On the top of many agencies lists is the opportunity to drive additional visitors to their websites. This is done using search engine optimization, which is a series of steps that have a simple goal - place your website on the first page of as many search engine responses as possible. Since the dominant search engine is Google - we can simply say that SEO is designed to put you on the first page of Google searches.
Why SEO Makes Business Sense
SEO can deliver highly qualified customers, because it helps people who are already looking for what you provide find you on the web. It is the opposite of traditional mass marketing that seeks to blanket large audiences with your message as many times as possible - an expensive and increasingly ineffective approach. Instead, a search engine strategy connects you with people who are already on the hunt for services.
Search Matters - Branded vs. Non-Branded
The first page (and preferably the top of the page), is the place where the clicks happen. The vast majority of responses occur on the top of the search list, with decreasing number of responses on the second and third pages of search.
Search is more than just people looking for the name of your organization. That is called a “branded search” - it contains a brand name of a service or business. Only those who know about you will enter your name into search. Of course, eventually you want to become so well known that people do just that. Think of a brand name like “Kleenex.” This brand name has become the term most people use for facial tissue.
Where are you on the “household name index?” A simple way to find out is to ask 10 strangers who they would call if they needed ______________(fill in your service or product category here). This is, in essence, what we do if we only set up our SEO to function based upon a branded search.
People start by searching for non-branded terms based upon their need or problem.
Search for health related services begins with non-branded terms that are descriptive of the needs, challenges, or general services that people want. The multiple terms, such as senior services, eldercare, home care, and hundreds of others are all search terms that your organization can rank for on the top pages. Commonly called, “keywords,” this is just one part of the process of developing effective SEO for your organization.
The Science of Search
Search engines like Google, operate on a mathematical algorithm that combines a list of factors that will deliver to the searcher that which they are seeking. This combines keywords, along with a whole list of other factors, delivering online searchers to the content on your website.
An important contrast should be drawn between SEO that will help you grow and SEO shortcuts that may not work at all. SEO is designed to bring you “organic traffic.” This comes from people who are searching with a search engine like Google or Bing for specific information that they find on your website. It depends on satisfying the criteria for getting found (SEO), but it doesn’t work without quality content on your website. Both the search engine and the searcher don’t want to end up on an online listing that leads to low quality or “bait and switch” types of information. Be careful about SEO companies that make big promises about the number of leads - the wrong strategies can result in a corrective action by Google.
Effective SEO must be paired with quality online content and effective website development since it is all part of the customer experience that shapes your brand.
SEO alone is not a strategy, it is an important tactic. It is most effective as one part of an overall marketing plan.