Why Is SEO So Important?
The need for local businesses to rank organically is more relevant and competitive than ever. The Google map pack now only features three local business listings. Currently large directory and lead generation sites, like Angies List or Thumbtack, often makeup at least 50% of the remaining search results followed by ads taking up even more space at the top makes ranking organically much harder.
Every business that wants to be competitive in today’s world knows the importance of having a strong online presence, but there are many different forms that can take. SEO, PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing all are examples of broad terms that can take many different forms in helping a business reach out to potential customers online. While it is easy to get intimidated and feel overwhelmed by so many choices and the ever-changing number of online websites, there’s no question that search engine optimization (SEO) remains one of the most important strategies for website owners of all kinds.
Potential Customers Look Online First
There seems to be a perception that the far majority of young buyers jump online to do all their shopping. This is only partially true. While generations that are generally labeled Generation X and Millennials tend to do the far majority of their shopping online (or at least start out with a search), the truth is that this habit is far more widespread than even the most optimistic online retailers have previously thought.
According to GE Capital Retail Bank’s big report on retail, their “Major Purchase Shopper Study,” an incredible 81% of all individuals who made a major purchase either started online or jumped online to do research before completing the purchase. This is across all age groups and demographics, which goes to show just how utterly necessary being found online is for any business that wants to truly thrive.
If you specialize in business to business (B2B) transactions the numbers might be even more skewed. In a different study that was trying to determine how businesses make major purchases in the B2B realm, over 94% reported doing at least some (if not extensive) research before making a purchase.
Who gets all those visitors who can become new or repeating customers? Whoever is ranking one page one of Google and the other search engines. With very few exceptions, the winners of the online game are the ones who rank on the first page of the search engines for major keywords. This is why SEO is so important: because it is the one process that will get you up to those coveted organic spots.
The Front Page Is Prime Real Estate
Many studies are done every single year to figure out just how important every place on the front page (and the following pages) are. While the numbers can sometimes vary by a couple of percentage points, in general the averages stay mostly the same. Over 33% of all searches end with the very first organic listing.
In other words, that number one spot is going to get the attention (and business) of one out of three online searchers. That is a lot of power, a lot of branding, and a lot of business. In the overwhelming number of cases, it is also going to take SEO work to get to that #1 spot for most major keywords or even local business keywords.
In addition to that, over 90% of all searchers will never go to page 2. These numbers are a touch controversial, but not in a way that would encourage people who don’t believe in investing in SEO. At best, second page gets 10% of all searches. That number is as small as 4-5% based on other studies.
If the search engines were a game of Monopoly first page would be Boardwalk and Park Place, and page two and beyond is all Baltic Avenue at that point.
If a simple SEO campaign can move a business locally even from #12 for their keywords to #9 or #10, it’s worth it. That is a huge jump in the amount of visitors and buyers that will be exposed to them.
Some People Simply Won’t Click Ads
Over 90% of all clicks end up on the actual website listings. This doesn’t mean that pay per click advertising is a rip off: in many cases it is a way for a business to get attention right now, but it does show that with only 10% of searchers clicking on ads, you need a better long term plan to make sure you prosper and thrive.
This is a major reason why SEO is so important, because some people won’t click on ads and that means the only way to reach them is to get your website ranking up there in the organic listings. There are other studies that show over 30% of people won’t click on anything they know is an ad – showing just how much demand there is for those natural listings.
Who Goes To Facebook To Buy?
While social media marketing does have its place when it comes to branding, it’s important to answer the question of: “Who goes to Facebook to buy something?” The general answer is not many. This brings up a good point. Depending on what your goal is, social media marketing may simply not have the same positive impact that a solid SEO program would have for getting actual customers as a result of your online presence. While sales on Facebook is working for some businesses the amount of traffic outside of Facebook is a much greater.
On-Site SEO Concerns
There are over 200 different factors that go into how Google and other major search engines rank websites, and a majority of those factors fall under the umbrella term of “On-Site SEO.” This includes everything from having the right tags on every page to displaying high quality pictures, an original design, or content that looks like it was written by an authority on the subject.
This goes beyond just avoiding the obvious problems of keyword stuffing and boring thin content, but designing an exceptional website that gives the search engines what they want. Some people choose to try to learn this individually, some hire in-house to have their own SEO and marketing guru on hand, and many company owners choose to work with an experienced SEO agency to avoid the hundreds of hours of study and work it takes to really master modern search engine optimization.
Off-Site SEO Issues
Off-Site SEO issues include important things like having a great hosting plan that gives your website 100% up time & fast loading times, having your domain name bought out the full 10 years, or even finding backlinks from high authority and trusted websites in your niche or a related one.
While these factors aren’t as well known as on-site SEO, they are extremely important, especially when trying to rank against competition with good websites or at least basic SEO work.
Understanding The Full Importance of SEO
The top search engines want to always provide the absolute best content on top of their results. This is how Google went from a strangely named afterthought to the most dominant search engine in the entire world. They were the best at ranking high quality content at the top of their search results, and were better at punishing worthless or spam sites that other search engines had a hard time getting rid of.
Whether you are focusing on making sure your website has the right on page factors to look good to Google and other search engines, or whether you are working with an agency to get high quality backlinks from qualified sources, making the effort to provide an excellent website that the search engines will want to share not only helps them improve their results, but the traffic and attention you get for doing things right will help your business not just survive, but absolutely thrive in today’s competitive world.
At the end of the day, you need SEO to get the most out of your online real estate. If you need help ranking your website to reach a larger audience online you should consult with a SEO Specialist/ Expert to get an in depth analysis.