There are many different methods of online promotion, and SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization) has much more of an air of mystery around it than all the others, as it is at the top of the pile when it comes to ROI (Return On Investment).
So, what exactly is SEO?
In simple terms, SEO is the practice of ranking a webpage higher in the search engines than it otherwise would be if no seo work was carried out.
Google uses extremely sophisticated algorithms to automate the process of returning the hundreds of thousands, or millions, of results for any given search phrase.
What an SEO expert does, is take advantage of these algorithms and use them to benefit any particular site, pushing it up in the order of ranking, in order that searchers are presented with the target website or webpage, that is of course relevant to what they are looking for – it’s pointless ranking a website for ‘fluffy toys’, if the website is selling office furniture, for example.
SEO takes 2 forms, the first of which is known as on-site, or on-page seo. This is the practice of making sure the basics are correct, such as title, headings, keywords, meta tags (to a degree), relevance, uniqueness, value to the searcher, good navigation to other pages within the site, and ease of use, to name a few.
The other, and this is more important than on-page seo, is off-site, or off-page SEO. What this entails is building links on OTHER websites or pages that point to the target site. Google sees each of these links in as a vote, and while all votes are not equal, they all matter – either positively, or negatively. A search engine optimization expert is able to identify where to get these relevant ‘votes’ from, and in large numbers. The number of ‘votes’ required to boost a site varies dramatically depending on competion, both the amount of competition, and the strength of the top ranking sites votes. You may only need a few hundred of these votes, or you may need the amount to be in the thousands, but you DO need them, and they MUST come from relevant, trusted sources. Can a business owner do this work themselves? Of course, but you need to remember the amount of time needed to do this, as well as continue to offer your primary business service/product, which is why it ALWAYS pays to outsource seo to a professional, as *that* is their primary service, and they will get better results, faster results, and prolonged results. Every time, without exception.
The absolute beauty of ranking highly for a certain search term, is that now your business is in front of people who are actively seeking it – here’s a small example of why it’s such a powerful addition to any business, no matter what it is;
Television adverts – we’ve all seen them, and are bombarded by them. Let’s say a particular programme has an audience of 10m viewers. 10m people see an advert that is aimed at what the advertisers hope is a fairly targeted demographic – a soap-opera will typically carry an advert for a furniture store. The advertisers figure people are sitting at home on the sofa, watching their programme in a home that will likely have at least one of the viewers as a furniture-buyer. None of those people are actively seeking a sofa at that exact point in time, but some may be in the market for a new one, and the advertisers hope that when the programme is finished, some of those people who are in the market for a new sofa will remember their advert, the name of the company, and either go online to have a browse, or visit a nearby store the next day, if there is one local to the viewer.
Break that down:
- Hope some of those 10m viewers are ready to buy a new sofa – a VERY generous number would be 500k people, so 5%
- Hope that some of those 5% that are, will be so keen to buy, that they remember the advert, AND the name of the company. Again, being generous, 100k people, which is now 1% of the original 10m who saw the advert.
- Hope that some of those 100k people will stop watching TV and go online to get more info, or to find their nearest store. A totally over the top figure would be 60,000 people which is now just .6%
- Hope that of those 60,000, some will also actually go to the store, try out the sofas, and get to the stage where they are ready to part with some cash and make a purchase. Let’s give another generously over the top figure of half of those, so 30,000 people. We now see that, even being fantastically generous with the numbers, that that advertising medium has given a return of around 0.3% possible sales, and in reality is actually less than 0.1%.
Now think of a time when you have actively gone to your computer, hit Google, and typed in a search phrase to find something you wanted to buy. Chances are you found exactly what you were looking for within the first 2 or 3 sites you clicked on, and it’s a very rare occasion indeed when you even end up on page 2 of the google results to make your purchase. This is because you already know what you want, how much you want to spend, and just need somewhere to get that item, and hand your cash over. When you want to buy let’s say a printer, you go online, search for the printer you want, find somewhere selling it, and buy. YOU are doing all the work, and this applies to EVERY internet search by the way, and as such the percentage of sales to visitors to ‘product or service xyz’ is now in the 80% range – more than 100 times more likely than a tv commercial!
This is why search engine traffic (traffic being searchers) is known as Gold Dust to businesses that rank high in Google, and the fight for page 1 listings is so fierce – this is absolute top quality ‘advertising’, and the best part is, the customers are climbing all over each other to find YOU! The question isn’t can you afford to pay for SEO, it’s can you afford not to…