When it comes to digital marketing, SEO (or search engine optimization) continues to be a key strategy to establishing impact online. Essentially, SEO is the practice of improving a website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing etc, with the idea that the higher a website ranks, the more likely it is to be found by users who are searching with relevant keywords. Think of your own experience in searching for information online and you’ll know this to be true – you hardly go past more than three pages of search result listings. In fact, Search Engine Journal found that 25% of users clicked on the first organic result in Google, with click-through rates falling sharply to just 2.5% by the tenth listing. This is the reason why many businesses continue to invest in SEO services as a means to drive traffic.
But ever since its inception in 1998, Google’s teams have made adjustments to produce sharper algorithms to parse through the internet and deliver results to its users. This evolution has changed the standards of what makes for good SEO best practice, which is why early methods may not have the same impact (if at all) for today’s websites. This could be why it makes some businesses question if SEO services still have that same impact on ranking, or if it is just a waste of money.
DOES SEO REALLY WORK?
To answer this, it’s important to understand how search engines work and what factors they consider when ranking websites. There are hundreds of these factors that search engines take into account when determining the relevance and quality of a website, and companies like Google are always tweaking them, in the belief that if users quickly find what they need on their search engines, the more likely they’ll return to use them. These factors can range in importance over time, and can include the quality and relevance of the website’s content, the website’s structure and organisation, the presence of keywords in the website’s content and metadata, and even the website’s overall user experience and speed.
The main benefit of SEO services is that they can help optimise these various ranking factors. While Google does not officially publish all of the specifics to prevent sites from “gaming”, there are shared resources to guide businesses with their SEO and SEO agencies can help with that. For example, they can help a website improve its content by conducting keyword research and creating high-quality, relevant content that includes those keywords. Or, they can improve a website’s structure and organisation by optimising its internal linking and navigation, which can better help search engines understand the hierarchy and importance of the website’s pages. In addition to these on-page optimisation tactics, SEO services include off-page optimisation strategies like link building, which builds credibility for your website through links to it from other reputable, popular, or established sites.
So the short answer is yes – SEO services really help with visibility when it comes to ranking a website.
ALL IN GOOD TIME
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy and the results won’t happen overnight. It can take up to several months or even years to see significant improvements in a website’s ranking, depending on the competitiveness of the industry and the website’s existing state.
It’s a great option for smaller businesses who do not have a large budget for advertising, because experts in SEO services can help them identify their relevant keywords and extract differentiation from competitors to find success in rankings. For example, while a larger business may boast store presence or offer giant discounts, smaller ones can provide personalised attention or customisation and can include keywords as such. This results in more qualified traffic with an audience that is more likely to be interested in the products or services the website offers, leading to higher conversion rates and a better return on investment.
If you do come by agencies promising fast, unrealistic results, you might want to be a little wary. While some tactics show up results quickly, they could potentially harm a website’s ranking if the search engine algorithms detect them, resulting in your site being penalised. These tactics, known as “black hat” SEO, include tactics like keyword stuffing – a common method used to include plenty of keywords that are irrelevant to the topic or make for bad reading and awkward content. While these quick solutions may seem tempting, you won’t be able to recover your standing if you’re ever caught – thus risking the future of your business to small visible gains.
BUILD THAT SUPPORT SYSTEM
It’s also important to remember that SEO is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to driving traffic to a website. Other digital marketing strategies, like paid advertising and social media marketing, will also help drive leads to a website; and further landing pages and good design and copy with lead users down the marketing funnel to the desired action. It is crucial to support SEO strategies with a combination of these other systems to achieve the best results, subject to your audience’s habits.
SEO is not a one-time fix. Do allot a dedicated team to observe, maintain and improve your website’s ranking with good creations and optimising the online experience. Most importantly, they must be able to track the results of SEO campaigns so as to have a data-derived report to make informed decisions about future efforts.
Still a little lost on building that first website or optimising it for SEO? Let the consultants at Weave guide you through similar best practices and achieve the results you are looking for.