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Is SEO Still Important?

Is SEO Still Important?

01 July 2021

Not that long ago, “search engine optimization” (SEO) was one of the most buzzed-about phrases in marketing. In recent years, though, social media marketing and paid search campaigns (Google Ads, for example) have taken center stage in the digital realm—perhaps undeservedly.

While it’s true that social media engagement is crucial for capturing the attention of specific demographic groups, evidence tells us that social media only drives about 5% of the overall interactions with a company’s website. Paid search campaigns don’t fare much better; they only account for about 14% of a given website’s traffic. By contrast, a website’s ranking in organic search results—the cornerstone of SEO—is responsible for about 51% of its interactions. If you’re only able to focus on a single online marketing tool, search engine optimization is still the clear choice in most industries.

Why Should I Care? 

Ideally, you want users who are looking for an organization like yours to find you before the competition; a website that ranks high in relevant search results is a good way to accomplish that. That high ranking then translates to increased traffic to your website, which is what you really want. That’s where you sell your products and/or services, generate leads with contact forms, etc. In short, it’s where you launch your most effective calls to action.

When we consider the highly targeted nature of organic searches, the impetus becomes even more clear. Users generally search for products and services when they need them, not preemptively; if someone searches, say, “janitorial products” then there’s about an 81% chance that they intend to purchase those supplies now or in the very near future. If your company is at or near the top of their search results, those customers-in-waiting are more likely to wind up seeing your storefront first and buying from you rather than a competitor.

Search engine optimization is also more cost-effective than other modes of marketing. Getting your website situated among the top search results for your targeted keywords and phrases takes effort, yes, but maintaining a high rank once you’ve earned it requires comparatively little work. Traditional marketing materials need to be redesigned or refreshed every 12 months or so; solid SEO only needs periodic maintenance once the heavy lifting has been done. What other sort of marketing campaign only needs to be done once and then has the potential for massive, unending returns afterward?

Other Considerations

Modern users are more nuanced in their tastes and search habits than ever before—it’s an inevitable side-effect of the proliferation of the Internet and the technologies that help us sift through its massive library of content. Beyond keywords, clearly defining your brand so that human users and software crawlers can understand your organization is vital. You should make use of copy that explains your business in a meaningful way without shoehorning product pitches or keywords into places they don’t belong/don’t benefit your audience. Your website needs to feel “human”, for lack of a better word.

However, despite the shifting parameters, it has to be noted that SEO’s evolution has also rendered it relatively future-proof; the practice has existed since the mid-90s and shows no signs of fading into obscurity. That’s partially thanks to smartphones, each of which has a built-in search engine and web browser (and, increasingly, smart assistants that tap into search engine results directly to answer user inquiries). Search volume grows month-over-month with no signs of stopping, so marketing techniques that speak directly to that behavior will show increasing returns as people become more reliant on search engines to find the things they want or need.

There is perhaps no smarter way to spend marketing dollars than enlisting the services of a bona fide SEO expert.

IDMI.Net’s Search Engine Optimization Process

When you trust your website to our team of SEO experts you can rest assured that measurable results will follow. Our process begins by researching your industry and identifying important and/or frequently searched keywords and phrases. From there, we work with our clients to compile a list of up to 10 of those keywords that are most desirable for them to target. We always try to include some “long-tail” key phrases (those which are longer and point to more specific results), too, because they’re important for increasing visibility. Overall, though, keyword determinations generally come down to a combination of factors like audience search habits, overall search volumes, tastes of your target audience, organizational branding, and so on.

Once identified, those keywords and phrases are woven into the text and meta-elements of your website; when a search engine’s crawlers identify those important words and phrases, the corresponding pages of your site are indexed (stored in the search engine’s database) to be returned among related search results. Responsive web design is vital in this regard because Google has recently completed its switch to mobile-first indexing—which means that the mobile versions of websites are indexed ahead of the desktop versions. It’s also important that keywords and phrases be integrated naturally into the content of your website because search engines are developing increasingly sophisticated methods for separating human writing from incomprehensible walls of text that are designed solely to boost SEO rankings.

Of course, search engine optimization has evolved over the years. While keywords and phrases are still the foundation of the practice, other elements come into play as well. Starting in May of 2021, Google will begin to use “page experience signals” as a ranking factor. The concept essentially refers to the way a website “feels” to visitors—loading speeds, interactivity, stability, etc.—as well as security and mobile-friendliness. Google is also making a concerted effort to expand the number and variety of snippets that it features on its homepage, a potentially massive boon to an organization of any size. But it’s only within the grasp of companies whose websites play nicely with Google’s crawlers.

For a rudimentary example of how all of this works, consider a candy retailer with a newly built website. The text and meta-elements of their website should include words like “candy” and “candy bars”, sure, but there is a slew of other potentially relevant keywords like “rare candy” or “imported candy” that they can capture if they have a selection of hard-to-find or imported goods. If they stock other sweets like soda, then regional naming conventions might also come into play in the keywords they target (“soda” on the East and West coasts, “pop” in the Midwest). We’d help that retailer identify 10 of the best and most relevant keywords/phrases and then integrate them naturally into the company’s website, as well as identify any design elements that could be having a negative impact on SEO.

As our hypothetical candy retailer’s traffic and sales rise, they start a feedback loop where the increased traffic and visibility they see as a result of solid SEO leads to higher, more stable search rankings. Once that process has started, it only requires periodic maintenance to keep it spiraling higher and higher. To that end, we supply our partners with monthly reporting that indicates how well their keywords are performing. We also include up to two hours of monthly maintenance work with select SEO management plans.

So, SEO is Right for My Organization?

Yes, emphatically. While social media and paid search campaigns might be the darlings of the marketing world right now, search engine optimization is still one of the workhorses. Your audience probably doesn’t turn to social media to find products and services, at least not with anywhere near the frequency that they search for them. Being at the top of their results should be a high priority for your company regardless of what industry you’re in. Solid SEO is important for everyone.

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