In addition, 97% of consumers look for local businesses online while 70% visit a store based on information found on the Internet.
Whether you run an online or offline business, you need to get found by the right prospects in order to drive more traffic and increase sales. Appearing on the relevant search engine result pages (SERPs) is one of the most cost-effective ways to attract more visitors.
But it isn’t enough just to get listed on SERPs. Since 75% of users don’t scroll past the first page of Google and 92% of searchers pick businesses on the first page of search results – it’s important to rank high in relevant searches.
Not to mention, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be accomplished by voice search, which only delivers the top ranking results. As such, getting to the top of SERPs has become more critical than ever.
How can you get Google’s attention?
What’s SEO and How It Works
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It refers to the use of tactics that increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through organic search engine results (i.e., traffic you don’t have to pay for.)
Most businesses use SEO strategies to attract visitors that are interested in their products or services and have high purchase intent, which is often indicated by the key terms used in their queries.
Search engines have crawlers that gather information on the Internet and use the data to create an index for each site, which is then fed through an algorithm designed to match the criteria in a user’s query.
The algorithms use a variety of “signals” to assess the quality and relevance of the content on each webpage (e.g., bounce rate, dwell time, links from authority sites), which is then used to determine the page’s search engine ranking.
The Benefits Of Using SEO For Your Business
SEO is a cost-effective inbound marketing strategy that can help you:
- Drive high-quality traffic and get found by prospects that are actively looking for your products or services and therefore, more likely to make a purchase.
- Reinforce your brand’s online presence, build brand awareness, improve visibility, and increase credibility.
- Boost your close rate and increase the ROI of your marketing budget. SEO leads have an average close rate of 14.6%, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads.
- Improve the usability of your website – most optimization strategies also improve user experience, which can increase conversion rates.
- Gain access to customer data, such as traffic source and consumer behaviors, to inform other marketing tactics.
The Difference Between SEO and Paid Online Advertising (PPC Ads)
Now you may wonder, why invest the time and resources to optimize your website if you could just use pay-per-click (PPC) ads to promote your links on SERPs?
While online ads may get you some “quick wins,” they drive traffic only for as long as you’re paying for the clicks and can become costly in the long run.
In addition, the cost-per-click is often volatile since it’s affected by many factors that are not under your control. You’d have to monitor the campaigns constantly to optimize your budget.
On the other hand, after you have optimized your website for SEO, there are minimal ongoing costs to attract high-quality visitors in the long term. In fact, your ranking is likely to improve over time as you build up the site’s “SEO juice.”
Not to mention, most people trust Google’s algorithm to provide the most relevant information in organic searches. Even though PPC ads appear above organic search results, 71.33% of searchers click on organic results, which account for 64% of all referral traffic.
Getting Started With SEO
While keywords are still important in SEO, they’re no longer the “be-all-end-all” as search engine algorithms evolve.
Search engines consider many factors when ranking websites. “Signals” such as high-quality content, site structure and navigation, user engagement, formatting, keywords, site speed, mobile optimization, and backlinks are used to evaluate a website’s relevance in relation to a search term and determine its ranking in specific searches.
One of the keys to effective SEO is publishing fresh, relevant, and high-quality content frequently. In fact, 72% of online marketers consider content marketing the most effective SEO tactic.
It’s therefore essential to identify the search terms your target audience will use during the different stages of their customer journey so you can optimize the appropriate content for the right search terms.
SEO: Focus On the Long Game
While SEO is an essential and cost-effective long-term strategy to generate “free” traffic, it’s important to understand the various factors that could affect how quickly you’ll see results so you can set the right expectations.
These variables include competition, market demand, inbound links, and the quality of the content.
For most businesses, it takes at least 6 to 12 months to achieve tangible results. The good news is that once you start ranking and generating traffic, your results will “snowball” and you’ll experience increasing ROI from the “free traffic.”
As such, SEO should be used as a long-term marketing tactic since the longer you keep at it, the better results you’ll get.
To get the most out of SEO, you need to dial in the many moving parts – from content and inbound links to the technical pieces on your website (e.g., site speed, schema markup) – while keeping up with the frequent algorithm updates to stay ahead of your competition.
Don’t forget to collect data and analyze relevant metrics to fine-tune your strategies and optimize your campaigns regularly.
Having a dedicated expert who is up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices is the key to success. Instead of stretching in-house marketing resources too thin, you can work with a freelance SEO expert to get the best results without the overhead of hiring a full-time employee.