It doesn’t take long between the day you decide to start a website and the first time you hear someone talk about why you need SEO.
No matter what type of website you have, if you want people to find it, SEO is important. And if you want to make money off your website—whether through ads, an eCommerce store, or because you use it to promote your business—the reasons to enhance your online presence through SEO are even stronger.
But hearing people talk in general terms about why you need SEO isn’t necessarily persuasive. SEO requires work and, if you’re going to make the investment in SEO services, you need to hear a solid case for the benefits of SEO.
Here’s everything you need to know about effective SEO strategies.
What is SEO?
Before we can get started, it’s important to review what SEO is and how it can help your business. SEO stands for search engine optimization. That’s the fancy term for getting your website to show up when someone does a search in Google, Yelp, or Bing (but honestly, it’s mostly about Google).
Optimizing your website through SEO consists of four main types of work:
- Keyword research – Any good SEO strategy depends on identifying the right keywords to target based on the language your audience uses when they go searching for what you do.
- On-page optimization – Sometimes called technical SEO, on-page optimization includes filling in the right tags in the HTML of each page, and attending to on-page ranking factors like site speed.
- Content creation – The search engines like fresh content, so part of SEO is consistently creating great content that’s relevant to your audience and targets the keywords you want to rank for.
- Link building – Links from other websites (known as “backlinks”) show Google they view your website as authoritative, so the hardest part of SEO is getting other relevant websites to link back to yours. Internal linking through your own blog posts can also help strengthen your online presence and SEO efforts as well.
That’s basic SEO in a nutshell, although it’s a complicated industry with a lot of nuances. But before it makes sense to dig in and learn more, you need to know the reasons for SEO services.
10 Benefits of SEO Marketing for Any Website
Businesses tend to make the biggest investment in SEO for reasons we’ll get into in the next section, but even if your website is more for having fun or sharing your passions than it is for making sales, SEO can benefit you.
Here are ten reasons every website should care about SEO.
1. Google plays a huge role in how people find information.
When you’re arguing with your friends about a piece of trivia, trying to find the best place for a meal out, or researching a software product you’re considering, where’s the first place you turn? Google, right?
For most of us, it’s become the go-to place to find information and answers on just about any topic. Google alone processes over 3.5 billion searches a day. Whether your website provides gardening tips, movie reviews, or homemade soap for sale—when people go looking for that information, Google’s one of the first places they turn.
2. SEO rankings lead to increased traffic.
Analyzing results across thousands of websites, Bright Edge found that 51% of all website visits come from organic search results. If you want people to visit your website, the research is clear: you need to show up in search results.
And where you show up makes a difference as well. Over 30% of clicks on the first page of the search engine results go to the top result. And for any results past spot number three, clicks drop off significantly.
3. The traffic SEO produces is relevant.
Traffic is only a good thing if the visitors find what they’re looking for when they land on your website. If you have a website all about vegetarian cooking, but somehow keep getting traffic from people looking for hamburger recipes, your visitors aren’t going to be happy.
One of the benefits of SEO is that the people who come to your website are those directly looking for the type of content you provide. If you optimize your recipes for the terms “veggie burger” and “vegetarian burger” (and leave the term “hamburger” off the page), you can trust that the people who find you on Google are specifically looking for vegetarian burger recipes.
4. SEO Marketing is affordable.
Online marketing tactics can be divided into two main categories: those you have to pay for (like PPC in marketing and paid search marketing) and those that are technically free, but require a lot of time to do well. SEO falls into the latter category. If you have the time to give to it, you can get results without spending any money.
For websites that won’t be bringing in a profit, it makes more sense to pursue SEO vs. PPC as a tactic. That said, it is competitive. If you want to compete for high-value keywords that big budget websites currently rank for, then you’ll have a hard time managing it without hiring help. But if your aims are less ambitious, you can get results with SEO targeting long-tail keywords without having to throw money at your efforts.
5. People trust search results.
Google has worked hard to create an algorithm that delivers quality results. That’s paid off in regular people considering those results to be trustworthy. The Edelman Trust Barometer found search engines to be one of the most trusted sources of information, beating out the media, human editors, and social media, with 59% of people saying they feel confidence in search engine results.
When Google starts to put your website content on page one, it’s a signal to people that your website can be trusted and is worth checking out. It gives you an immediate boost in authority.
6. SEO results are long lasting.
SEO is a long game. It takes time (and a lot of work) to start seeing results for your website. But that patience pays off. Once your website starts to gain top rankings, you can expect them to stick around for a while.
There are no guarantees—top ranking websites do sometimes drop back down due to Google penalties, or competitors working hard to overtake them. But generally speaking, once you’ve put in the hard work to gain a top spot in the SERP (search engine results page) for a relevant keyword, your web page is likely to stay at least on page one for months to come. Particularly if you keep creating new content and working to build links to your site.
7. SEO raises brand awareness.
Traffic is nice, but before anyone can even think about visiting your website, they have to know it exists. In addition to earning you clicks, the more people see your website show up in the search engines, the more they come to associate your website with the kind of topics you provide.
The first time they encounter you on the SERP, your website is just a generic name. By the tenth time, you’ll be a familiar and—hopefully—trusted source.
8. Organic results earn more clicks than paid ones.
Organic results compete both with other organic results, and with paid ones. While PPC results increasingly take over more and more SERP real estate for certain types of keywords, many searchers still prefer to click on organic results.
Over 65% of clicks in the SERP on desktop go to organic results, as compared to a bit less than 4% that go to paid ads. Paid ads have a place in search marketing for many brands, but a successful SEO strategy is still likely to drive more traffic.
9. SEO makes you easier to find on mobile.
For several years now, internet users have spent more time on mobile devices than desktop ones. While unfortunately, mobile users are less likely to click on SEO results than people on desktop do—less than 40% of mobile searches end in an organic click in the study shared above— that’s still a significant share of the population you can reach through search.
As long as you make your website mobile friendly, SEO can help raise your visibility with mobile users as well as desktop ones, and drive some traffic from the billions of people using their smartphones to search.
10. What’s good for SEO is good for visitors.
Google’s goal is to deliver the best results to the people searching. Many of the ranking factors they consider are tied directly to making your user experience and web design SEO-friendly. Google likes sites that load fast because people prefer it. They like valuable, fresh content because it demonstrates that the website is current and providing useful information to visitors. And they pay attention to user behavior signals like time on site and bounce rates, because it tells them something about how much the people who click on a site like the website they landed on.
By making your website optimized for search, you’ll make it better for your visitors as well. And that’s a win-win all around.
10 Benefits of SEO for a Business Website
That’s already a long list of benefits that applies just as much to business websites as any other type, but if your website will help you make money, you have a whole other list of reasons for SEO to consider.
1. Most consumers start the shopping process online.
Twenty years ago, when someone decided there was a new product they needed, they may have started their search at the local mall or headed to WalMart. Now, a full 87% of people start their shopping online, and 48% of them start on Google.
If you want to be considered during their search for the right product, you need to not only have a presence online, but be easy for them to find at the moment they start looking.
2. SEO makes it easy for the people in your target audience to find your website.
Traditional advertising was a numbers game. Big brands would pay for spots during the Super Bowl or in Times Square, hoping that reaching a huge number of people would mean reaching enough that were the right people. But your business doesn’t need to be found by everyone on the planet—just the people who have a need for what you sell.
With SEO, you can craft a strategy for being found by the right people—the ones that match your buyer personas and are looking for what you’re selling.
3. SEO is inbound rather than outbound—it’s opt-in marketing.
Outbound marketing, now sometimes referred to as disruption marketing, requires reaching people with your message while they’re doing other things, such as watching TV or driving down the street. People don’t get a choice in seeing billboards or getting ads in the mail.
SEO is a type of inbound marketing, meaning that instead of interrupting people when they’re doing other things with mentions of your product, you enable them to find you when they’re actively looking for what you do.
4. With SEO, you can target keywords with purchase intent.
Sometimes a Google search has nothing to do with shopping, but sometimes the term a person uses clearly indicates they’re about to make a purchase. SEO gives you the chance to target different types of keywords based on different campaign goals:
For example, a shoe company hoping to raise brand awareness and build a relationship with customers can target informational keywords like “how to shine leather shoes.” But for when they’re ready to make a sale, they can target transactional keywords like “business shoes for sale” or “hiking shoes free shipping.” By the time someone’s making a search like that, they’re already thinking about purchasing.
5. SEO helps you make the content you pay for go further.
Content marketing requires a big investment. For it to pay off, people have to be able to find the content you publish. And with so many websites competing for attention—those of your competitors, but also media, entertainment, and social media websites—getting people to notice your content is an uphill battle.
SEO and content marketing go hand in hand. Just as content marketing helps improve your website’s SEO, making sure you optimize your content for search helps more people find it. If you’re going to do content marketing, having an SEO strategy is an important part of making it worthwhile.
6. SEO can be a tool for growing your email list and social following.
Different online marketing tactics can all support each other. For people to join your email list, they have to first find your website. SEO gets you the traffic that leads to those sign-ups. In the same way, if you use your website to promote your social channels, people who like your content are more likely to follow you on their favorite social media sites as well.
At a certain point success becomes cyclical. SEO can help you increase your social following, then your social channels become a way to promote your content, which increases traffic and helps with SEO. SEO is thus one important part of a full online marketing strategy.
7. SEO results are measurable.
With Google Analytics, you can track how much of your website traffic comes from organic search, see what pages people are visiting most, and (with some limitations) learn what keywords are bringing them. That makes it easy to track how well your SEO efforts are paying off in traffic.
But you can get much more detailed and useful analytics with a subscription SEO tool or WordPress SEO plugin. These will track your rankings across a wide range of keywords, and provide data-based insights into how your SEO performance compares with that of your competitors.
With the help of analytics, you can continually measure how well your efforts are paying off. And you can use what you learn to improve your SEO strategy over time for ever better results.
8. SEO results are exponential.
Many of the ranking factors that search engines use to determine who gets the top spots are dependent on getting traffic. Before you can have a low bounce rate or evidence of people spending a long time on your site, people have to visit your site. And in order for you to earn links, people have to first find your website and decide it’s worth linking to.
All of those things start to happen more when SEO improves your visibility. Top rankings not only help your target audience find you, they also make it easy for a writer looking for a good article to link in a new blog post to find your content on the topic.
SEO is a hard road at first, and something you have to keep working at for the long term, but once you start seeing those first results, getting more becomes easier.
9. SEO can increase in-store sales.
The reasons for SEO for eCommerce businesses are obvious. But if your business is primarily reliant on sales made in the brick-and-mortar store, you may wonder if all these benefits apply in the same way to you.
As big as online shopping is, many people still like the experience of going to a store and browsing aisles of products. But before they get there, they’re often turning to Google to decide where to go and get an idea of what products to seek out.
On top of that, 71% of people are pulling up the internet on their mobile devices even once they’re in the store to do further research on products. A lot of in-store shoppers will base their decision to buy on what they find when they pull up Google while in your store. If messaging you control on your website is what shows up, you increase the chances of winning their business.
10. SEO can help you increase your profits.
Everything on this list all adds up to one big benefit that matters most to business owners: making money. By making it easier for people to find you and trust you, SEO leads to higher sales. That’s what makes all the work that goes into it well worth it. If you commit and do it well, you’ll make that money back and more.
How to Get Started with SEO
SEO is clearly a worthwhile investment, but there’s a learning curve to get started.
It’s a complicated industry, and one with its share of scammers who can hurt your website more than they help. If you don’t have time to learn all the ropes yourself, you need to find someone you can trust. HostGator’s SEO experts are skilled professionals with years of experience helping other businesses improve their SEO rankings.
We know what we’re doing well enough that we’re happy to offer any website owner an SEO review entirely free of charge before you make a commitment. Get in touch today to see if we can help you start to reap the benefits of SEO.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.