Getting your business seen online is vital to its success. But, with thousands of other businesses all competing for visibility, how does yours stand out from the crowd?
Over the past decade, the digital marketplace has grown exponentially. Whereas the sales process once began as soon as a prospect picked up the phone, now that process starts as soon as a person logs online. With over 85% of consumers taking to online search engines to find the service they’re looking for, it’s safe to say consumer buying habits have changed forever, and so has the marketplace.
Just having a website is no longer enough, with more leads than ever being generated online, your business needs to act smarter and faster to pick them up.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re a local plumber. Outside of consumers making a direct search for your company name, your target market is going to head over to Google, type in “[place name] plumber” and let it do it’s magic. And no one has the time to research all the way back to the 23rd page of Google results. So unless you’ve got one of those coveted front page spots, or a particularly dogged consumer, you’re pretty much out of luck.
This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in.
I’m sure over the past few years you’ve seen this little abbreviation popping up everywhere, either that or you’ve been hounded by cold callers offering you a free SEO consultation. And much like a lot of business owners, you may be a bit puzzled at its sudden uptick in the business lexicon.
Due to its rather alchemic nature, there are a lot of misunderstandings about what exactly SEO is and what it can do. Even to a Bristol SEO agency, like us, SEO can sometimes be a little opaque.
But good SEO, SEO done right, is the reason your business is going to get on that Google front page and get seen by consumers around the globe. And we’re not talking about being on page 1 for your business name. That assumes people know about you already. No, we’re talking about getting on the front page for any of the potential search queries your future customers will use to find the products and services you offer. Giving you a competitive edge like no other.
What is SEO?
We could just give you a bunch of data-driven technical jargon and marketing buzzwords, but we like to keep it straightforward and demonstrate the direct approach SEO can have on your business. So let’s refocus.
If you’re a business owner in 2017, I’m going to assume that you have a website – if you don’t, please call us now.
Okay, so think about it, why do you have a website?
At its most basic, your website is a digital placeholder for your business. It’s there to occupy space, declare your presence and grab attention. It serves as an online gateway to your business, educating, engaging and inviting potential customers to dig deeper, find out more about you, your products and more importantly, your brand. A showreel of your best bits.
More than that, your website plays a key factor in converting all those hard-won visits into leads and then into sales.
Essentially a website drives traffic and revenue. Two key things for your business’ success.
But how can a website do that if no one can see it?
If your website is lodged somewhere down in the deep dark corners of the web, it definitely won’t be getting you customers, and it most certainly won’t be winning you any sales.
Yes, targeted traditional marketing and even social media to a certain extent can help boost your numbers, but like digging around an old sofa for loose change, finding leads this way is pretty hit and miss. You don’t know if you’re going to find anything, and if you do, you don’t know if it’s going to be of any value.
Employing quality SEO can get you leads that are relevant, with a high chance of conversion, making it less like sofa change and more like heading straight to a consumer ATM.
How Does SEO Get Customers to my Website?
We’re glad you asked!
Although Google can seem like a mysterious, magical entity, it does play by a certain set of “rules”. Even if it does like to change the rules often! Those rules are based on what Google believes the user is looking for, both in terms of quality of content and quality of user experience. These rules are laid down in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
SEO takes those rules, translates them into actionable strategies and implements them on your website and across the wider Internet. Essentially, for every rule, or target, you hit on your website or beyond, the more favourably Google looks on your website and the higher it pushes you up the rankings.
Two key things to remember about SEO are:
The more authoritative your website is, and the more relevant your content is to a person’s Google search terms, the more visible it is going to be.
How Do I Build Relevancy?
Building relevance into your website and its content ultimately boil down to understanding the problems and issues your target market has, and how your products or service can solve them. What keeps your customers awake at night and what can you do to soothe them back to sleep?
Research the common queries your customers have and how they search for the answers online. What search terms or “keywords” do they use? The key to creating a well-optimised web copy is finding that sweet spot between pain and relief. Create content that answers the needs and solves the problems of your customers, include as much relevant information as possible to those potential search queries, and before you know it, you’re telling Google – and potential customers – exactly what you want to be found for.
How Do I Build Authority?
Authority is mostly measured by analysing the number and quality of links to your website from other web pages. This is why if you’ve spoken to any SEO agency they’ll talk a lot about building backlinks.
A backlink, essentially, is an incoming link to your website from another. Just like in the real world, a backlink is akin to a word of mouth recommendation of your website and services. By a site linking to your website, or a piece of your content, from theirs, they are also transferring a small amount of web authority along with it.
But not all backlinks are created equal, the more authoritative and relevant the website you get a link from, the more authority it’ll pass over.
Each backlink is like a signal to Google that your website is gaining traction, and authority, and tells Google your website should be seen by more people. Building strong and sustainable backlinks can jump your website from the top of page 18 to the top of page 1.
Imagine the world wide web as an actual web, you want your website to be right at the centre, with all the strings, or links, connecting directly, or indirectly, to you.
It’s important to note here, that good SEO won’t be an overnight process. If you want to ensure that your website not only shoots up the rankings but stays there, then you need to employ an organic SEO process that gradually builds all the right links in all the right places. Be wary of any company that promises you instant results, as they may be employing practices that will ultimately damage your business in the long run.
So, we’ve established that SEO is going to get you seen, drive traffic and earn you more revenue, but how else can SEO benefit your business?
The Benefits of SEO for your Business
SEO can increase the reach of your business
Far beyond what was possible with traditional marketing strategies.
A byproduct of increased visibility online is increasing the reach of your marketing efforts. Moreover, SEO will target a wider audience that is actively seeking your products or services, therefore, are more likely to be converted into genuine sales or leads.
With SEO, a small independent retailer can trade at a national, or international level for a modest outlay – all from the comfort of their bedroom.
SEO is good for visibility and branding
Throughout this article, we’ve equated increased visibility with increased traffic and ultimately, an uptick in sales. But high visibility is more than just a simple click-through. Most searchers don’t just search once, click on a couple of websites and then finish. They’re far more likely to search once, click on a couple of websites, re-evaluate their search terms and repeat again until they’ve honed their search for their exact terms. In this, there is a massive amount of value in simply appearing in search terms that are directly related to your business.
If you continually appear in all of these search results, hitting every keyword, then it means you are gaining more and more mindshare, or association, with each potential customer. Even if your website wasn’t the first choice on their original search, chances are, by building this awareness, they will eventually click through to your website. Not only that, but they will trust you as a viable service that much more.
SEO helps build your brand’s credibility
We, as consumers, trust search engines to deliver to us exactly what we need. Therefore, consciously or not, we take their rankings as an implicit vote of confidence. The higher you rank on your page, the more Google, or other search engine’s trust your website, and the more they trust you, the more the consumer trusts your business.
The further back your website is in the search rankings, the more we tend to devalue it – if we even do click back that far. Your customers may not realise it, but high search rankings make you more credible in their eyes.
More than that, a solid SEO strategy that involves content creation can help develop your grounding as an expert, or a voice of authority in your field, by developing and sharing thought pieces, articles and blog posts that establish you as an important industry, or consumer, voice.
SEO complements and integrates with other forms of marketing
Whether it is digital or traditional marketing, SEO can perfectly integrate with your other marketing strategies.
Linking your efforts with content generation, social media, and PR, can boost your reach, and their market power, even further.
SEO has one of the best ROI’s in Advertising
SEO provides the greatest rewards, at a higher rate than any other form of traditional offline marketing.
The reason for this is, as I’ve stated before because SEO is an inbound marketing strategy, it allows you to directly market to people already searching for the products and services you provide. Targeting interested consumers means that the majority of the hard work is already done for you; there’s no need for an elaborate sales pitch, no need to convince someone they need something they weren’t already looking to buy, all you need to do is show up.
Unlike many forms of traditional marketing, SEO is not static. It requires constant adjustment in order to stay in compliance with Google updates and a competitive market. Although if you’re choosing to look after your own SEO, the level of attention a good SEO strategy needs can be cumbersome, the constant assessment provides you with the opportunity to immediately adjust tactics and approaches.
The hard data SEO rewards you with can be used to modify your approach immediately. It is measurable and malleable, allowing you to target new demographics, rectify vulnerabilities or even just keep results consistent at the click of a mouse.
SEO can provide you with valuable insight into your customer’s behaviour
The massive amount of traffic SEO generates, is all stored and tracked through services like Google Analytics. In the right hands, this is an amazing tool for your business and can provide essential feedback to inform your business decisions.
The data and metrics Google Analytics stores can give you an essential insight into your customer’s behaviour online; how they search, how they browse, the language they use, the technology they use, the region they live in, the days they are most active, the times of day they are most active, what colour their eyes are. We’re joking about the last one, but we’re not kidding about the depth of knowledge you can gather about what drives your customers to search for what they do, even why they choose you in comparison to other businesses. By collating and comparing customer data, you can gain a full-colour picture of who exactly your primary customer is, which can inform how you place your business both on and offline.
A lot of businesses don’t tend to put much aside in the budget to focus on marketing, seeing it as a non-essential cost. But, if all your other competitors have got flashing look at me arrows pointing in their directions, how are consumers going to notice you?
SEO has one of the highest success rates of any digital marketing service, and the relative cost of the initial investment, is minimal in comparison to the potential revenue SEO can bring your business.
If our blog post has managed to encourage you to invest in a little SEO, then read our blog post on choosing the right SEO partner for your business. Or, if you think that could be us, then feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly SEO experts for a chat about how we can get your business seen.
If you’re still unconvinced, check out our results and see, in real-time, what the effects of a positive SEO strategy can be.