Frequently, I get asked “Why do I need SEO?” My response is always the same: that is like asking “why should I drive new traffic to my website?” Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that increases website traffic by getting the site to show up high on a list of search engine results. Search engines like Google have algorithms that detect your site’s properties, social media following, URLs, content quality, backlinks, and many other factors. They use this information to determine how well your site will rank amongst other sites that show up for the same search query (e.g. “best web designer in Whitby”). If you sell products or services and want new online customers to start purchasing them from your website, you can bet SEO is relevant to you. For all intents and purposes, we will be focusing on how SEO is useful in Google. To rank highly in a Google search result means that you will drive more traffic to your website. Here’s how:
How SEO Drives New Traffic to Your Website
It’s simple. Try searching anything you can think of at the moment and click on the result you found most relevant. We searched “SEO” from our office in Whitby (see the diagram above). Based on recent search engine research, 75% of clicks go to 1 of the top 5 listings on the results page. Better yet, the number 1 result receives the largest portion of those clicks. It pays to rank as one the top 5 results. If a user is not satisfied with the results on the first page, they are also much more likely to try another search query than to click on the second page. This means that being distant from top results makes your website virtually invisible to most users on Google. Companies pay good money to create a fantastic website only to see their traffic remain low because of poor SEO. You will always get users who are searching specifically for your company to visit your site. But what about the customers who have never heard of your company and happen to be searching for products that you sell? This is where SEO improves your traffic.
SEO is a Continuous Process that Requires Time to Work
It’s easy to understand the importance of SEO. It’s not so easy to implement it. There’s a reason why companies spend thousands of dollars each month on it. First of all, it’s a slow process. Google sends out spiders which are automated bots that “crawl” (examine a site’s data) all of the websites under its index. Since millions of websites are indexed on Google, you can imagine how long that could take. SEO clients are often told that their website may need at least 6 months to rank highly for keywords relevant to their business. Keywords are informative words or phrases searched for on Google and should indicate what type of content is being shown on a page.
SEO becomes tricky when there’s a lot of competition to rank for keywords. For example, you may want your site to rank highly for “web designer” but so do hundreds of other companies. The more popular the product or service is in the region, the higher the competition will be for it. There are also different ways customers can type keywords to find web designers on Google. You can rank highly for “best web designer in Whitby” but what about a neighboring town like Oshawa where you also have potential customers? Then you need to implement a keyword phrase such as “best web designer in Oshawa” as well. Here’s the catch. You cannot just add all the keywords to your webpage and call it a day. They must be added organically to work. Keywords should appear on your site accompanied by relevant content anywhere from 50 to 5000 words long. Google’s algorithm punishes “keyword stuffing”. This is the practice of repeatedly adding keywords to your website without any relevant content. These spam-like SEO strategies are referred to as black hat and will actually harm your ratings.
SEO is a Constant Battle
Google’s search algorithm changes frequently and so a lot of the techniques SEO consultants use rely heavily on search engine research. Google used to explicitly tell us what would rank pages, but nowadays we only get hints. Companies like AHREFS or MOZ conduct their own research to judge which website factors are likely important to Google’s ranking process. These are educated guesses at worst and statistical tendencies at best. Regardless, they are useful tools that most SEO consultants will use.
An example of an update to Google’s algorithm happened in April 2015 called “Mobilegeddon”. This addition to the search algorithm made websites that were mobile-compatible rank higher while those that weren’t saw their rankings plummet overnight. Consultants must always be on top of these updates to ensure their clients are consistently ranking.
In a consumer market that is using online shopping more than ever, the demand for SEO to drive new website traffic is constantly growing. Optimizing a webpage for crucial keywords will give your company a solid edge against your less-optimized competitors. Ranking in the top 5 results for multiple keywords is a must nowadays. You still have the option to pay for Google advertising (also referred to as SEM), but approximately 70% of customers still click on organic search results that were optimized. It’s time for your website to get noticed. Look no further than SEO to make that happen.