It’s 9 o’clock on Monday morning and an email slides into your inbox. It’s the weekly report from your advertising agency. Yikes, your budget is almost drained. Your ad strategy is sound and it’s generating sales, but you’re beginning to wonder… is it sustainable? Is it scalable?
Or perhaps it’s time to revisit those three little words: search engine optimization. You suspect you could be doing more in this area, but is it a worthwhile investment? Where should you begin?
What is SEO in simple terms?
Simply put, SEO strategy refers to the practice of improving your website’s rank and appearance on the search engine results page (SERP). SEO’s meaning in a business context is working to make your content appear higher in search results so more people will visit your website. This can lead to more prospects, conversions, and sales.
What is SEO marketing?
SEO marketing is an essential piece of your digital marketing strategy. It includes tactics like:
- Keyword optimization
- Link building
- Website optimization
There are four types of SEO marketing: on-page, off-page, technical, and local. The best SEO marketing strategies integrate all four types.
On-page SEO involves creating high-quality content centered on one keyword theme. Optimize your content by including the keyword in your page’s title, URL, meta description, and headers.
To master off-page SEO, you must build your backlink strategy. Once you’ve created linkable content, identify external sites where your audience hangs out. Then, ask for a backlink (be sure to clarify what’s in it for them and their audience).
Technical SEO might sound complicated, but it’s really as simple as providing a good user experience. Follow web design best practices when it comes to your site structure and mobile-first design. Work with your technical experts on optimizing elements like load speed and security.
If your business serves customers in a particular geographic area, local SEO is critical. Incorporating local keywords into your content and having an active social media presence can help your brand show up to in-market searchers nearby.
The importance of SEO in digital marketing
Recent research reveals that the average working-age internet user now spends 6 hours and 37 minutes online each day. That means your target audience spends at least a third of their waking time online. And one of your primary marketing goals is to get them to spend a little piece of that time on your website.
Organic search is the primary source of web traffic for many businesses. Using SEO to improve the visibility and ranking of your website in search results can generate more traffic. And the best part is, it’s organic – meaning you didn’t pay for it with ads.
Not only is generating organic traffic easier on your marketing budget, but it’s also a more stable tactic. By investing some time up-front to optimize your site for search and create high-quality content, you can generate search traffic for months and years to come, without paying a dime (okay, Warren Buffet).
The importance of SEO for small businesses
Small businesses shine in many areas – agility, passion, and innovation, to name a few. One thing they often don’t have? A huge operating budget. Luckily, in terms of return, SEO is one of the most cost-effective business investments you can make.
In addition to its crucial role in digital marketing, SEO has even more benefits for your small business. It can:
- Help you better understand your customer. Effective keyword research can reveal everything from market shifts to consumer intent. This intelligence can lead to new opportunities and better business decisions.
- Improve your customer experience. After all, no one’s more in-market than your current customers. High-quality content can improve customer satisfaction, retention, and upsell performance.
- Strengthen your company’s reputation. SEO plays a role in digital PR. Building a positive presence over time can also dilute any negative SERP hits that pop up for your brand (it happens to the best of us).
SEO for business growth
Now that you know how SEO plays into marketing strategy and your business’s success, using it to grow your business is a no-brainer.
By improving your SERP ranking, you can increase your website traffic. More website traffic leads to more sales by sheer numbers. But since SEO also improves user experience, it can increase your conversion rate as well.
That means SEO can impact growth in at least two ways. Here’s an example.
How SEO can grow your revenue
Let’s say your website gets 1,500 visitors per month from a mix of organic and paid sources. Your conversion rate is 5% and your average sale is $85.
1,500 * 3% = 45 sales * $85 = $3,825 per month
By implementing some simple SEO strategies, you increase your number of visitors to 2,800 per month. Your revenue is now:
2,800 * 3% = 84 sales * $85 = $7,140 per month
Get after it! Your revenue’s climbing, but you’re not done yet. Because organic search traffic converts at a higher rate than paid, you also see your conversion rate increase. So in a few months, your equation looks like this:
2,800 visitors * 4% conversion rate = 112 sales * $85 = $9,520
You’ve more than doubled your revenue without any changes to product or pricing. This simple illustration shows the enormous impact SEO can have on your bottom line.
How to do SEO marketing
Knowing the foundations of SEO is vital, but enough with the theory already. How can you get started with SEO marketing in practice?
Here are a few SEO steps for beginners:
- Research keywords
- Incorporate the keywords into your content
- Create a plan to build new content
- Implement a link building strategy
Your SEO strategy doesn’t have to be airtight to start with some of these tactics today. Integrate SEO into your marketing strategy as a complement to your other channels, and watch your numbers soar.