Detail Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Read Time: 3-5 minutes

Growing your Business with Digital Marketing really works, but it takes a plan.  Over the next few weeks, our blog will dive into the various components of a good digital marketing plan.  Today, we urge you to take a few minutes from your busy day to read this short blog post about a key element of digital marketing—Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engines like Google and Bing are part of our daily lives, so we won’t insult your intelligence by defining what search engines are.  Although we’re all familiar with the major search engines, far fewer people understand the term, “Search Engine Optimization” in a way that helps them to utilize it.

Why SEO matters and what it does for your business

Search engines power most online movement even more than social media or paid advertising.  Actually, Americans searching online trust organic search results more.  Rand Fishkin, an SEO expert at Moz, finds:

  • Among all US searches, only approximately 2.8% of individuals click on paid advertising.
  • Bottom line – About 20X more traffic opportunity exists in SEO than paid advertising on both mobile and desktop.

In other words, you’ll get more business from people who search for your business on Google and then click on your website information than you will by advertising on the search engine itself or by advertising on social media.

The key is that search engines will channel consumers to your website if you publish quality content such as articles and blogs, using exact keywords that also appear throughout your website. The more people see that content and click on it, and the more times they visit your website, the more search engines recognize you as a trusted source.

In this way, SEO is superior to paid advertising because once you’ve established your dominance of the keywords in your content and on your website, the search engines will send you customers who are researching those keywords, whether they’re “cheeseburger in Thomasville” or “gyms in Tallahassee.”

In order to gain this traffic, you’ll need to optimize your website to help search engines have the details needed for properly indexing and displaying your content in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).  There are basically three options for doing this: 1) Do it yourself, 2) Hire a consultant, or 3) Hire an agency.

Some businesses choose to research and employ SEO on their own if their website isn’t too complex. To decide whether you need to outsource, consider the value of your own time, the level of expertise you’ll need, and the time it will take to accomplish the task itself.  There are some tools on the market like Yoast and Market Goo that make the DIY path possible, but most businesses wind up contracting with a consultant or agency.

Think of the search engines as your business partner and you’re on the right track.  We need them and they need us.  Google has a  .  Both   and   have Webmaster Guidelines, guiding businesses to serve online users’ goals and to provide superior content.

SEO increases traffic to your website, but you don’t want just any traffic, you want buyers.  Knowing what people are searching for and ensuring the information appears so that search engine crawlers locate and comprehend it is the secret to strong SEO.

In order to do this, you’ll need to know what key words your potential customers are using as they search—and what associated content they might click and read.

Finally, a note on SERP

When results appear in the SERPs, some are paid advertising and others “organic.”  SERPs contain results in varying formats: at the top of the page, featured snippets or boxes with an answer; next, People Also Ask boxes or a series of images (image carousels), etc. The appearance of SERPs changes according to consumers’ inquiries.

On Google, certain features are “organic”/free which is good news for business owners.  SEO can impact these items, including featured snippets.  It’s noteworthy that featured snippets are “organic” results on an SERP.

We left out a lot, but trust us, reading every technical bit would be like wading through concrete soup.  We’re going to move on and write the blog for next week.  Now, just a suggestion . . . you deserve to go have lunch or play with the dog. Stay tuned for more digital insights next week!