Almost every marketing class mentions it. Every marketing blog I subscribe to talks about it, and almost every company I have been interested in recommends you know how to do it. The Internet has come a long way since Netscape in 1994. People spend more time online than anything else; 78.9% of people online in the world is from America alone. This is why companies have thrown all their marketing efforts into digital marketing, and are looking for people who are masters at tackling the wizardry that is search engines. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has become the pinnacle of internet marketing. If you aren’t using SEO, you aren’t taking full advantage of the marketing potential the internet has. But why is it so popular? Do we really need this? Let’s find out.
How did we get this way?
Let’s back track a little. SEO, first in foremost, is the process of affecting the visibility of your website or a webpage in a search engine’s non paid search. Back in the old days, it used to be a submission process: people submit there website’s url, bots would “crawl” through the site, and they would return information to be indexed for search engines. As the amount of websites started to increase, algorithms took the place of the submission process, making it easier to index all websites, without excluding others. There are some limitations with this though: these bots can’t get behind password protected screens, and poor link structure can keep pages hidden from the site. Also, with content management sites creating duplicate versions of the same page, the search engine bots can’t get original content. Hence, SEO. When we optimize our site, we are helping these little guys out by purposefully writing meaningful and relevant content; this way bots can take that information, and index it for search engines like Google to find us.
Yea I know, it’s pretty interesting.
Ok, cool we help robot spiders. Why do I care?
Pro-tip about marketing that I heard from Mark in class, “It’s not about getting customers to your business, it’s about bringing the right customers to your business.” Trying to convince people they want to use your business is a whole other sport; with search engine marketing, you are targeting people who are already looking for your point of expertise. That is why SEO is so important. People are looking for you, and if you aren’t ranked high in the search engine, they won’t find you. According to a study done in June 2013, 33% of users click on the first link of their search results; 91.5% of users click on a link from the first page. Remember that line I borrowed from Mark in my previous post? “If you aren’t searchable, you aren’t hireable.” It applies here too.
SEO = more internet visibility to users you WANT
That right there, ladies and gentleman, is the reason SEO is so popular. It gets you more of what you want: customers.
Another thing about SEO is that when it is done correctly, it will make your users happy with your site as well. Search engines also have the limitation of not being able to see content when it is in Flash, images or Java. It also doesn’t like keyword stuffers. So all those websites with all the Photoshop title screens and flash intros? They probably don’t rank too well. Also, who wants to go to a site that has things popping out at you when you are just trying to read their content? Not a lot of people; in fact, it’s very annoying. With SEO, the amount of bling would have to be minimized in order to rank well, and users could have a happy experience going to your site, and seeing exactly what they are looking for. When visitors type a query into a search box and find your site, will they be satisfied?
So let’s recap. SEO is popular because:
- More visibility to customers you want
- Big organic search results with minimal cost to you
- Better experience for your customers, which in turn helps you get more credibility when they share your website with others
Conclusion: SEO is popular because it’s common sense. The more personalized and relevant you make yourself, the more people want to come to your site.
Will it always be popular?
According to my reading for the week, yes, it’s slated to grow 20% a year. Technology always changes though, and I suspect that as it does so will the internet, and in turn, the marketing we do for it. However, I believe SEO will always be a major part of internet marketing, no matter where we go from here. Think of it this way: Since the core of SEO is creating relevant content, why wouldn’t SEO always be popular? You always write with an audience in mind; therefore keywords will drop naturally into your writing; how many times have I said SEO in this article?
To play devil’s advocate however, recent changes to Google’s metrics have been making it harder to see if SEO changed anything or not with site traffic, due to some data sources being “(not provided)”. Some believe this is Google’s push to have people do more paid advertising. Could this be a return to the dark ages of web ads bombarding the screen? Possibly, it will probably take a good 5-10 years before we reach that status again. I also don’t think it would be good for the consumer, since 94% of traffic comes from organic (non-paid) searches, not paid ads. Time will tell.
What I don’t think will last a very long time however is SEO specific companies. Since everyone can learn how to do SEO, and search engines are starting to move away from the emphasis on link building and keywords, SEO companies really are starting to seem obsolete. I think they will start to disappear in the next 5 years.
I want to learn about SEO!
Great! It’s best every marketer knows how to do SEO anyway; while being specific in SEO is fantastic, you need a well rounded knowledge of marketing in general in order to properly market your site in my opinion. I highly suggest checking out the Beginners Guide to SEO and also CopyWriting 101, as both will give you knowledge on writing relevant content and utilizing SEO to it’s highest potential.
Did you like the article? Do you think SEO isn’t really the bee’s knees? Comment below!