SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of optimizing specific aspects of web pages in order to increase the overall traffic from the search engines. The majority of website traffic comes from the search engines, and if your site isn’t being found, then you can be losing out on incredible opportunities.
The benefits of SEO are numerous, but today we’re only going to focus on six areas: usability, code, rankings, traffic, cost and brand visibility.
The usability of any website is extremely important, not only from a search engine perspective but also from the users’ point-of-view. SEO can bring a lot of new aspects to the development table that will increase both the search engine results and the user experience.
Even if your website gets tons of visits, if you’re not converting users, then the traffic is worthless. Making sure your users have a good experience is what separates a typical website from a site they’ll continue to use. Examples of issues that can create a bad user experience:
- No prices or requiring users to call for prices
- Minimal or incomplete descriptions of products
- Poor quality images or no pictures at all
- Inconsistent navigation
- Poor organization
Search engine optimization is all about being thorough, so give your visitors all the details they’ll need and your site will be seen as an informative, user-friendly resource.
SEO is not the sole reason to strive for clean code, but it does go hand in hand with sites that are coded efficiently. Websites can be developed in numerous languages and techniques, and some methods are going to be better than others when it comes to search engine rankings. A site that utilizes clean and semantic markup is typically going to outperform a site that doesn’t. Adhering to SEO guidelines is going to give your markup a more defined outline as well as making the hierarchy more clear to your users and the search engines. Document heading outlines, navigation, URLs and category management are all going to be indicators to your users on the architecture of your website. Make sure that your website is organized in a logical fashion no matter where you enter.
Search Engine Rankings
Optimizing websites for search engines means that your sites are going to be in front of your users when they’re ready. Most other forms of advertising are time and location sensitive and can mean your potential customers will never see your beautiful ad. Examples of time and location-sensitive advertising:
- Magazine ad (hope they buy the issue, read it, see your ad and act on it)
- Billboard ad (hope they drive down that road, read the billboard and know what they’re supposed to do)
- Commercial (hope they’re watching TV, that channel and ready to let the info soak in)
Of course, all of these mediums have been used effectively for years, but there are also a lot of variables that can limit your ability to capture the attention of the audience.
The nice thing about search engines and online sales is that your website doesn’t close, so your site can generate traffic and sales 24/7. Effective search engine optimization helps your site make the most of this advantage.
We hear a lot about search engine rankings and algorithms changing, and to be a good SEO you have to constantly know what Google is doing. While for the most part that’s true, you don’t have to spend all your time keeping up with the newest SEO techniques in order to get good rankings. A site that’s optimized with ethical, white hat SEO techniques can do very well on the search engines for a long time. As long as you follow a few basic rules, all of your sites can do well.
Ideally, when writing content you’re optimizing the web pages for specific keywords and phrases. I see a lot of companies that don’t even think about keyword phrases until after all the content is written and the site is live. They wonder while they’re not showing up for “keyword phrase A,” and the phrase isn’t even mentioned in the content. A huge benefit to SEO is that you actually control what kind of traffic your website is going to generate. By doing keyword research, you’ll be able to analyze which terms generate traffic and which terms will be the most beneficial to your company’s goals. Keyword research can also give your company an indication on how the average consumer talks about your products or services. Many times, companies think their customers talk about them using certain, specific words, only to find—through keyword research—that they actually refer to you slightly differently. If you had known the alternate way your customers referred to your products, then you could have included that verbiage in the content to generate more traffic.
Having to pay a qualified SEO writer to do keyword research and optimize content can turn a lot of companies off, but if you look at the long-term costs, it’s a much better ROI than PPC (Pay Per Click) or other forms of online advertising. Of course, having an in-house SEO is going to be the most cost-effective way to keep updating your website with quality content, but if you have to outsource the writing, then it can potentially be a one-time fee. Obviously, the more active you are in your SEO campaign the better you’ll do over the years, but if you’re looking to just get started, then optimizing the content once a year and then analyzing the results on a quarterly basis can be very cost-effective. PPC can be a good way to generate quick traffic, and it definitely has its place for certain types of campaigns; but if you opt to only participate in PPC, then your advertising budget is going to continue to increase as the year goes on. The budget throughout your PPC campaign is going to depend on a lot of factors. Cost of keywords, how many keywords, how targeted your content is for that particular keyword, how long the campaign runs. You could easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for multiple campaigns. SEO can be a one-time fee that can pay for itself in just a few months, leaving the rest of the year generating profits on every sale. You can target as many keywords as you like without having to worry about how expensive each keyword is. Additionally, SEO doesn’t need the kind of hand-holding and ongoing monitoring that PPC can require, which gives you and your staff the flexibility to focus on other tasks.
If I search for your company name, I should find your site on the search engines. That’s a given, that’s not SEO. If you’re not found for your company name then you should fire who ever created your website and start over. The real benefit of SEO when it comes to brand visibility is when a user searches for a general topic and your site comes into their results. For example, if I searched for “Forklift Parts” and you sold forklift parts, wouldn’t you want your site to be on page one of Google? Is it? Have you even checked? If you take the time to create unique content on a consistent basis, you can begin to dominate the search engines for many variations of your targeted keyword phrases. Each time you create a new piece of content, you’ll generate a new listing in Google’s index. The more indexed pages you have, the more places you’ll show up in front of your customers. With a well-optimized campaign, your customers won’t be able to get away from you.
The Internet offers a wealth of business potential, and it is important for companies to take advantage of it. This means making sure your websites and everything you put online are optimized. SEO is a great way to put your company in front of your users and generate more leads and sales. The benefits of SEO are endless, but these six areas should be enough to get you thinking about what your current site is missing. Get started optimizing your website today with SEO and watch your rankings, sales and profits grow.