If your business is not ranking high in online search results, then your website really isn’t working for you. You may not realize the importance of search engine optimization, but here are five reasons why SEO matters and how to go about making that investment.
By Nachum Langsner
It’s not optional. In order to thrive in today’s online world and reach your constantly-online customers, you need to have a strong online presence. Unwrapping what that means, though, takes a little more work. It’s not uncommon in my line of work to encounter businesses that, while recognizing the general value of digital marketing, do nothing to improve their ability to rank highly in a search. And yet, that might just be the most powerful tool at your disposal. After all, Google alone accounts for more than 50% of traffic to most websites. In fact, investing in search engine optimization (SEO) might just be one of the best moves you can make.
When I talk to potential partners about SEO, I tend to hear some common reasons why they don’t pay much attention to it. Let’s turn that around. In reality, these five reasons are actually the top five reasons you should be investing in SEO to grow your business.
Reason No. 1 to invest in SEO: Social media marketing is not enough
Yes, channels like Facebook and Instagram are hot. You’ll find plenty of marketing experts recommending them. And sure, they can play a vital role in your overall marketing efforts. But in reality, social media marketing is never enough to market your business.
That 50% number quoted above? The same study found that social media only accounts for 5% of traffic generation. In addition, even the best presence on your (or your audience’s) favorite networks will have no direct impact on your search rankings.
Social media is great for brand awareness. It might be even better for customer service interactions. It does not, however, lead to traffic to your website that drives actual leads and customers.
Google only includes quantifiable data in its search algorithms and because it doesn’t have access to social media metrics, it disconnects social from search rankings. If you want to rank highly, you need an SEO strategy.
Reason No. 2 to invest in SEO: Investing in SEO is not expensive
I often hear that investing in SEO is expensive. That’s relative, but generally not true. In fact, you can get to a #1 ranking on a popular search term with absolutely no budget at all. Because you can’t pay your way to the top, you don’t need a line item. It really can be that simple.
Instead, SEO is all about the time you invest and the expertise you bring to the table. If you are looking for external expertise, that does mean spending some money. But you don’t need to budget anything for actual ads, because SEO is all about authenticity. It’s your actual website or business that ranks, not promotional messages.
Even when you do invest some money, don’t think about SEO as a cost. It’s an investment in your business that will pay off long after you spend the money. Your SEO rankings need nurturing, but they won’t just disappear. There is no campaign length. The investment you make now is into your business future and growth.
Reason No. 3 to invest in SEO: Slow and steady can win the race
Closely related to the above notion is the idea that SEO is not effective because it cannot achieve results quickly. That’s true. It takes the average business 4-6 months to see a tangible increase in web traffic as a result of search optimization. The important thing to remember is that this slow and steady approach is actually a good thing.
When you’re embracing SEO, you’re playing the long game. The reason it’s such a good long-term investment is that even though it takes some time to build, that build will pay off multifold. If you are looking for immediate results, don’t abandon SEO—instead look into some paid SEM ads that can complement your long-term efforts to rank on relevant keywords.
Reason No. 4 to invest in SEO: You can still beat your competition
Looking at those relevant keywords for your business and industry can be depressing, especially if your competition is already ranking highly and you’re nowhere to be seen. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even start. Beating your competitors and climbing to the top of the rankings is impossible if you don’t start somewhere. Remember: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Viewed differently, your competition’s head start might not actually be a bad thing. It gives you the opportunity to find the chinks in the armor of your closest competitors. They’re not doing all they can either, and once they reach a high spot on a relevant search results page, they tend to get lazy. Now is the time to strike.
Knowing what your competitors are doing is half the battle. Use some competitive SEO research to uncover their tactics and devise a strategy to beat them. They’ll never see you coming until your website suddenly receives more clicks and climbs up the rankings higher than theirs.
Reason No. 5 to invest in SEO: Bad experiences don’t predict the future
Unfortunately, I sometimes run into potential clients who swear off investing in SEO because they’ve had a bad experience. That’s all too common. Many in this game are unscrupulous or not transparent. They engage black hat tactics to get some immediate results, which get your website penalized and hurt your efforts in the long run.
Don’t let that take your eyes off the potential of this digital marketing channel. Instead, look for a partner who offers you the following:
- Transparency. Being open about pricing builds trust. Transparency about techniques, methodology, and processes showcases expertise.
- A good relationship. The right partner is open to constant communication, wants to learn about your business needs, and is committed to your success.
Sometimes, it’s just as important to simply avoid some of the red flags that come with questionable SEO companies:
- Guarantees. SEO is determined by search engines, not marketers. Anyone who guarantees results should be viewed questionably. No marketer has a ‘special relationship’ with Google or gets preferential treatment.
- Secret sauces. They just don’t exist in digital marketing. There are some best practices, and they tend to be well-known among experts. Strategy and execution will drive your success, not some secret recipe you never get to learn.
- Black hat tactics. Google specifically hunts and penalizes efforts to circumvent its algorithms. That includes automatically generated content, so-called doorway pages, hidden text and links, keyword stuffing, or link buying. Basically, anything that doesn’t involve building value and relevance for your audience first.
- The cheap option. The company promising to outbid everyone else probably is worth about that much. You get what you pay for. Sometimes, a larger initial investment actually gets you the skill and dedication you need and deserve.
Ready to Begin Investing in SEO the Right Way?
You won’t find easy help anywhere. But when you find the right help, you set a foundation for digital marketing success and sustainable business growth. All you need is a partner committed to you, and ready to help you build your efforts over time. If you’re ready for that step, let’s talk. Allow me to better understand your business, with a no-commitment conversation about your search engine optimization efforts.
Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder & CMO of LocalBizGuru, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10+ years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of digital marketing and SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as COSE, Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, Score and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.