Search Engine Optimization - What You Need to Know
Search Engine Optimization - SEO without a doubt is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted terms in the world of marketing. Most people who are using the internet have heard the term but really do not know the details behind it. SEO is a very useful and necessary marketing tool for businesses in conjunction with effective landing pages and of course, great organic content. It has been characterized as a must-have, save-the-day, magical solution by many people over the past decade; especially those who were in the business of selling SEO solutions. A solid SEO can have a better than average ROI than other more traditional forms of marketing such as print advertising or radio, especially if your business is targeting specific customer groups. An effective and high SEO can put your business on the first page of search engine rankings, which by default will bring more sales leads and potential customers than say page four of the same results, but it isn’t going to miraculously change your business overnight to something amazing.
SEO (search engine optimization) is “The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine,” according to The Oxford Dictionary. These search results are often referred to as “organic results,” meaning they are the natural (unpaid) results that the search engine displays.
What SEO can do for you
What SEO can do is provide visibility, website traffic, credibility, and networking opportunities, all which can be leveraged into growing revenues whether through direct product sales or on-site advertising opportunities. Each of these is important, but when taken as a whole become the lifeblood of a business. There are pros and cons, and after a brief review, we’ll make that comparison.
Visibility is critical on the internet, especially for new websites or businesses. A high quality SEO can insure your site is being seen on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other major engines; additionally the smaller engines often feed from the larger ones so you can reach a wide audience worldwide with solid SEO. It goes without needed explanation that visibility is the most important thing for a web-based business. Without it, you might as well be tying stories about what job you’ll be working at after your website fails.
Traffic, Traffic, and did I say Traffic?
Website Traffic is the ring on the finger of the visibility hand; so close they are touching all the time and never being separated. By itself traffic is not going to make you any money, but without it, there is absolutely no chance you will be reaping any benefits. Consider this hypothetical analysis. A site with a high SEO is like a store along Rodeo Drive or in the Mall of America; crowds of people are always shuffling past the storefronts and there is a high chance that a portion of them are going to come in and browse and hopefully buy something. A low SEO is like that same store being in Omaha, Nebraska in the wintertime; there might be a few passers-by, but if you want them to come inside and shop, you’ll have to go outside and drag them in with one of the other tools available.
Credibility is another important necessity for new websites, especially in today’s world where on-line businesses come and go on a regular basis. If your company or website has a high SEO and can be found on the first page of Google all of the time, people will notice. They may not realize they are noticing, but they are making unconscious mental notations of what they see every time they do a search. The higher your rank, the more consumer confidence you’ll get. Remember that Google is now the almighty determinant of many things and if your business or website is ranked high on Google, then it must be good, right? You may be chuckling right now while reading this, but deep down in your mind, you are silently agreeing with this premise. High search rankings make you credible. High search rankings make you credible. Again, High search rankings make you credible – most people do their on-line shopping from the first few pages, so if you are on page seven or eight, time to do some work on fixing your image.
Lastly is what I call Networking Opportunities which are important for many reasons. The opportunity to have your site or business seen by others within your own niche or industry is very important. Human beings regularly review, compare, and think about themselves and their position in their given industry. Talented leaders, innovators, salespeople, and marketers are always looking at what the competition is doing in order to copy it if necessary, out-position it, price-match it, or in some cases put in an application for employment with it. High SEO scores also mean you’ll be propositioned more by advertisers, solution providers, consultants, brokerage agencies, creative firms, and more. Basically everyone who is employed in providing organic and current content or wants to ride along with your ranking for delivering their message will want to be your new best friend. If you have a site that is of the blogger variety, then this point is much more important if you are looking for advertising dollars to pay your own salary.
Perceived Cons and challenges
Of course, there are other things which a high SEO can offer website owners such as brand awareness and brand building opportunities, direct consumer interaction, e-mail marketing portals, and more. In a nutshell, a good SEO rewards your website at a higher rate than pretty much any other form of advertising or marketing. It provides a global, 24 hour per day platform to talk to everyone on their terms and if they like what they see, you’ll be in the green before you can say Google it.
The pros are obvious as shown by the benefits a high SEO can offer, but there are some things to be aware of that people might consider as negatives. A high SEO takes time, often times up to six months for a new business, but if the right strategies are employed and all participants insure the site is full of high quality organic postings, the rewards later with be a steady traffic flow. Another potential pitfall with SEO is the dreaded Google update; it’s when the algorithms or key-word search tools are changed. If you pay attention to your SEO and anticipate change, then it’s not too damaging, but if you don’t, then your website could drop several pages very rapidly.
Competition & Conclusion
The biggest and last topic I’ll cover on the con side is competition. Everyone who is everyone is competing for the top spots on the first page. If you are in a highly competitive business, you may need to invest significant amounts of money to maintain a high ranking. If you are a blogger with a highly specialized platform, then probably not so much, but either way it is important that you do everything every single day to insure you are maximizing SEO, even if it means sacrificing some content.
I’ve seen many people turned off from internet marketing because they didn’t understand or didn’t care about optimizing their work to the highest SEO levels possible. I’ve also seen people who will only put out total green lighted sites. I know companies who spend thousands of dollars every month to insure they rank on page one. I know seasoned marketers who are almost there, but seem to collapse a few feet from the finish line when it comes to SEO. The highs and the lows of the internet environment are nothing short of incomprehensible at times, and I’m always watching to see what happens next. If you’ve read this so far, then I hope you walk away with a more knowledgeable understanding of SEO and how it can impact your website or on-line business and a plan to hopefully get to that top Google ranking spot without going broke.