and generate revenue. Once your website is an authority, if you completely stopped spending on SEO, you can still continue to generate traffic from potential customers and sales although not as much as if you continually invested in SEO.
However, it requires a proper budget to get there and results take time. The right SEO strategy is extremely important to optimize your digital marketing efforts, improve your page rankings, and ensure that you’re achieving maximum results with limited resources.