Despite the clamoring for the past decade that SEO is going to die, it’s still there. It has just changed dramatically over the years. It’s still a value-driver for your business. In case you aren’t familiar with SEO and its importance, here’s a brief introduction.
What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a set of techniques designed to make your website easy for search engines to classify. These techniques tell search engine crawlers what your site is about and how each page relates to other pages. Search engines take the information from your website and use proprietary algorithms to rank different sites in relation to one another. Their goal is to provide the most relevant page for any given search. Thus, at its heart, SEO is all about making search engines happy.
Why Does SEO Increase Value?
If people carefully evaluated the first, say, 10 results of every query to find the best option for them, SEO may not be that big of a deal. But the fact is that the top three links in any search query get the lion’s share of all clicks. Over half of all clicks go to the first 10 results. If your site isn’t among those top ten in a query, you’re not getting nearly the amount of attention you could be getting. Worse, your competition may be getting it instead.
The value increase in having good SEO is easy to see, given these facts. If you are relying on people to find your business through a search so you can make money online, you have to have a high enough position on the keywords your audience is using to get the answers they’re looking for. It’s a complicated dance between you, your competitors (and this includes all sites using your keywords), and search engine algorithms.
However, it’s very hard to get to the top. This is why things like Pay Per Click ads are so popular, and make Google so much money. SEO is free beyond the costs of creating and hosting your site. But there are other good reasons to do SEO besides trying to increase business.
First, sites that make proper SEO efforts often look much more professional. Google has an entire set of guidelines (PDF link) for creating websites that are friendly to its search engine. Second, search engines may link your site to related keywords that you aren’t focusing on. By writing your site copy to be SEO-friendly, you help search engines relate your sites to these other words. Some of these may bring unexpected traffic. Third, if you ever do get into PPC advertising your SEO efforts will help your ad campaign.
Isn’t SEO A Slow Process?
Yes, it can be. Among the factors search engines use for ranking sites is the age of the page. It takes time to craft copy and to build a good backlink profile and all the other things you need to do. This is one reason why many businesses don’t put in the work to maximize their SEO potential, another factor is choosing the right marketing strategy to see results..
If your goal is just to generate traffic, PPC is a faster way of doing so. Some search engines also have features that can throw information about a business straight to the top of a page, like Google My Business does for local businesses. Increasingly, people are getting more information directly from a search engine about a business or a topic without ever clicking through to another page.
But that doesn’t mean that SEO doesn’t work. It does. A top rank for a query means that the search engine thinks your content is so good that it deserves the top spot. There is a brand boost that comes with being among the top spots in a search. You probably have an instinctive trust of top search results yourself. As long as we trust those top results to give us what we’re looking for, it’s worth the effort to get those high rankings.
Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google