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The Truth Behind SEO: What Can It Do for Your Business?

As a search marketing agency operating for 20 years, we’re often asked questions on whether SEO is right for a business – “how can SEO help me?”, “is SEO a one-time project?”, “what are the limitations of SEO?”. Brands want to know exactly what SEO can and won’t do for them. So, we’ve compiled a list telling you exactly that.

Assuming you have a well-thought out SEO strategy, take a read of what this in-bound marketing technique could do for your brand…

Providing valuable insight into your audience

Search data can tell you a lot about your audience. If you don’t know who they are, you won’t know which keywords to target. The amount of data you can gather from SEO tools is a treasure trove. Platforms such as Google Analytics, AnswerThePublic and SEMrush can identify the best way to reach your audience and provide answers to:

  • What your visitors are searching
  • How and why your audience are searching for products
  • What questions your customers are asking
  • What your consumer pain points are
  • How far along the buying process your visitors are

Data on search behaviour can be turned into customer intelligence which can be used to not only fuel your content strategy, but also better your product and service offering.

Delivering a high ROI

SEO is a proven and effective inbound marketing strategy enabling you to connect with the right people at the right time. Delivering consistent, engaging content that your customers value is a key part of SEO, allowing you to focus on the whole sales funnel from awareness all the way through to gaining a loyal customer. With SEO, you have the power to nurture free organic traffic using your website alone.

The very nature of SEO is to optimise your website to improve your SERP position, increasing brand authority and traffic. In short, traffic equals leads and leads turn into sales. Research has shown that organic traffic drives more than 50 percent of web traffic. This figure is much higher than other non-organic search channels, including paid search at 10 percent and social at five percent. It also generates the most revenue (40 percent) and is perceived by consumers to be more trustworthy than paid for search results, demonstrating the ROI potential SEO holds.

Influencing purchase decisions

Every marketer knows that word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. In fact, people are 90 percent more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend. In a world driven by technology, search engines have become the online version of word-of-mouth marketing. When people visit Google and conduct a search, they trust the results they receive and rarely stray from page one. If your business is not visible on page one, how will they find you? Brands can’t depend on direct traffic alone.

60 percent of people rely on search engines to decide whether to purchase something or not. And when it comes to making a big purchase, 81 percent of people use search engines to conduct research before committing to a sale. The influence of search engines over purchase behaviour applies to B2B too, with 57 percent of marketers stating SEO as their top channel for lead generation.

A strong SEO presence grows referrals, literally and figuratively. Strategic content and page optimisations can also allow you to divert traffic from your competition by helping your brand appear higher than them in the SERPs. Clever stuff, right?

Working in synergy with other online channels

Digital PR, social media and email marketing can drive referral traffic to your website, positively influencing your site ranking. Keywords and long-tail search terms can inform PPC ad copy, content ideas and email subject lines while insight from PPC and email marketing can inform keywords, meta descriptions and title tags. These are just a few ways in which SEO can benefit from working in conjunction with other marketing activities.

We have seen impressive results from running multi-touchpoint campaigns for our clients such as ALA Gap insurance who subsequently achieved an 54 percent increase in leads. The campaign involved SEO, PPC and CRO, working together to enable full funnel engagement that increased conversion rates. Not only did they see an uplift in leads but also in organic traffic and a 30 percent increase in revenue.

SEO isn’t a one-off project

Frequent algorithm changes, thousands of new websites launched daily, shifts in customer behaviour and new technology innovations mean SEO is a constant moving target. It requires ongoing work and optimisation to ensure your website remains visible, you rank higher than your competition and stay in prime positions.

If you make sporadic SEO adjustments to your site, even if these are best practice, your efforts will quickly become obsolete. If your rank position slips, so could your sales. SEO needs constant work, particularly in volatile and niche markets. Why? Because your position in the search engine will change.

93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine and a staggering 75 percent of people never click past the first page of results. Combined with the average click through rates (CTR) by rank position, businesses should be fighting to make time for SEO:  

  • CTR for position one is 32 percent
  • CTR for position two is 25 percent
  • CTR for position three is 19 percent

When comparing these figures to websites ranking in position eight (3.12 percent) and position nine (2.97 percent), it is clear that those higher in the SERP have a strong advantage.

Generating high-quality links

Internal, inbound, and outbound links are important to your website ranking as they reflect the quality of a page’s content. Links continue to play an important factor in how Google determines which sites rank for which keywords.

The rules regarding links and SEO change but one thing remains the same, if you want to compete and thrive online, you need high-quality backlinks. This is where outreach and digital PR can help by enabling businesses to drive qualified organic, referral traffic to their websites. Not only can these services increase brand awareness and revenue, they can also create powerful and high-quality backlinks to improve your SERP position – it’s a win, win.

It’s important to note, not all links are the same, and quality over quantity does matter. Google takes a strong stance on links that don’t appear natural:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.” – Google Quality Guidelines.

You need top notch content

Thin content

It’s no secret that Google takes a strong stance when it comes to bad content with the roll out of the Panda update in 2011:

“One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.

“However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.”.

If the search engine detects low quality content or shallow pages on your site you will be penalised, prompting the below manual action warning in Google Search Console:

manual penalty warning from Google

A few common examples of pages that often have thin content with little or no added value are:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Thin affiliate pages
  • Content from other sources such as low-quality guest blog posts
  • Doorway pages

Google has created recommended actions in their webmasters guidelines to help stop businesses from violating content rules. When writing content, you need to ask yourself “does this content add substantial value to the end user?”

Badly written content

High quality, well-structured content anchors website visitors and reduces bounce rates. The longer they stay, the more engaged with your brand they will be, increasing the chances of them converting. If your visitors aren’t sticking around because your content isn’t engaging or relevant, the likelihood of them purchasing or returning is next to none. In this case, any traffic you do receive – whether it’s from search engines, social media, email marketing, external sources, or direct visits – is practically useless.

Low quality content also compromises the credibility of your brand and domain authority. If your content isn’t deemed trustworthy or valuable, your inbound links will be sporadic at best. However, shoehorning many keywords into your content will negatively impact the quality of your content. When content is structured to beat Google’s algorithms by overusing keywords, the web page is considered spammy and doesn’t serve the purpose of meeting the needs of users, leading to penalties. 

SEO is not a quick fix

Ranking position one (and even position 0) is highly competitive. Everyone wants to appear top! But it requires time, patience and a solid SEO strategy. If you want more immediate visibility, you should consider investing in PPC.

Changes in SERPs can be seen in a matter of days, weeks and sometimes months. Yes, this can be frustrating. But, the long-term positive results you can gain over your competition means the benefit massively outweighs the negatives. If your website is properly optimised, you will gain visibility for months or even years to come. This not only gives you a better return on investment, but also allows you to work on other digital marketing activities.

If you have any questions or would like to discover the potential SEO can bring to your business, get in touch with one of our experts.

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