“What is Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO)? A broad definition is that search engine optimization is the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines. More narrowly, SEO seeks to tweak particular factors known to affect search engine standing to make certain pages more attractive to search engines than other web pages that are vying for the same keywords or keyword phrases”. – from The Balance Small Business article, SEO Definition – What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Businesses often spend a lot of money to build and publish a website that is user-friendly and stylish, thinking, similarly to in the movie “Field Of Dreams”, that “If I build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, visibility on the web is not quite that simple.
More than 93 percent of today’s consumers search for and make decisions about the products and services they are interested in buying on the web via the handy tool, the search engine. Most consumers searching on the web only look as far as the first page of search results before clicking a link to get what they want.
The fact is if you are not near the top of the search listings and on the first page, traffic to your site is low and your costly website is not doing its job.
In an effort to get more visibility, many turn to paid search advertising and gladly pay a large search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing for ads on the first few pages of search results. Depending on the competition for the keyword phrase you are attempting to match you will pay from a few cents to several dollars for a click to bring a prospect to your website. Because of the prohibitive cost of these, AdWords and other campaigns search advertisers let advertisers set a daily budget and once the daily limit of expenditure is exhausted the ad disappears for the rest of the day. What search advertisers don’t realize is that the cost of search engine advertising rises about 20% per year and that as more competition enters the market the cost of popular keyword phrases rises higher and higher and if you don’t up your keyword bids your ad drops lower in the rankings and disappears quicker. Google has also reduced the number of ads it shows per page, reducing the supply, so the chance of getting your ad on the top of the first page at a reasonable price is growing smaller and smaller. To make matters worse, 80% of web searchers skip over the ads and click on the natural listings in the middle of the page.
How do the natural, organic search results that appear on the first page below the search ads get there? The answer is relevance. Relevance is a term that the search engines use when referring to how well a web page meets its internal ranking criteria. Relevance is determined by examining a web page’s coding, content, link popularity, and traffic rank. When the internal ranking criteria are met the web page is deemed search-engine-friendly and the web page will appear high in the results.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of updating a website to make sure that the coding, content, link popularity and traffic rank meet these criteria. When done well, web pages will begin to appear on the first page or two of Google and other major search engines within 30 to 60 days of optimization. When done extremely well, the phone will be ringing with orders for the products and services that a business really wants to be found for.
Compared to PPC (pay-per-click) or AdWords ads, the typical client of SEO services will notice that they are getting on average 5 times more traffic than paid search advertising and that they are only paying about one-third the cost. And the beauty of organic listings is that there is no daily budget and they are always on. It’s a beautiful thing.
PPC does have its value especially for specials or seasonal offerings, but for long-term campaigns that drive traffic to your website and orders to your business, SEO is by far your best bet.