Search engine marketing itself has certainly changed over the years, as the engines themselves tweak the intelligence and algorithms they use to spider the worldwide web and then rank websites accordingly based on relevancy to an individual query. While Google has been the dominant search engine for years, there are others like Yahoo and Bing who also leave a nice-sized footprint in the industry. But throughout the last decade, one could use the old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Meaning, search engine marketing is as important today as ever.
Organic or natural search is what I’d like to discuss here, since paid search engine marketing is a different, yet somewhat related, topic altogether. For business owners or website owners, can’t you just build a website, add content and pages, and then eventually wait for your site to be ranked in Google? Sure, you can do that. But it is foolish to think you can do that and have any sort of success in search engine marketing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a practice which seeks to optimize a website properly so that it ranks appropriately high for relevant search engine words, phrases and queries. For instance, if I run a business and website that sells all kinds of golf clubs and accessories, I would want to rank highly in search engine results when people type in things like “Callaway” or “Ping” or “Titleist”, since those are presumably brand names of the merchandise I sell AND what people are querying. You also probably want to rank highly for queries like “buy Callaway drivers” or “where can I buy Callaway drivers?” The depth and breadth of queries you would want to rank for would likely be enormous depending on your industry.
If you don’t build your site or optimize it properly, though, your website will not show up on the first SERP, or Search Engine Results Page. Golf merchandise, like most major industries, is highly competitive and there are tons of competitors out there selling the same things you sell and trying to rank highly for the same terms you are. To make it onto the first SERP, you need strong SEO and it needs to be better than your competitors.
A lot of detail goes into what that means exactly, and I will cover some of it in a future post, but for now, what is the reward for a highly-ranked website within search engines? Some recent research from eMarketer suggests there are considerable rewards.
If your website ranks first – the very first result shown – for any given search engine query, 18% of the people will click on it. The percentage drops fairly dramatically after that until you get down to about 1% click-through in the #10 spot, which is typically the bottom of the first SERP. You can imagine what happens as you get to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pages of search engine results; likely, your website will never be found or be found by very few people.
Having your website land in the top five positions for a query, or better yet many queries, is the single factor that likely can impact your business, website traffic and customer prospecting the most. So, take a close look at your website and do a few searches in Google for terms you think are the most applicable to your business. Where does your site rank?
If you’re a small or medium-sized business which sells flowers and you’re nowhere to be found in the major search engines for a wide variety of search queries related to selling flowers, or buying roses, or special occasions, something is wrong. Look at what your competitors are doing in the world of search engine marketing. Figure out why they are ranked higher than you are. Have an expert look at your site to see what is inherently wrong with it.
Search engine marketing, as a whole, encompasses natural or organic search and paid search. For the former, SEO is what you need to focus on. The rewards for keeping search top of mind when thinking about your business or your website are considerable, so it is well worth your time to consider.