Opportunities Lost When You Avoid the SEO LabyrinthDownload PDF Subscribe to Insights
As published in the Fall 2019 edition of Stretto magazine
Do you know why so many people roll their eyes when somebody mentions SEO? Because there are no guarantees with SEO. This lack of guarantees has led some business leaders to dismiss SEO like it’s a myth or urban legend. That’s a mistake. Let’s not confuse guarantees with ROI and impact, though. The only guarantees with billboards or digital banner ads are impressions. There are no guarantees with TV commercials except impressions. None with referral programs except impressions. None with brand mascots or radio spots except impressions. There are, however, ample opportunities with all of these tactics beyond impressions. Those opportunities exist within SEO, too.
Savvy marketers know what it takes to have a broader organic reach, but few are taking advantage of the opportunity to truly optimize and maintain a healthy website. Why? Technical aspects presuppose the capacity for a learning curve, algorithm and results page updates must constantly be monitored, and there’s a steady flow of quality content to continuously create. It’s easy to see why the labyrinth of SEO is often put on the back burner. It’s complex and subtle. If it were easy and obvious, everybody would be doing it.
Many marketers have a tendency to be susceptible to “shiny object syndrome” and instant gratification. This leads to a reactionary mindset rather than a proactive strategy. As a result, brands choose to prioritize other initiatives over SEO—efforts that may provide great results in the interim but results that turn out to be short-lived.
Consider the opportunities you may be missing by downplaying the importance of SEO.
FREE BRAND AWARENESS
Not to be confused with SEM, which relies on paid results, SEO aims for organic results. In other words, SEO puts your brand in front of people who are actively looking for what you offer but may have never heard of you, without your having to pay for an ad. Instead of being unknown and unfound, you become both known and found by searchers with the help of SEO. This organic reach works even when your paid search efforts are turned off.
It’s already been mentioned but bears repeating: quality SEO delivers interested prospects to a brand’s front door. SEO is foundational for inbound marketing. A brand’s willingness to properly and attentively optimize a website distinguishes that brand within an industry, at least on the search results page. Inbound marketing is all about lead generation. When a digital marketing team consistently delivers interested, qualified prospects to a sales team, not only will the office rivalry between sales and marketing fall by the wayside, but a brand’s profit margins are better poised for growth.
For ecommerce businesses, those leads can move to sales with a handful of automated digital processes and an intuitive user experience. The internet never sleeps, but you should. Let your brand’s website work around the clock for you; a disciplined SEO approach makes this possible.
Lest brick and mortar businesses dismiss digital tactics as inapplicable, it’s vital to note the value of local search optimization. Consumers ask Google, Alexa, and Siri for “near me” recommendations all the time. The search itself reveals an intent to visit the business in person. SEO employs a variety of techniques to point traffic to your business: keyword research, blog posts, and the company name, address, and phone number (NAP), provided it appears consistently wherever it lives on the internet (website, directories, social media profiles). Optimizing a brick and mortar brand’s website for local search opens opportunities for foot traffic that would otherwise be missed. A variety of tracking technologies exists to help businesses tie foot traffic back to a digital initiative so you can measure effectiveness with clear attribution.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP STATUS
By creating high-quality content that’s optimized for search, your brand can position itself as a thought leader in the industry. Google has altered the search algorithm to prevent a singular domain from monopolizing search engine results pages (SERPs), opening the door for a variety of voices to appear on the page. It’s an opportunity more brands should capitalize on. Online content is digital education, and education has traditionally been an effective sales technique.
Here’s a little-known fact about search engine optimization: nine times out of ten, SEO efforts also improve the user experience (UX) on your website. From ADA compliance to headline hierarchy, what is a best practice for SEO is usually a best practice for UX as well. That bodes well for companies that rely upon customer retention (i.e., all companies).
Sites with good SEO typically provide the user with a great experience. When you eliminate frustrations and provide customers with a pleasant experience, you are more likely to retain those customers. They find you through an online search, have no difficulty navigating your website regardless of what device they use, experience an easy process and great service, and tell their friends they’ll be back. Isn’t that the ultimate goal: for prospects to become customers who become brand advocates? In the 21st century, word-of-mouth is often initiated by a digital search.
SEO is the unsung hero working behind the scenes to deliver qualified prospects to your digital front door. It’s the automatic sprinkler system to a lush lawn, the personal trainer to a celebrity’s red-carpet appearance, the parachute rigger to an Airborne Division.
For every internet search you make this week, think about all the opportunities brands have to win your business as a result of that search. Think about the sales left on the table by companies that didn’t believe SEO was worth the effort, sales not just related to this search, but sales that never happened because a potential lifelong customer never discovered the brand.
Qualified leads, awareness, reputation, and the lifetime value of customer retention. That’s a trifecta plus one. What brand can afford to ignore those types of opportunities? Even if you view SEO as a complex labyrinth, there are guides who can point you in the right direction. It’s a long-term play full of possibility and ripe with ROI.