Today, over 40 percent of online sales revenue comes from organic traffic alone. That’s almost half of sales coming from one category! Compare that to your pay-per-click, email marketing, social media, referrals and other lead generation strategies, and it’s obvious leads generated through search engine optimization (SEO) have immeasurable value for your business.
Despite this clear benefit, Search Engine Journal reports that only 44 percent of Canadian and US businesses have a search engine optimization strategy in place. Is your organization part of the majority that leaves organic traffic up to chance? It’s not too late to change that. SEO is a future priority for 34 percent of businesses, and with experienced support, they can improve their return on their marketing investment. Understanding search engine optimization can completely change the impact of your lead generation programs.
What exactly is search engine optimization?
SEO is the process of tailoring your website’s content and technical factors to make it more appealing to search engines. Instead of paying for advertising space, search engines freely recommend your content to their users. It does require an investment, however, to improve the quality and relevance of your business website.
At first glance, SEO might not seem like a high-return marketing strategy. Still, one of the most important things for business owners to understand today is that the changing online landscape means search engine optimization is a pillar of digital marketing. Aside from direct traffic, organic search is the largest source of website traffic, and SEO is an effective way to boost that traffic.
What do search engines look for?
An effective SEO strategy makes your website rank higher in search engine results pages, but how do search engines rank websites? The vast collections of algorithms and formulas powering Google and other search engines are intricate. How can your business improve its SEO if you can’t see the back end and there’s no clear guide to tell you precisely what search engines look for? The best way to approach SEO is to develop your website following proven principles.
At the highest level, search engines evaluate your website to see if it satisfies the criteria for E-E-A-T:
- Experience: Search engines look for content from individuals with real first-hand experience rather than simply summarizing information from secondary sources.
- Expertise: The algorithm will look for credentials, education and other indicators to determine the author’s credibility. For example, posts by doctors will rank higher on medical topics.
- Authority: Having other websites backlink to yours, having a strong personal brand and implementing thorough content architecture help establish the authority of your content.
- Trust: Trustworthy content on your website, like contact information (showing there’s a real person behind your business), reviews and testimonials, and technical factors (such as secure payments), is a top priority for search engines.
Keywords also play an essential role in how these algorithms work. Search engines look for pages that contain the proper proportion of terms in the user’s search to match them to relevant results. Your website needs to include the words and phrases your potential customers search for. Doing so can help SEO drive more customers to your business.
How search engine optimization supports your business
Now that you understand the basics of search engine optimization, let’s dig into how exactly it helps your business thrive and grow.
Driving overall traffic
You rely on your website to draw in visitors and convert them into paying customers. The first step is getting the highest number of relevant visitors possible, and search engine optimization is among the best ways to do so. You don’t want visitors who aren’t genuinely interested in your business, as they’ll simply leave sooner and increase your bounce rate (the percentage of people who land on a page and quickly leave without visiting another page).
Reaching a higher ranking substantially impacts how many people visit your website. Data from Search Engine Journal highlights the fact that 25 percent of people will click the first organic result they find on Google, making that number one spot highly sought-after by competitive businesses. Getting there means increasing your site’s E-E-A-T.
If your business is in the second or third spot, clicks drop to just 15 percent and 11 percent. The bottom of the first page of search results isn’t likely to do much good as you’ll only capture roughly 2.5 percent of traffic. Results on the second page and beyond are rarely seen, let alone clicked. Without a robust SEO strategy, you’ll find yourself farther down the rank with little to no organic traffic.
Reaching local customers
The online landscape can feel detached when your business isn’t location-dependent. But in reality, your business and your customers are in the real world. It’s critical to understand that search engine results and many other technical aspects of online marketing strongly emphasize physical location.
For many search terms—including “near me” or city-specific queries—search engines prioritize websites from businesses that are physically nearby. Optimizing your website to target local search traffic puts your company within easy reach of customers near you. According to HubSpot, 72 percent of consumers who perform a local search will visit a store within five miles.
Even if your business doesn’t have a physical location, there’s still an opportunity to optimize for local searches. Many companies implement SEO strategies that drive local searches across a broad area, changing messaging to match user demographics so there’s no geographic limit to your reach.
Avoiding high bounce rates
Targeting users interested in your product or service can significantly improve overall conversion. By using excellent copy and media, you generate high-quality leads and ensure that visitors stick around and visit multiple pages on your site, ultimately helping you avoid high bounce rates.
Based on data from CXL, organic search has some of the highest bounce rates for online retail at approximately 43 percent. This is primarily due to ineffective SEO strategies drawing in visitors who aren’t interested in a brand’s products. A high bounce rate signals to search engines that your website doesn’t have much to offer visitors, which lowers your ranking, so implementing strategies that avoid this is vital to your success.
Using your budget efficiently with search engine optimization
Your business only has so many resources at its disposal. Finding the allocation that delivers the best results isn’t always easy and often comes down to your specific niche. You can assess the effectiveness of your budget in various ways, usually through cost per lead or cost per conversion. SEO is one of the most efficient options to acquire those metrics.
A breakdown of the average cost per lead across marketing channels from Sopro shows that incentivized customer referral is the only channel more affordable than SEO. However, it is much more limited in scope. The average cost per lead can be as low as $35 for SEO, while email and social media marketing are closer to $65 and $95. Prices only go up from there. You can maximize your marketing spend by prioritizing SEO before moving on to other marketing strategies.
The benefits of search engine optimization are clear. However, there’s still the question of how your business can realize those benefits.
Challenges to successful organic lead generation
You’ll face various challenges to your success related to technical implementation and overall strategy. Here are some of the most serious issues that can impact your SEO strategy.
Undoubtedly, your website’s content should be carefully crafted to improve SEO. However, there is such a thing as over-optimization. If you’ve used SEO strategies in the past, you might recall the antiquated practice of simply stuffing every page with as many keywords as possible. Website design from years ago could even include massive blocks of hidden text. Today, search engines are much more sophisticated and harshly penalize these methods.
Your website design must consciously avoid ranking penalization due to over-optimization. Putting this into practice means implementing keywords in the correct ratio in webpage content without overdoing it. Simply adding the “correct” number of keywords isn’t a solution either. A complete approach to optimization entails evaluating metadata and introducing the proper mix of alternative keyword variations.
Forgetting the human touch
Getting visitors to your website isn’t the only thing you need to focus on. In fact, it’s just the first step. A successful business implements SEO to draw in search traffic and keep visitors around after that first contact. A website that’s been written for search engines first without thinking about people will quickly accumulate a high bounce rate. Disinterested visitors won’t want anything to do with your brand if they aren’t happy with your website.
Writing for people first is generally considered an industry best practice. While SEO strategy brings visitors in, the content on the page in question generates interest and drives conversions. If your website has high traffic and bounce rates, your SEO strategy might not be delivering the results it should. Interestingly, bounce rates vary across industries and page content types, so knowing how to interpret and evaluate bounce rates is essential.
Load times and responsiveness
While much of search engine optimization focuses on the content on your website, there’s also a lot going on in the back end. At one extreme, a truly dysfunctional website will see your brand severely penalized in search rankings. At the other extreme, minor improvements can see your website eke out an additional point where it matters most.
For the most part, these technical factors come down to speed and compatibility. Your visitors don’t want to sit around waiting for your website to load, so search engines won’t bother promoting a slow website. That includes both initial load times and responsiveness of elements on each page. Mobile compatibility is just as important, as mobile devices like smartphones now make up the majority of web traffic.
Search engine optimization keyword research
Another key element of a successful SEO strategy is targeting high-value keywords and phrases. A successful strategy will weave these terms throughout your online writing to increase search traffic. However, it will also include identifying the right words to appeal to your specific customer base. This entails careful research into which terms see the most volume, along with the search intent of those users.
Choosing the best keywords for your target audience can make a significant difference, as there is a considerable disparity across search volumes. Data from Ahrefs shows that 94.74 percent of keywords get less than 10 searches per month. Conversely, just 0.0008 percent of keywords get more than 100,000 searches. The best approach doesn’t just find popular keywords but also assesses the level of competition and the relative difficulty of reaching top search spots.
Understanding your results
You don’t simply leave your other marketing efforts to chance. SEO is the same. It’s an ongoing process where your strategy needs to shift as you better understand the landscape and your brand’s position. This means capturing the results of your SEO efforts, which isn’t always as cut and dried as digital marketing analytics for other campaigns.
There are a variety of tools that go into capturing organic traffic analytics. Many businesses use dedicated landing pages for specific products and services to help hone their SEO, as metrics such as bounce rate and session time are easily tracked for these individual pages. Businesses also track individual keyword rankings over time and compare them with competitors.
With the wealth of challenges that developing and implementing effective SEO strategies entails, many businesses turn to professional digital marketing services to receive the full benefits of this critical marketing channel.
Building your search engine optimization strategy
What’s your current Google rank when potential customers search for keywords related to your product or service? If you’re not near the top, you’re leaving opportunities on the table. A brand that isn’t on the first page for any high-value keyword is missing out on traffic from countless potential buyers.
Think about the following questions to determine whether your SEO strategy is where it should be.
- Are your organic campaigns getting the traffic they should?
- Are you reaching the specific customer base you’re targeting?
- Does your organic traffic consist of high-quality leads?
- How much is your digital marketing approach costing you?
- Have you taken technical factors into account?
- Are you confident in your keyword research?
- Are you measuring the results of your SEO?
- Does that data drive your strategy in the right direction?
If you don’t have the answers to these questions, or they aren’t clear, that’s okay. It takes comprehensive understanding and experience to develop a website and lead generation program for a successful SEO strategy.
Mindspin Studio provides digital marketing strategies that incorporate all the essential elements of search engine optimization. Enhance your brand by making your online presence stand out from the sea of competitors in search engine results. Your potential customers will thank you. Contact us today to discover how the right SEO strategy can grow your business.