The Top 15 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO

I wrote this as a project for the company I’m interning with this summer, a Nashville-based internet marketing business called Local Search Masters.  It’s entertaining though. I swear.

The Top 15 Reasons Why Your Business Should Utilize SEO

1.    It is a cost-effective investment.

SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate new business.  If you happen to know what you’re doing, it’s possible to optimize your web presence on your own at no cost other than some time.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, you don’t need to give up your first-born child to see incredible results.  Depending on the market, industry, and the quality of the work done for you, even a small investment in SEO can be enough to get your company ranking near the top of the first results page (that hallowed place where the vast majority of clicks occur) for a few relevant keywords.  Such improvements can increase traffic to your site dramatically, and, again, they cost very little, especially when one considers the long-term benefits of increased visibility.  An optimized site can get thousands of new pairs of eyes to check out your company at little or no monetary cost to you.

2.    SEO has become a necessity, not a luxury.

In the modern business climate, utilizing the Internet correctly is not an added bonus; rather, it’s necessary for the long-term wellbeing of any company.  If you don’t take advantage of the online world to capture new business, chances are your competitors will.  Why would you sit back and let others draw in all your potential customers?  Even if you’re not interested in using Google primarily to drive sales, SEO is still vital because it’s a great way to enhance a company’s comprehensive web presence (for more, see #4).

Your pre-SEO web presence. Notice how lazy, passive, and bland it is. It’s like the Pillsbury Doughboy without the hat and winning smile.

Your optimized web presence: dynamic, eye-catching, and in much better shape.

3.    It builds trust and credibility.

How often do you ever go beyond the first page of Google?  I, like most people, rarely move past the “Go” to muck around in the “ooooooogle.”  It’s not just because we find what we’re looking for on the first page; we sometimes don’t.  Rather, it’s because we inherently trust results on the first page more.  We know that results that rank highly are probably both relevant to what we need and likely trustworthy businesses (such is our faith in the King of Search Engines).  This is why most people try a different search when they can’t find what they need after the first page or two.  They’d rather try their luck changing the search terms than go on a wild goose chase through the backwoods of later results pages where quality links are few and far between.

Sure, I’ll look at the results for the red O. I might even look at the first of the yellow Os. But page 3? Don’t make me laugh.

4.    It helps ensure a consistently strong message.

Not too long ago, it used to be that you only had to worry about your company’s image on one small plot of digital territory: the company website.  In the modern age of business, however, this no longer cuts it.  In addition to your website, there are all sorts of places where your company’s name can pop up, including (but by no means limited to) Google Places, tons of review sites, directories, social networks, and blogs.  While this can certainly be an opportunity for your company, it can also cause problems for your business’s image if its web presence is not managed correctly.  Poorly filled out directory listings, low social media activity, and bad reviews are just a few examples of this.  An SEO specialist can take care of all of these things for you, finding the various places on the Web where your company shows up and ensuring that the message, wherever it’s found, is characterized by both excellence and consistency.

How did there get to be so many of these?

5.    It brings in the right traffic.

Most people understand that SEO helps increase the online visibility of a company, which in turn leads to a greater number of people viewing your site.  While volume undeniably matters, the quality of that volume is also important.  SEO improves the quality of your traffic by targeting the right kinds of consumers, namely, those that are looking for goods or services that your company actually provides.  Websites that bring in more quality customers usually see a corresponding increase in the number of views actually converting into sales.

6.    SEO is consistent with the intentions of those searching.

We all know that certain types of advertising, especially on the Internet, can be extremely annoying.  Pop-ups and intrusive banner ads are like online mosquitoes that we have to swat away from time to time.  To make matters worse, the material is usually completely irrelevant to the interests of the person browsing the Web.  Advertisements like these are hardly ever popular with consumers and tend to turn people away from the business in question.

One of the great things about SEO is that it’s a process that’s molded around the desires of the consumer. Instead of pushing your way into the minds of unsuspecting people who just want to leisurely surf the Web, SEO allows companies to welcome in people who already want their services in the first place.  You’re not trying to sell ice to an Eskimo.  You’re simply making it very easy for the Eskimo (and the other thousands that desperately need an ice salesman) to find you should he or she happen to run out of ice.

SEO Rule #1: Don’t annoy the Eskimos.

7.    It helps you take advantage of free advertising.

Google is your friend. The King of Search Engines wants to take your business and show it to the whole world (or at least those people who type in certain keywords), but it can’t do this unless you work with it.  If you’re not, at the very least, optimizing titles, meta descriptions, and other media like photos and videos, you are missing out on valuable, free advertising space. Make it easy for search engines to spot you, and you’ll make it easy for your customers as well. Help Google help you.

 8.    ROI can be monitored easily.

Unlike many other marketing initiatives, the return on your investment into SEO is fairly easy to analyze.  SEO companies make use of software like Raventools.com to track all sorts of data, including: increases in traffic to your website over any period of time, changes in search results rankings for specific keyword terms, social media activity, and even bounce rate (the percentage of page viewers that leave your site immediately once it loads).  A good SEO specialist can track all of this data for you and update you via weekly reports.  This allows businesses to see definitive results so that they can understand exactly what they’re getting for their investments.

I can think of no witty caption for this graph. This is from Raventools.com.

 9.    Even if your business ranks well on results pages, it might not stay there.

In the unlikely case that you’ve managed to luck out and place highly on Google without any significant optimization, you’re still at risk to lose such a prime position in the future.  Google comes up with cutely named (Penguin, Panda, etc.) updates to its algorithm regularly, and sometimes these changes can cause significant ranking decreases for businesses.  SEO companies make it their priority to understand how these differences can affect search results, and they help their clients modify their websites to rank better with the new algorithm. No matter if it’s Platypus, Pony, Parakeet, Peacock, or Polliwog, future Google updates can seriously damage your online presence as a whole and, ultimately, (gasp!) your sales.  Investing in SEO will allow you to adapt to these changes more quickly and easily.

They’re significantly less cute when they cause your rankings to slip and your sales to drop.

10. Offline sales benefit, too.

SEO doesn’t just generate online sales.  These days, many consumers choose to do some research on the Internet before making a purchase at a traditional brick-and-mortar store.  A recent study found that 89% of consumers utilize Internet search engines to make purchasing decisions.  They won’t learn more information about your product if they can’t find it or if they are led astray by your competition.  Even if page views don’t convert directly to sales on the website, they might soon become sales at your physical store.  Ranking highly is just as important for research purposes as it is for sales.  The higher up on the results you are, the more likely you are to be looked at, and the more likely you are to make sales, in cyberspace or in the real world.  It’s that simple.

11. SEO is a champion of small businesses… and large ones.

As mentioned before, SEO is cost-efficient.  You don’t need to have boatloads of cash to make yourself more visible and more relevant online.  By utilizing free services like the Google Keyword Tool and Ubersuggest.org, businesses that don’t want to invest a lot of money into SEO can see improvements at little to no cost. Thus, even companies that don’t have Apple-like amounts of cash can afford to be seen and compete on a national level.  Even if you do decide to pay someone to do a more comprehensive SEO job for you, the cheaply generated sales you pick up over the following years will likely more than make up for the investment.

A large business (red diaper) attempts to intimidate a smaller one. Fortunately, the smaller one invested in SEO, so an upset is on the horizon.

While the cost effectiveness is something that both large and small companies can appreciate, larger companies also stand to benefit in their own way.  Larger companies often have multiple locations in different regions; this can mean multiple listings on review sites as well as more Google Places, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts to manage.  SEO specialists can help you keep these various sites positive, informative, and updated. Further, as mentioned in #4, they can ensure that the message is consistent across all these locations and pages.

12. It is often more relevant than paid advertising.

I could write a fairly convincing paragraph explaining this, but just click here then come back.  I’ll wait.

If you were too lazy to click, here’s a good summary: SEO, which you can do for free, drives over three-quarters of all search traffic, whereas search advertising, which you have to pay for, receives less than 25%.

Don’t get the wrong idea about paying for links; sometimes it is a good investment, as it can be a quick way to get to the top of the page if your ranking results are abysmal.  Moreover, companies can benefit from these if their brand is strong enough to lure page viewers into clicking on a link that they know has been paid for. It can also be the right decision if the company website has a high conversion rate and/or a high margin on each sale to make up for the money spent.  However, keep in mind that consumers can be wary of clicking on these, as advertisements inherently have agendas, while organic search results (in the minds of consumers, anyway) do not.

13. SEO creates a better customer experience.

This is true for a number of reasons.  First, it makes your business easier to find, which customers appreciate, especially when they’re looking for your company specifically.  Second, optimized sites are easier to navigate, as these sites generally tag content fully, provide clear, explicit links, and include helpful sitemaps.  Further, well-optimized sites integrate more seamlessly with blogs, social media sites, and directory pages. This allows the user to get a better snapshot of your company.

One customer is happy because he patrons a company that enhances and integrates his overall experience through various channels via SEO best practices. The other customer is so distraught over his lackluster, non-optimized experience that he has gone blue in the face.

14. You can capitalize on slow-to-adapt competition.

Even though SEO has been around for a while now, some companies still don’t invest in it.  If you’re lucky enough to be competing with companies that don’t, you can take a lot of potential sales that would have gone elsewhere.  Unless your product or service isn’t really ever sought on the Internet (A lemonade stand, maybe?), your business can make substantial gains in market share by being the dominant online presence in the industry.

15. Experts can do it for you.

If you don’t have the time and expertise to dive into the intricacies of SEO yourself, you can place your web presence in the hands of people who will make it their priority.  Depending on the scope of the project, SEO and related operations can be tedious and complicated.  Why not let the people who know what they’re doing and who enjoy the work just do it for you?

And, if you’re really smart, you’ll outsource the work to masters (masters > experts).

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