Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an area where many mid- to large-size companies can literally be leaving millions on the table. SEO is often referred to as organic search. It refers to the unpaid, algorithmic process used by search engine companies to assess your website and determine where your company will show up in the “natural” rankings when a customer, consumer or prospect enters a relevant search term. SEO also refers to the methodologies used to measure, improve and integrate those rankings into a viable marketing system.
This natural search ranking can have a profound effect on a company’s volume of business. There are over 6 billion searches per month on major search engines. These search engines have become a primary way for many people to find and compare high-involvement products and services. As a result of this search process, they often either buy online or determine where they will make a purchase through the best brick-and-mortar location in their area. According to ROI Research, online search affects 49 percent of major online purchases and 42 percent of major offline retail purchases.
Where a company shows up in organic search engine results, also determines success. This eMarketer story highlights a research study that shows 62 percent of people click a link on the first page and it diminishes rapidly after that. The study also demonstrated many people associate companies showing up on the first page of natural search results as the major brands in a category.
These figures are compelling and illustrate the importance of SEO to companies where search engines play a pivotal role. Some companies try to do SEO internally, but this MarketingProfs article (free membership required) illustrates the inherent danger in that approach (SEO: The True Cost of Doing It Wrong). There are also a number of unscrupulous SEO companies that make bold promises about improving SEO, when in fact they can actually hurt your search engine rankings.
For SEO to be done correctly, it has to be built into your website and marketing system from the ground up. An integrated effort is needed to do the following:
1) analyze present results
2) determine fundamental and superficial changes that are needed to affect positive increases to rankings
3) implement those changes into a new SEO Web framework
4) track the results to ROI utilizing a well-designed data tracking and analysis methodology
5) build SEO improvements into other components and channels of a company’s marketing platform