When it comes to marketing, some strategies stick around because they work and some fade away because they don’t. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is one strategy that’s stood the test of time. One of the leading marketing methods for businesses of any size, SEO promotes growth through better visibility.
And it’s had a lot of time to grow into the marketing powerhouse it is today. SEO has come a long way since its inception. Moreover, it is every bit as important today as it was in its early days, even though many of the practices and methods have changed over time.
Google’s 2018 Broad Core Algorithm update was designed to help users get the most relevant and trustworthy results for their queries. This made sense for the search engine as it was at the time. But there is always room for development. Google’s 2019 BERT update had SEO experts focus more on optimizing their content based on conversational queries, rather than keywords.
Most marketers today are likely to be familiar with a whole host of different growth frameworks, but SEO is something else. Still considered one of the best customer acquisition strategies for locally-focused businesses and establishments trying to sell their products and services to niche industry clients, this is the perfect tool for fulfilling specific needs via search engines.
SEO takes time to show results. 70% of small businesses don’t have an SEO plan in place, as a result, because investment mindsets don’t come easy and it can be intimidating to commit that much time to something. Something Ako Stark, president of Marketing 180, knows all too well. “SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes time, effort and patience.”
SEO and Online Marketing
In recent years, paid social advertising has become more expensive than ever before. At the same time, studies show its effectiveness has dropped due to an oversaturated market. Social channels are becoming the de facto solution for digital marketers. But, unless you’re willing to put in the work and learn your way around it (and there’s a lot to learn), many businesses aren’t ready. In today’s world, organic search is becoming a more viable, cost-effective, and efficient option. It provides long-term benefits in a way most can’t replicate on social platforms.
SEO is an important aspect of online marketing because it actually keeps the search results fair. Many people think of digital marketing as “trying to cheat your way to the top” and “taking advantage of loopholes in the digital market”, but SEO is actually designed to benefit the Internet. It puts the brakes on manipulating results as much as possible so that sites displayed will appear because they have value and deserve to be there. This is why major search engines like Google have new algorithm updates implemented from time-to-time: so that search users get the most accurate results possible.
Without search engine optimization, it would be difficult to ever find websites, businesses or the information we seek on a daily basis. It’s not a handy marketing tool with a lot of potential in the digital age, but an essential part of the search engine experience. “It’s not only necessary for businesses and the Internet, alike: it’s one of the single greatest investments a modern marketer can make,” said Stark.
There was a time when almost everyone searching for information regarding companies, services or products used the Yellow Pages book. People had information they were in need of, and would have to go out of their way to flip, page-by-page to find exactly what they were looking for.
Our lives have gotten a lot easier with the advent of modern, powerful online search engines. You can find almost anything you’re looking for on the web in a matter of seconds, and with very little need for correction. It works and it works well. With the average person spending entire weeks online, the Internet is now the world’s largest and most competitive marketplace. Search engine optimization is an important part of that marketplace, ensuring your business gets found by interested customers.
Google releases, on average, 500 to 600 different complex algorithm updates on a yearly basis, now, with the goal of matching potential buyers with potential sellers. Without a good SEO strategy in place, that wouldn’t happen.
Localised Results Are Where The Money Is
As we’ve said, SEO isn’t about tricking search engines into displaying your site on their SERPs. Says Ako Stark, “It’s about letting the search engines know exactly what you do and what your content is all about, so that your business can appear in front of the right people. People who are looking for businesses like yours. SEO connects businesses with clients who are already looking for their services. This increases your chances of selling to anyone already interested in your product or service, but looking for the right company to get it from. SEO increases your chances of converting these leads into customers.”
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of smartphone users using the internet to do most or all of their business. In fact, according to a recent study by Hitwise, a division of Connexity that measures behaviour across desktop, tablet and smartphone devices, that number is 72% of online users.
It’s for this very important reason that Google has focused so much of its efforts on localized results. This means optimization that helps people get the best results possible for relevant products and services in nearby locations. SEO in these examples has been tailored to favor businesses in local areas, towns and cities, and has led to many great successes for small businesses. Localisation has actually in many cases allowed local businesses to compete with much larger players in the online space.
Optimising your website and content for your niche will play a major role in the overall success of your business. “If you want to be found locally, you need SEO. If you want to be found nationally or in international markets, you need SEO. It’s as simple as that,” says Stark.
How Hard Is It To Learn SEO?
“Is it possible to learn how to do SEO on your own, or should you hire an SEO specialist?” This is one of the most common questions among businesses once they become aware of this marketing strategy. It’s hard to argue with the results, but can you do it for yourself?
Here’s what Ako Stark had to say:
“I’ve always said anyone is capable of learning how to do SEO themselves. It’s not that difficult to learn. You have to commit to your objective after making the decision to learn it. If others can learn it and do it, so can you. All it takes is patience and a willingness to learn. Nowadays you can find many different resourceful information online for free. The most effective way to teach yourself is to enroll into a good SEO course, Udemy or Lynda can be good starting points. Joining SEO forums, Telegram or Facebook groups is another effective way to get ahead in the game, since this type of approach offers you a direct connection with others in your shoes, those who are ahead, and those who have mastered the art of SEO. You can ask questions, you can get involved and, with enough effort, you can achieve great success”.
What About Hiring An SEO Expert?
Here’s what Stark had to say on that topic:
“If you’re someone who doesn’t have any funds allocated to automate the SEO aspect of your business marketing, you’ll want to invest your time into learning to do it yourself, at least in the beginning. But if you are willing to make the sacrifice and hire an SEO agency or expert to help you, this can save you time and give you the opportunity to focus on your own business operations.
“It can also save you money as it takes a significant and ongoing investment to fund the appropriate tools and salaries needed to build a complete team of in-house SEO specialists. Agencies can offer you a collection of diverse experts, including SEO professionals, web developers, and content writers who are equipped to handle specific situations as they have experience working with brands like yours and all the challenges you won’t expect as you go through the learning curves. They are up-to-date on the latest SEO trends, providing improved efficiency with a team and resources to position you in your market”.
Research done by BrightEdge suggested that 40% of all online revenue sources come from search engines, and that they are responsible for generating more than 53% of all internet traffic. 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. Leads generated from SEO have a close rate of over 14.6%. In-fact, they are 8 times more likely to close than leads coming from outbound marketing efforts.
Businesses appearing in first place rankings on search results can expect to get more than 1/3rd of all clicks. These numbers emphasize how important SEO is when it comes to driving sales and revenue. Search engine optimization is a digital marketing technique that you don’t want to miss out on. While it does take some time to account for results, the numbers don’t lie, and they confirm results down the line that are well worth the time and investment in your SEO strategy.