Why is SEO important
If you're looking to hire an SEO consultant or agency to help grow your digital business, it's important to fully understand why SEO is important and how it can benefit your company. If you're not sure where to start, this guide will help you determine the kind of impact SEO could have on your brand.
SEO: A very quick primer
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It's an umbrella term that refers to all the ways you can optimise your website so that it secures more traffic and revenue through search engines, such as Google.
There are many types of SEO, such as on page SEO, off page SEO, technical SEO, and a whole slew of specialisms and niches within each. But at its core, SEO is about making your website's content easy to find when people use search terms related to your business.
In very broad terms, SEO can be distilled into three categories:
- Making your website easier for search engines to understand and process.
- Ensuring you have relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
- Promoting a website and its content.
By meeting these three needs, it is possible to grow the amount of organic traffic and revenue that a website makes.
Why does SEO matter?
SEO is important because it allows you to reach new audiences who may not otherwise discover your products and services. Competition for SERP (Search Engine Results Page, SEO jargon for Google's results page) clicks is high, and it's going to continue becoming more difficult to capture traffic as the amount of organic results in the SERP continues to shrink, with paid ads, and other SERP features being promoted at the expense of organic search results.
Despite this, organic search remains one of the key acquisition channels for digital businesses. And it will continue to be a significant digital marketing channel for a number of reasons.
Website as a digital marketing asset
Your business' website should be a tool that supports your business. It should be one of the primary ways you market to potential customers.
However, for a lot of businesses, their websites remain stagnant and rarely deliver the leads or conversions the business needs to grow. SEO counteracts this by allowing a website to reach an expanded audience and engage with users.
The ability to drive traffic to your site is also critical if you want to increase the likelihood of converting visitors into paying customers.
Long term growth
SEO is a slow burning marketing channel. It's rare that organic traffic will suddenly explode upwards. Therefore, it's key to look at the long term when understanding the importance of SEO.
It takes time to build up a strong presence in the SERPs. You need to invest time and money into building a solid foundation before you expect to see any real returns from your efforts. Because of this, you should get started with your SEO efforts as soon as you can - especially if you want your business to grow organically, without an over reliance on paid digital marketing channels.
SEO can be much cheaper than marketing through other digital marketing channels such as PPC. This means it's possible to generate a high return on your SEO marketing spend. The problem with PPC, is as soon as you stop purchasing ads, that source of traffic stops. You will no longer be visible for that search query.
This is in total contrast to SEO. SEO can be much slower to generate traffic in the short term, but will continue to generate traffic for months, even years, into the future. This is why large businesses invest heavily in SEO and content marketing, as it's more efficient than paying high ad spend fees in the long run.
When it comes to SEO, having relevant content on your website is crucial. If your website doesn't contain information that people are searching for, then it won't rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is critical because it ensures that you focus on producing content that will actually have an impact; content that there is a demand for; and ultimately, content that will be profitable for you.
Without any form of SEO input going into your content strategy, you're essentially blindly using resources. There isn't any data to justify the content that's being produced, which is can work out incredibly expensive in terms of time and money.
Improving user experience
One of the most important things that SEO does is improve the user experience. By making sure that your content is accessible, easy to navigate, and engaging, you'll be able to create a better user experience overall. This means that you will be catering to your users needs more, which makes it simpler for them to convert into paying customers.
Google is focussing more heavily on user experience by attempting to quantify UX signals into its various algorithms. Therefore, SEO is increasingly aligning with the fields of UX, development, and design, with all of them working together with the common objective of creating the best user experience possible.
Fixing technical errors
While SEO is essential for reaching a new audience - the 'human' side of the SEO equation - SEO is also critical because it offers a way to combat a website's technical issues.
Technical errors and inefficiencies can have a significant impact on a website's ability to rank highly and earn organic traffic. As such, technical SEO typically forms a part of any comprehensive SEO strategy.
If a website is laden with technical issues - even if it has great content and authoritative links - it's very unlikely to perform as well as it could. This is because Google looks at a plethora of signals when deciding how to rank content, and sometimes these signals conflict, sending contradictory and confusing messages to Google.
For example, picture the following scenarios:
- A website has great content, but Googlebot can't crawl the site due to incorrect rules in robots.txt.
- Googlebot spends too much time crawling, and getting lost in, low quality content that is being automatically generated by a misconfigured CMS. Instead, we want Googlebot to focus on our main content.
- A page has received a lot of links from a PR campaign, however, the page isn't easily discoverable within the site's current architecture and doesn't internally link to relevant pages, so this link equity is going to waste.
SEO puts you in front of your audience, without disrupting them
The key thing to keep in mind is that SEO isn't an intrusive form of marketing. It does not disrupt the user's attention or pull them away from their current activity. For example, display advertising may show an ad on a webpage, distracting the user from reading the content on the page. On the other hand, SEO appeals directly to the user as part of the natural conversion process.
As shown in Google's research, this process may take place over multiple days. The beauty of search marketing is that it allows your brand to be seen by an engaged user precisely at the moment they are most receptive to your message and offering.
While SEO may encompass content and technical/web development based elements, the key outcome is always the same: to make your website as easy as possible for your audience to discover.
Over time, for a variety of reasons, issues, cruft, and technical debt begin to accrue on websites. SEO is important because it tackles these issues. It does so with the goal of making your website discoverable for people who, as indicated by the types of searches they are making and content they are consuming, will be receptive what your business' content and commercial offering.