Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an integral part of any business’ digital marketing strategy.
Rob Marsden, Head of SEO at international digital marketing agency, Search Laboratory, highlights the importance of a long term SEO strategy for businesses who want long-lasting customer retention, quality page traffic and catchment of valuable custom.
So what is SEO and why is it important?
SEO is the collective steps taken to get your website in front of the relevant audience, with the goal of increasing traffic and, ultimately, online revenue. When a person searches for something online, the search engine aims to deliver the best possible website that will answer their query. They do this through a series of algorithms which identify what website content is relevant, and high quality. The pages are then presented in the order that the search engine deems to be most relevant.
By optimising a website, we make it easier for search engines to identify whether the content is relevant and trustworthy; the most authoritative websites from this list will then be displayed in the SERPs to the person searching. The higher up in the SERP, the more likely it is you will get traffic.
There are multiple factors that help search engines decide if a website is trustworthy, including but not limited to:
If the site is mobile-friendly
If the site is secure (HTTPS vs HTTP)
The quality and length of on-site content
Editorial content and authors who have a high EAT rating (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness)
If the site has high-quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites.
Search engine algorithms constantly change and refresh depending on trends, search terms and content, meaning staying up to date with SEO is an ongoing process. By keeping up with Google, we find ways to get results for our clients in organic search whilst still adding value to other digital channels, the brands we work with and the customers they serve.
What are the benefits of SEO?
Compared to some digital marketing streams, it can take time to see the benefits of SEO; we can see ROI for PPC almost immediately, for example, while it might take some time before we see SEO content rank and gain traffic.
However, there are many benefits to investing in SEO. Appearing higher up in the SERPs can increase brand awareness, drive qualified traffic, and lead to more sales, and compared to paid digital strategies, it’s a cost-effective way of generating leads in the long term.
Brands who do not invest in SEO are unlikely to make it on the first page in the SERPs, which means they miss out on the majority of searchers looking to buy. Brands dominating the top position in the SERPs are most likely to get relevant visitors; this drops dramatically even within page one, and those on page two or three are unlikely to get a look in at all.
As well as attracting visitors in the first place, SEO keeps them on-site for longer. Not only does it ensure they get the content that they are after, SEO typically makes a site more user-friendly, making it easier for site visitors to find what they are looking for and reducing the exit rate.
The high-quality content which is necessary for SEO can also help to position your brand as a thought leader, instilling more trust in your customers, as well as opening up wider business opportunities.
Is SEO worth the ongoing investment?
It’s important that SEO is included as part of your long-term digital marketing strategy, rather than something to invest in as a one-off or at particular times of the year, for example just before a sale. Because search engine algorithms are constantly updating, and new content is being uploaded to the internet daily, any increase in rankings delivered by a one-off campaign or tactic is likely to diminish over time. Ongoing SEO activity ensures that your brand continues to be at the top of the SERPs and in front of your target audience.
It can also take months or even years for the full effects of SEO activity to become apparent; this is particularly the case if we have been working on fixing historical search engine penalties. Looking at SEO as a one-off tactic undersells the value of SEO activity and prevents your brand from reaching its online potential.
By Rob Marsden, Head of SEO at international digital marketing agency Search Laboratory.