Digital Marketers say “SEO” so often that they almost forget what the initials stand for—search engine optimization. Even if you are no stranger to the term, it may not be clear what that means. Even further, you may ask, why should I bother?
Marketers who don’t get around to SEO have reasons that aren’t hard to understand. They might say it’s complicated, I have other priorities, or it would take too much time. But the answer to “why bother” is that your main responsibility is to get leads and customers. Increasingly, that’s means online visibility.
According to SalesForce, 87% of shoppers in 2019 began their search on digital channels, so it’s critical that your audience to find you first, not your competitors. At the heart of SEO is getting that visibility by helping Google find your content and then determine it should appear at the top of the searcher’s results page.
Why You Need to Hit that First Page of Google
Here’s a key takeaway: According to Moz, content on the first page of Google results captures 71% of search traffic clicks, with some studies showing it as high as 92%. After page one, the clicks immediately drop, with second-page results coming in at below 6% of all website clicks. The vast majority of people never go beyond the second page. In short, good SEO translates to visibility and leads. Poor SEO means almost no one will see you.
With these numbers in mind, marketers have put SEO front and center of their digital strategies.
Google ranks content on over 200 factors, using an ever-changing algorithm that is primarily based on relevancy to the user’s search term, authority on the topic, content quality, and the content freshness. The SEO expert’s job is to understand the relative importance of each factor, apply SEO techniques to the content, and refine SEO practices over time. For marketers without SEO expertise, these techniques can be somewhat fuzzy.
Build-your-own websites like WordPress, Wix, and GoDaddy give marketers access to basic SEO tools, and marketers are expected to know how to maximize them. That’s hard if you don’t fully understand SEO, don’t have SEO tools, or don’t hire an SEO pro. Unfortunately, we know that insufficient SEO can cause you to fall behind your SEO-savvy competitors.
What About Pay-Per-Click Ads?
SEO isn’t as big an issue if you solely rely on paid ads, such as PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. Google guarantees top placement in exchange for advertisers paying a fee each time the ad gets a click. SEO, on the other hand, is unpaid; placement is based on how Google’s algorithm ranks your content based on how useful it will be for the searcher. The most useful content will “organically” rise in search rank. The ultimate goal is to get to the top of page one, and SEO helps get you there.
Which is Better—Organic or Paid Search?
Traffic and Leads
53% percent of all website traffic comes from organic search (source: BrightEdge). This is primarily because ads are seen as biased. Users aren’t looking for promotional content. They’re looking for answers to their specific questions.
Authority and Trust
By creating high-quality content for your audience at every stage of the buying cycle, from awareness to purchase, they get to know you as a valuable resource and trusted brand. But this only happens if your content has a high Google ranking.
Better Close Rate
Leads from search engines have a 15% close rate, while outbound leads (such cold-calling, direct mail, and media buys) have less than a 2% close rate (source: Business 2 Community). Instead of reaching people who may or may not be interested in hearing from you, inbound methods attract interested audiences who convert to high-quality leads.
SEO Is Relatively Cheap and Has Longevity.
The average cost-per-click across industries is $2.32, and PPC campaigns need continuous funding. On the other hand, great optimized content lasts and can be repurposed. Ongoing publication of high-quality, optimized content builds upon itself over time.
All this doesn’t mean that PPC is useless. It guarantees top placement, and you have total control over what the user sees. However, of all US searches, only 3% of people click on paid ads; most people blow right by them and go right to organic search results. There are several reasons for organic search’s drawing power. One is that organic search results cover more overall real estate on search pages. Also, unpaid content is seen as more credible than ads. Add it all up and it’s easy to see that content optimized with SEO has the best opportunity for visibility and bringing traffic to your website.
Optimized Content is Critical to Online Results
The importance of SEO can’t be overstated. As more proof, 57% of B2B marketers say SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative (source: HubSpot). If you want to boost your SEO know-how, there are plenty of online resources to help you expand your knowledge of SEO—no matter what level you’re at.
Get Schooled on SEO
Here are some top notch resources to help you get to the top of your game when it comes to SEO.
We’ve found some of the best resources to stay up to date on the latest and greatest SEO trends for 2020. Whatever your style of learning is, this variety of resources will keep you on top of everything you need to know to stay current and fresh in the world of SEO.
The SEO Marketing Hub 2.0, a Free Library of SEO Resources for 2020: This free resource library covers over 41 key topics—SEO fundamentals, keyword strategies, content optimization, content audits, link building, and SEO tools, all the way to more advanced technical SEO strategies.
Yoast SEO Blog: Yoast SEO is a popular search engine optimization plug-in for WordPress. Blog articles cover topics such as content SEO, technical SEO, analytics, eCommerce, and WordPress. You can read their SEO basic posts, subscribe to their newsletter, and gain access to a wide variety of eBooks.
Search Engine Journal: This is a great website that can help you keep current with SEO-related topics. Their mission says it all: “Educating and empowering the SEO community by providing the Their resources include podcasts, ebooks, webinars, videos, and guides on topics including SEO, PPC, content, social, and industry news.
Neil Patel’s Digital Marketing Blog: This digital marketing guru and consultant seems to be everywhere, blogging constantly about everything digital marketing. In addition to blog articles galore, his website also has guides, tools (such as the SEO analyzer), and other resources.
SEMrush Blog: This software-as-a-service company sells subscriptions to online visibility and marketing analytics software. Their SEM blog focuses on a wide variety of digital marketing techniques. The website also offers webinars, dozens of eBooks, and podcasts.
MOZ Blog: The industry’s top digital marketing experts offer their best advice, research, how-to information, and insights on how to increase SEO and digital marketing skills. Their SEO Learning Center has resources for beginners, information on advanced SEO tactics, and refreshers for building traffic.
Search Engine Watch: This blog article from the industry publication Search Engine Watch, “Google advanced search: 6 Powerful Tips for SEO,” offers six advanced search tips to help you find guest posting opportunities, uncover missed internal linking opportunities, unearth duplicate content, and more.
aHREFs YOUTUBE CHANNEL: AHREFs offers a well-regarded SEO toolset, and its YouTube channel has great free tutorials that show you how to increase organic search traffic. There are tutorials for people with all levels of SEO knowledge, from beginner to expert.
Digital Marketer: Get something for nothing with Digital Marketer’s large resource library full of free marketing tools, templates, and webinars. You can also sign up for their Free DM Insider Newsletter for weekly tactical ideas. For a monthly charge of $97, you have access to more training through their Virtual Marketing Academy.
Search Talk Live (Podcast): Digital Marketing advice experts Robert O’Haver and Matt Weber offer expert SEO tips, advice, and insights gleaned from their years of experience. Learn about SEO best practices, tools and analytics, social media, link earning, content marketing, paid campaigns, and more.
SEO 101 (Podcast): SEO 101 covers a wide range of SEO topics for beginners, starting from square one. Hosts Ross Dunn and John Carcutt provide helpful basic-level information, without overwhelming you with technical details.
The Story Engine (book or audible): The Story Engine: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Content Strategy and Brand Storytelling Without Spending All Day Writing. This free book by Kyle Gray provides a clear, concise, and actionable strategy to leverage inbound marketing for both B2B and B2C businesses. The book includes how-to information and easy-to-use content marketing templates.
Is SEO Part of Your Digital Strategy?
There’s no escaping the conclusion that content-based organic traffic is the way to get visibility, traffic, and high-quality leads—and SEO is a big part of the equation. Busy marketers don’t need to know everything about it but they can certainly up their SEO game. They can also rely on the help of SEO experts who can apply advanced techniques to make the most of their content.