In today's Grow Smart Growth Bites Episode, we are taking an introductory look at what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is and what it means for your business. This is just a brief introduction to SEO and an overview of how it relates to small business local SEO marketing.
This episode can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ_ekgT2RJs
Today's Episode Transcript…
What Is SEO And Why Is It Important To Your Business
First of all, what is SEO? Let’s get on the same page here and make sure we’re all using the same definition. Here’s one that I use: “Search engine optimization (known as SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the unpaid (also called “natural” or “organic”) search results.
Now, a lot of people don’t know exactly what I mean when I say “natural” or “organic” search results. Let me show you a screen shot to show you what I mean.
Here’s a search engine results page – known as a “SERP” – and you can see by the arrows that I’ve drawn up here, that the paid or “sponsored” listings are at the top and the right sidebar, and the “organic results” are to the lower left.
It’s important that you understand the difference.
The “sponsored” results have been paid for by someone – these are paid advertisements that cost someone money to show up there. These are the “Pay Per Click” (PPC) ads that are being paid for each time someone clicks on them.
Whereas the “organic” results are the results that Google believes are the best match for the search term you typed into Google. Nobody can pay to be here.
These “organic” results are what we’re trying to impact with SEO. We are trying to get your site to rank highly for the specific keywords that you are targeting.
Now, one of the other great things about SEO is that it’s not all about interrupting your audience.
As a rule, people prefer not to be interrupted. Crazy, right?
Anyway, SEO is a permission-based type of marketing because it’s about connecting with people who are already actively engaged in a search for your products and services.
SEO is known to insiders as a form of “inbound marketing,” a strategy that focuses on getting found by prospects, as opposed to simply broadcasting a message that finds prospects.
It’s generally believed that this type of traffic establishes a much more valuable relationship than paid advertising does because people are so skeptical about advertisements nowadays – they feel like they are getting duped much of the time.
But organic results are believed to have more credibility.
SEO, more than other forms of Internet marketing, is shrouded in mystery and more than a few misconceptions. Among the more persistent myths are the following …
The first myth is very persistent and leads to a lot of frustration: “SEO is free.”
Here’s the deal: SEO is quite cost-effective, and once you have a well-placed website, you do receive a lot of “unpaid” traffic. BUT… Optimizing a website isn’t free. It requires time, expertise, and labor. Last time I checked, these things cost money.
The second is easy to disprove. SEO is one of the more measurable marketing methods available to small businesses. Period. And the data show that SEO is a remarkably effective and efficient way to promote your business.
Another myth is that SEO is modern-day voodoo. It’s not. As a matter of fact, SEO is probably the most quantitative, left-brained marketing methods around. SEO experts are much more comfortable reading spreadsheets than tea leaves.
Alternatively, there is a misconception that SEO is like rocket science and there’s no hope for you to learn it and apply it to your business. I will admit, SEO can get pretty wonky, but some of the most effective things you can do to optimize for search engine visibility are also the most simple and straightforward.
Lastly, some will say that SEO is either unethical or downright illegal.
As far as I know, there are no laws on the books that address search engine optimization. That said, the major search engines have their own internal police forces that seek to maintain the integrity of their results and deliver great, accurate information for their users.
Ethical SEO is not at odds with the search engines. Sure, there ARE unscrupulous actors out there who seek to manipulate the search results through deception. This approach is known as “black hat” SEO. This presentation focuses on “white hat” SEO, honest tactics and strategies that are endorsed by the major search engines themselves.
The reality: SEO is a form of Internet marketing that MOST major companies use, and they do so with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo’s blessing.
Here’s a question that a lot of SEO consultants fail to address head-on, because for them, the value of SEO is self-evident.
Now, if you registered for this webinar, the chances are pretty good that you have some idea of why SEO is important, but maybe there are some skeptics in the audience today who still need convincing… the stats on this slide should help.
As you can see: everyone and their mother is online. And most people start each web browsing session with a search engine called Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Diving deeper into the ‘Who cares’ question – 77% of searchers choose organic over paid listings, and 67% choose organic search results when purchasing. Which is why organic click-through generates 25% higher sale conversion than PPC ads.
As you can see, organic results – the unpaid listings – are where it’s at.
If you can get your website to show up in the top of the organic results, you’re essentially in pole position as a business. More buyers will see your website and become customers!
You can see where I’m going with this…
The point I’m trying hammer home is this: search engines are VERY valuable to a business.
“How valuable are they?” you ask?
Well, let’s take a look…
Consider the search term “auto insurance.”
Let’s pretend that you are an auto insurance broker trying to get ranked in Google so you can find some customers.
Now, this is a VERY competitive term, but it’s good to illustrate the value of an organic ranking.
Now look at the number of searches and the cost per click. This is information coming right out of Google’s advertising tools.
There are over 100,000 searches each month for this term, and Google places the approximate cost per each click at $63.31!
Which means that you would likely have to pay AT LEAST that much PER CLICK if you wanted to advertise for this term.
That’s a LOT of money. As I said, this is a very competitive term with very cash-rich companies bidding up the costs.
Now do some simple arithmetic and you can see the value of the term “auto insurance.”
Take the number of searches…
Multiply it by the cost per click…
And you get…
7 MILLION BUCKS!
That’s the MONTHLY VALUE of this traffic!
OK, here’s a pie chart that shows the percentage of traffic based on a website’s position or rank in the search results.
As you can see, the top three results get virtually all of the action—about two thirds of the traffic.
What’s really impressive is to see that position #1 gets 42% of ALL TRAFFIC! Almost 4 TIMES MORE than the 2nd position!
It really is good to be #1.
So let’s say you have the number 1 spot in the search results for the keyword “auto insurance.”
If you do the math based on the search volume and cost per click, you’ll be getting nearly 3 million dollars worth of search engine traffic – each month!
AND YOU AREN’T PAYING FOR ANY OF THOSE CLICKS!
I think you get the idea as to why SEO is so valuable and important for your business.
Let’s quickly summarize the business benefits of SEO.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s good enough for now.
- ONE – boost website traffic
- TWO – increase your visibility among your buyers
- THREE – build relationships and influence
- FOUR – increase sales
- FIVE – measure your progress AND
- SIX – With SEO, you can compete against the big guys with deep pockets! Nobody can pay Google to knock you out of their position.
At the same time, while there are undeniable benefits of search engine optimization, there ARE some downsides too, and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t setting the right expectation.
The downsides are that SEO can be time consuming. It can take months and months to make significant improvement, depending on how competitive your market is.
SEO can be hard because you don’t control all of the variables. The reality is that why Google or any other search engine ranks one site over another is not 100% known. As you can imagine, if we knew exactly how they are ranking sites, people would be manipulating the results like crazy, and the search engines would lose credibility.
Also, SEO is not one-time affair. It’s an ongoing process that requires dedicated effort over time. SEO is a competitive, constantly-changing environment where you can’t afford to rest on your heels.
Lastly and most importantly, there are no guarantees that each and every one of your efforts will pay off. Some SEO consultants claim that SEO is a sure thing, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who said this – except maybe Larry Page – who is the co-founder of Google in case you didn’t know.