For many business and website owners, the acronym “SEO” evokes the same dread as “IRS.”
According to some recent research by business directory service Clutch, SEO (search engine optimization) is last on the list of preferred online marketing strategies. Just 44 percent of businesses surveyed said they include SEO in their digital marketing strategy.
So why, in an era when nearly everybody uses Google to research before they buy, would a business dismiss marketing tactics that improve its chances of being found in a search?
Search Engine Optimization Should Be Integral to Your Website
In the article reporting its research, Clutch suggests that businesses just don’t understand SEO and its relationship to other digital marketing strategies. That disconnect is illustrated by another finding in the survey — websites are the second-most popular digital marketing channel. The irony is that a website without SEO is like a map without street names. Your site visitors will be lucky to find what they’re looking for without it.
A second factor, the article suggests, is that search optimization takes too long to show results. That’s certainly true. It can take several months to see growth in search-driven website traffic, but once it begins to take hold, each incremental improvement acts as a foundation for future organic traffic increases.
What exactly is search engine optimization? Moz.com offers a solid, simple definition of SEO: It is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” To clarify a little further, search engine results are either “organic” or “paid.” Paid results come from search advertising like Google Ads or Bing Ads.
Three Key Elements of SEO
Creating and executing a strategy to improve organic search engine results requires a time investment, but if you know your business and your customers well, it’s not difficult. Here are three primary elements to good website SEO:
- Does the text on your site match the words used in search queries? If you want people to find you when they search for “divorce lawyer,” your website had better include text that says “divorce lawyer.”
- Is your website easy to use? In other words, is your site built to current standards; does it load quickly; and does it have clear navigation?
- Who else likes your site? Do any other sites link back to your content? The more sites that do, the more likely it is that search engines will say, “If those folks like your site, so do we.”
There are going to be some SEO experts and purists who insist there’s a lot more to it, but it boils down to whether your words match a search query, whether your site is easy to use and whether any other sites think your stuff is cool, too. The hardest thing to accomplish is getting other sites to link back to you; it’s more difficult to control. But the first two elements are completely within your control, and with a little time and a dash of research, you can begin optimizing your website so that searchers find you instead of your competitors.
The Value of Organic Search Traffic
Why is organic search traffic important? For starters, it is more valuable than traffic from other sources such as referrals, paid ads or social media. When someone arrives at your website through a search, it means that person was intentionally looking for the service or product you offer. At Dream Local Digital, when we study the analytics for our clients’ sites, we see that, in general, visitors from organic search visit more pages and spend more time on the site than visitors from other sources. And both of those metrics are precursors to more sales or conversions.
Secondly, time or money spent on improving SEO acts just like an investment in stocks or real estate. With the proper attention and maintenance, your site traffic will continue to grow. As more searchers click to your site, the search engines will show your search result more and more, resulting in more traffic, which then results in being shown more often on search results pages, and the growth continues.
And the best part about an investment in SEO? The IRS won’t tax your extra traffic.