It’s somewhat funny, but also unfortunate that this question is still asked. Over time at webFEAT Complete, we’ve found that businesses deal with so-called “SEO companies” that tend to give the industry a bad rep. These companies aren’t using best practices or keeping up with trends and therefore they aren’t delivering results. This can leave business owners doubting SEO, and the potential it has to offer businesses (take a look at our post on what to look for in an SEO company if you’re in the market for SEO services.) Another scenario that is becoming more prevalent is the ever-changing search engine results page (SERP.) For example, say you do a search for “water heater repair.” You may find that the results page is primarily filled with advertisements and maps (that are all monetized or in the process of being monetized by Google,) you may not even find an organic listing above the fold (before you have to scroll down.) Business owners see this and think, “Well shouldn’t I just be paying for advertisements?” While AdWords is certainly something we recommend, SEO is still critical to achieving optimal results with those paid-ads. Last but not least, SEO is a process. Some people become impatient with the process and don’t give implemented strategies time to develop and show results, which can also create doubt. We have the data to prove that SEO definitely still matters, and it does work when done properly.
Why SEO Matters
Where do I even begin! First and foremost, an SEO Analyst keeps up with algorithm changes and trends. This can be beneficial in three ways:
1. Changes made on the website will have an impact, because Google will like the changes. This is true in the scenario that the analyst is making the changes, or if they are just making recommendations as a consultant. Whoever is making the changes will be equipped with the knowledge to make improvements that will be effective. For example: SEO’s that keep up with trends know currently that speed and load time is important. Google has created AMP pages that “trim the fat” off of webpages to make them load almost instantaneously. When keeping up with this trend, adjustments could be made and AMP could be implemented. Since the SEO was aware of this in the beginning stages, it could offer a competitive advantage.
2. Your website won’t be doing outdated things for which you could be penalized. You may have a great site that was made with SEO in mind, but in 5 years some of the strategies used on that same website can become so drastically outdated that Google will actually penalize you for it, and knock you down in the rankings (or sometimes remove you entirely!) A great example of this is keyword stuffing. If you “stuffed” a keyword or phrase into a bit of content several times to the point that the content may not have made sense, or you could tell it was being over-used on purpose, it used to result in a ranking boost. Now, it can get you a penalty with Google.
3. If your business is seasonal, analysts can monitor and compare trends year over year to better predict when busy season will hit, when to prepare for it online and so much more (see graphs below.)
Aside from keeping up with things, SEO can solve simple problems you may encounter with a website. We’ve had clients that have a new website, but they don’t appear anywhere in Google search for their brand name. If someone doesn’t know your domain name, they go to a search engine (likely Google) and type in your brand name to locate your website. If that user can’t find a brands website by searching for that brand, they will probably move on and find someone else to get their product or service. This can result in the life or death of a business as a whole, and therefore is critical in the first stages of SEO. The optimization process will help people find your brand by its name, and then later for product and service related searches specific to your business.
Say you’re in an industry where it’s not extremely competitive; while rare it is still a possibility. If you’re not doing the right things on your website people won’t be able to find you, and imagining the amount of potential customers lost hurts. If a website is optimized, you could potentially dominate the industry. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re in a competitive industry and not doing SEO, you won’t stand a chance in search. SEO is necessary in these cases to even compete, but when you begin to rank and appear towards the top of a page for qualified searches, businesses reap the benefits. It’s not easy and it’s a process, but it is worth it in the end when it’s done properly.
Why SEO Works (when done properly)
When proper SEO is done it is recognized, because we can see with analytics that site traffic increases. These analytics can also verify that qualified leads are coming to the website. We’ll do a webFEAT Complete example: If someone were to search for Build a Website, they could be searching for someone to build them one or a place where they could build their own. If we look at our analytics and see people searching for phrases like “Local Cincinnati Website Designer” it’s likely that they’re looking for someone to do it and are exploring options. When a company ranks for a very specific, focused phrase that has buying intent, they will do well. With SEO, a business will rank for a variety of phrases that likely “snowball effect” until you ideally control a space or are a known force in that space that appears towards the top for many related searches relative to your industry.
To put all of this in perspective, say you have an Ecommerce website. The goal of any Ecommerce website is generally to make sales online, or have a 24/7 salesman. Say your Ecomm website sells shoes. You have all these shoes, but no SEO has been done to the website. If someone goes into Google and searches for “men’s black leather penny loafers” and you sell them, you won’t have many sales, because you won’t rank for that search or searches like it. With SEO, you have the opportunity to be presented as a potential seller to everyone in the market for men’s black leather penny loafers. As you can imagine, there is likely a high demand for that across the United States and the world. If you are able to appear on the first page or the top of the first page for a search like that, business will be booming.
On the other hand let’s say you have a non-ecommerce business. Perhaps you’re a fried chicken restaurant in Chicago, IL. There are surely a lot of fried chicken restaurants there, but some of them are doing SEO, some aren’t, some have great reviews and articles on them, some just don’t. If SEO is being done properly, the business would see a boost in traffic and revenue. Optimizing for search has the power to put you in front of anyone searching for a “fried chicken restaurant” or “Chicago’s best fried chicken.” Without SEO the business (probably) will not be coming up towards the top of the first page for searches like this, and it will miss out on thousands of customers every year.
At The End of the Day
Indeed SEO does matter and it works when done properly. It gives business owners the opportunity to have their brand placed in front of the world, which can dramatically improve the number and quality of leads. Even if nearly the entire SERP is monetized, people are aware that AdWords cost businesses money so they go to organic results, or there are times where fewer ads will be running and organic listings take up the majority of the page. What I’m getting at is that if you are thinking about trying SEO, I would strongly recommend it. At webFEAT Complete we do our best to set realistic expectations, time frames and then we deliver those results. We’ll lay out a plan, walk you through reports step-by-step and show you how things are working with concrete data. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us!
Also published on Medium.