SEO is a concept that is still new for many but nowadays this tri-letter acronym is thrown around quite often. SEO has become an indispensable part of the e-commerce and online marketing lingo - and for a good reason; it yields numerous benefits for an online business.
In this article, we will begin with the basics of SEO and discuss the different ways in which SEO can help your online business grow:
SEO has Transformed the Business Landscape
From building brand credibility to doubling (or even quadrupling) online sales, from increasing site traffic and readership to boosting customer engagement, SEO (if done right) can do a lot for an e-commerce platform.
Today’s hyper-competitive business environment has necessitated a strong online presence. Businesses that are unable to harness the power of the internet and social media cannot succeed. That is why SEO is deemed an essential staple for businesses.
In order to appreciate the value SEO offers, we need to understand what exactly SEO is first. Let’s begin with the basics!
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation or SEO is the process of optimising your website content like keywords, visuals, videos, and text to generate organic traffic from SERP or search engine result page.
Organic traffic is basically unpaid traffic that visits your website after finding it on a search engine such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo. Unlike paid traffic, which is pulled to your website through paid advertisements, organic traffic is not referred to your webpages by any other site.
Simply put, SEO is a process that involves altering your webpage content and website design to ensure that your website is ranked well by search engines. Once your website is considered attractive and relevant by a search engine, it is likely to display it as a top result on the search engine results page.
The search engine result page position means the world to online businesses. Why is it so important? Well, according to research, websites on the first SERP attract as much as 95% of organic traffic. That leaves behind only 5% traffic for the remaining pages.
Even the first SERP is quite a battlefield. According to another study, over 67% of total clicks go to the first five domains listed on the first search engine result page. The rest of the 33% traffic is shared amongst other websites listed on the first SERP.
A vast majority of people pick the first few listings on the results page because they’ve either found what they were seeking, they don’t feel like scrolling more, they’ve got a limited amount of time or a combination of the three.
The chart below demonstrates the relationship between SERP position and click-through-rate (CTR):
As you can see, the CTR drops drastically after the first five SERP positions and hits a complete slump by the ninth position. From this graph, we can easily infer that SERP rankings and CTR are directly proportional, meaning the higher your organic rankings, the higher your CTR.
Relevance to Online Businesses
If you run an online business, your goal is to boost the click-through rate of your website which, in this case, is the proportion of visitors who access your website by clicking on your listing.
The underlying maxim here is that your chance of landing a sale (or your conversion rate) increases as the number of people visiting your website (or CTR) increases.
Conversion rate is simply the number of people who take the desired action after landing on your webpages. The desired action, in the case of online businesses, is usually purchases.
Let’s break this process down and make it simpler with an example:
Suppose an internet user is looking for a product. Maybe, they have a job interview next week and they just realised they do not have formal shoes for the occasion.
The first thing they will do is look up formal shoes on Google. The SERP would look something like this: Out of about 147,000,000 results, their attention would automatically go to the first four or five results and they would visit one of the higher-ranked websites to check out the available options. If our job aspirant finds the right shoe for themselves on the first result they clicked through and orders them right away, they have converted. If not, they would visit other listings one by one.
If you are a shoemaker, you would want to drive conversions and make sales. One of the best ways to do that is by increasing the CTR of your website. The CTR increases, by default, if your shoe-making business is listed high up on the SERP i.e more visible and the only way to get your pages to rank higher is through SEO.
Therefore, if your website is ranked on the second or third SERP but your competitors’ enterprise is one of the top search results on the first SERP, you are losing a lot of your potential buyers to competition, which can prove fatal for your online shoe business.
How Do Search Engines Work?
In order to develop a comprehensive understanding of SEO, we need to know how search engines operate in the first place. Search engines want to be efficient and that means pairing internet users up with relevant and quality content.
The power of search engines cannot be underestimated. There are more than 2 billion internet users all over the world and up to 90% of all web traffic is generated or driven by search engines. With up to 40,000 searches happening every second and 3.5 billion searches happening daily, search engines provide numerous opportunities to online businesses.
Search engines do not just play the passive role of linking users up with relevant domains. They also facilitate and influence purchase decisions. According to a study, up to 81 % of people conduct preliminary research on search engines before making a big purchase. Over 64% of users also reported that they rely on search engine results to decide if they are going to buy a good/service or not.
Search engines are immensely powerful but only if you learn to harness their power. The process is straightforward; an internet user enters a query or a bunch of keywords in the search bar and the search engine pairs their query up with relevant results. From the SERP, the user is directed to a website and if they like what they find there, they might make a purchase.
But how exactly do search engines deliver quality results? They perform the following activities:
Crawling is a process that involves retrieving all the webpages linked to a single website. A software called a crawler, or a spider usually performs this task.
Indexing involves generating an index for all the retrieved webpages and keeping them in a large database from where they can be fetched for later use. During indexing, the search engine identifies words, phrases, and keywords that best explain that page and then assign those webpages to certain keywords.
Processing occurs after a search engine gets a search request. The search engine then draws a comparison between the search string mentioned in the search query with the database indexed pages.
This is the last step. The search engine will get the best-matched results and display them on the browser.
What Can SEO Do for Your Online Business?
Now that we have understood how search engines function, let’s take a look at how a good SEO strategy can help your online business flourish:
Organic Search and Website Traffic
Organic search plays a vital role in online businesses. It is the primary source of website traffic and most potential customers land on your website as a result of organic search. Google, the most popular of search engines, draws almost 1 billion people every day and most searches start with Google.
So, ranking well on Google opens up a window of opportunity for your business and that is why the SEO industry today is worth over $65 billion. SEO also pulls in quality traffic which is more likely to convert. That is because search engines are directed towards solving problems for people.
SEO Boosts Search Engine Rankings
This one is easy to understand. All SEO tactics and strategies are directed towards improving your rankings on search engines. As we have already mentioned, pages that are listed on the first SERP receive a significant amount of traffic and are more likely to be accessed by most visitors.
In a way, boosted search engine rankings work better than other marketing strategies such as advertisements. Search engine optimisation is all about understanding what your customers are looking for and then catering to their needs.
SEO Improves Conversion Rate
Herein lies the difference between customers seeking you out and you seeking customers out. If you have a winning SEO strategy in place, you are attracting your targeted segment that is also looking for the goods or services your e-commerce platform has to offer. Basically, your target audience will be aware of you if you have higher visibility and you achieve high visibility by landing high on the SERPs.
In short, it is the perfect match! According to studies, a well-planned SEO strategy can drive up your conversion rate by a whopping 14.6 %! Take a moment to compare this to outbound leads which only drive up your conversion rate by a chancy 1.7%.
Why is there such a big difference? Mainly because internet users search for things online with a distinct motive. They know what they are looking for and they rely on search engines and reviews to make the purchase decision. Your business ranking high also serves as a form of affirmation; you are vetted by the search engine and hence, a reliable seller.
Once your potential buyer visits your website and finds the content engaging (an integral part of SEO strategy) and your offerings good enough, they are more likely to contact you and seal the deal with you!
SEO Increases CTR
SEO and click-through rates have an interesting relationship. If your SEO is working out, your CTR is going to increase. More people seeing your domain listed against their search queries means that more people will be clicking at it.
However, the inverse is also true. If your CTR is markedly high, you are more likely to rank higher up on the search engine result page.
The exact way you compute CTR is by diving the number of people clicking at your webpages by the number of people your domain reached. This means that there are other factors at play too, apart from SEO, for instance, the quality of your products or the relevance of your marketing pitch and SEO works in conjunction with product quality and design.
In short, SEO can draw people to you, but you also have to ensure that you are offering major value to your customers to keep them engaged and get them to click through.
Better User Experience
User experience is an integral part of any SEO strategy. User experience or UX involves developing a holistic understanding of customers.
UX begins with simple questions; what does the target audience want or need? What do they value? What are their abilities and limitations? User experience also factors in business goals and objectives to promote practices focused on improving the user’s perception of and interaction with your offerings.
Providing your website visitors with relevant information, supplementary photos or videos, simple, navigable webpages that load quickly and user-friendly mobile websites are some of the practices that can improve user experience and, by extension, your search engine rankings.
Search engines like Google can now gauge whether a user’s experience on your website has been favourable or unfavourable. It is important that users who access your website are efficiently able to find a solution that works for them.
Google, the most popular search engine in the world, is constantly updating its layout to facilitate users in finding practical solutions and quick answers. Its focus on improved user experience is evident from its current strategy; type in a question and you will find that Google will pluck content from a website and display it as an answer to your query.
A good SEO strategy weighs in all these factors and focuses on maximising user experience. When more people are able to find answers and solutions on your webpages, the performance, as well as the ranking of your website, goes up by default.
SEO Improves Sales Volume
Be it online sales or offline ones, a strategic SEO campaign can significantly increase the number of deals your business seals on an average workday. SEO boosts online sales in a pretty straightforward manner; better rankings mean greater visibility and more traffic volume.
The quality of organic traffic an effective SEO strategy draws is also important here. Remember, you are optimising your website against relevant keywords and search queries. That increases your chances of getting targeted traffic which is already looking for your products or services. This can boost the volume of your online sales.
SEO, particularly local SEO which allows businesses to optimise their websites for a particular geographic location, can drive up your sales phenomenally. Local SEO strategies make it easier for people in a certain locality to look for businesses nearby.
SEO can also help drive offline sales. As we stated, users often use search engines to conduct a background search before purchases. According to research, up to 97% look up goods and services online before buying them. Another study builds on these findings to conclude that 4 out of 5 people make use of search engines to find local information.
These findings indicate that most users are likely to conduct pre-purchase research and the most popular medium for that is Google. Customers tend to visit local shops after their initial online research. This means that the online visibility SEO grants your business also helps draw interested customers to your physical outlet. If you are getting a targeted audience right at your doorstep, your chances of landing an offline sale also go up.
SEO Increases Your Site’s Credibility
Search engine rankings serve as a signal that you are an authentic and popular seller who can be trusted. If you are ranking high on the SERP, users will surmise that you are one of the top sellers in the industry and you are in business. Thus, they are more likely to consider your brand a credible one.
Conversely, ranking low on the SERP will not just decrease your traffic but also imply that you are starting anew or not that popular a seller. They might even think that you are not credible or trustworthy enough and that is a huge put-off, especially if you sell your offerings online.
SEO Boosts Brand Awareness and Brand Value
Brand awareness is a metric to measure your brand’s popularity. Brand awareness is the extent to which your target market recognises your brand. Factors such as whether your potential customers are aware and familiar with your products or services also contribute to brand awareness.
SEO puts your brand out there; if it's ranking well, more people are likely to click on your domain and that is a big plus when it comes to brand awareness. Building brand awareness is important if you want to convince people to buy from your business in the future.
Your brand value is also important if you want to increase your sales. Brand value is all about establishing your business. The good news is that SEO can also help you develop your brand value in a more cost-effective manner compared to traditional marketing strategies such as paid ads. Instead of investing a fortune on paid marketing, you can increase your brand’s visibility organically and build on your business’s reputation.
SEO is Better Than Paid Advertising
According to research-based statistics, organic SEO listings get more clicks than paid advertising techniques like pay-per-click internet marketing model.
Paid advertising is a ‘push’ technique while SEO is a ‘pull’ technique. While most users are not interested in SEO ads and are more likely to ignore or skip them altogether, they do put their trust in Google’s algorithms. Besides, as mentioned earlier, most of the SEO traffic comprises of people looking for answers to very specific problems.
Another point of comparison is a financial investment. Sustained PPC campaigns yield returns if you continue spending exorbitant sums of money on them. Local SEO services, on the other hand, cost less and are more effective at attracting visitors.
SEO Helps You Compete
Another reason e-commerce SEO has become a necessity for an online business is that everyone is doing it and you will be majorly missing out on a big slice of your target audience if you do not.
Ignoring SEO is simply not possible anymore in the cutthroat and competitive e-commerce landscape. If an online business does not invest in SEO, it will soon be wiped out by those of its competitors that are leveraging SEO strategies to help their business grow.
According to a recent study, up to 61% of marketers acknowledged that optimising their websites according to SEO guidelines was among their top priorities. SEO is crucial for your business if you want to survive in a competitive environment.
SEO Helps Small Businesses
Search engine optimisation is promising for small businesses. Conventional marketing techniques such as advertisements and PPC campaigns require a major cut of the budget and with bigger companies willing to spend millions of Pounds on these methods, small companies with budget constraints stand no chance.
Enter SEO! As a small business, you cannot outspend larger corporations in AdWords but you can definitely implement an effective SEO strategy and rank higher than the big players on the SERPs. Therefore, SEO presents a window of opportunity for smaller businesses.
SEO Results Are Measurable
In order to see whether an implemented campaign has been successful, you require quantifiable data. One of the best things about SEO is that its results can be measured and tracked. SEO campaigns can be monitored easily, and that is great. It means that you can alter your SEO campaign accordingly.
Thanks to complete analytics, you can review SEO results closely. SEO analysis can be performed by an SEO company or even you, with a little bit of SEO training. You can measure your conversions, source of conversions, overall traffic your website is receiving easily.
With SEO, you can also keep an eye on your search engine rankings and demographic data of users who engaged with your website. If you have access to the right tools and expertise, you can even check which keywords are more relevant and generating the best results for you.
Access to so much quantified data is awesome; it can help you tailor your strategies, identify new segments you can tap into and even formulate marketing strategies to target your potential customers.
SEO is Incredibly Cost-Effective
We cannot stress this point enough. SEO is not just more effective than paid marketing methods but also relatively inexpensive. According to The Search Engine Journal, about 40 percent of revenue is generated by organic traffic. Not just that but compared to outbound leads, inbound lead generation methods like SEO can reduce the cost associated with lead generation by 61 %.
Optimising your website can reduce the amount of money you spend on paid advertising. The average cost per click across industries is about $2.32 but you would not need PPC or even paid advertisements if your website holds a top ranking on the SERPs.
The core activities involved in SEO include keyword optimisation, web design, and content generation. These activities do not cost a lot compared to outbound lead generation methods like cold calling, client visits, and direct selling.
SEO is a Great PR Strategy
The processes involved in SEO are closely linked with PR. In order to rank well, your website needs good backlinks, which are links from other websites that route users to your webpages. More backlinks make your website relevant and draw traffic to it from elsewhere.
Getting good backlinks requires publicity and outreach. Therefore, to implement a great SEO strategy, you or your SEO expert will be frequently reaching out to other businesses. So, having a foolproof SEO strategy in place involves PR and PR can help your online business immensely.
SEO Will Boost Your Social Media Presence
The traffic generated by organic search is not just for your website. In fact, your social media pages can also benefit from it. SEO can up the number of your social media followers and divert some of the traffic from your website to your pages.
By the time you join the top listings on SERP, you are super visible. More people are aware of your brand and your website is receiving thousands of visitors per day. Some of those visitors might click on the social media icons on your website and follow you on social media too.
SEO Will Promote Your Email Newsletter
Over time, a sustained and efficient SEO campaign can help you promote your newsletter subscribers. As your rankings go up because of good SEO practices, you can expect the number of your newsletter subscribers to rise as well.
This happens because, after SEO, your website receives an influx of organic traffic. Once your website becomes popular, a portion of your regular visitors would want to hear about what your business can offer regularly. If you want more email newsletter subscribers, you can incentivise your visitors for subscribing.
SEO Drives Up Blog Traffic
Blogging is an important part of SEO and if you are creating relevant and informative content, you are bound to attract readers. But did you know that SEO can also boost your blog traffic?
If you have implemented SEO properly and secured top rankings on the SERP, you are signaling to your readers that you are an authentic website with information that can be trusted.
If your website ranks high on SERP, your blog rankings will go up too, which means that your blog will be easier to find on a search engine. If you want to capitalise on this to the fullest, promoting your blog on your website is a good move.
SEO Increases Your Website’s Speed
SEO is focused on improving user experience and that includes website speed as well. Most users are short on time and they wait for a webpage to load for approximately 2 seconds and then move on to another page.
Low site speed can adversely impact your business. According to research, a 2 second load time delay can cost you almost 4.3% of your sales? Website speed is also related to customer satisfaction, which can experience a sharp drop if it takes too long for your website to load.
That is why only those websites that have a low loading time make it to the top of the SERP page. SEO focuses not only on content and keywords but also web design. Optimising your website to load sooner works to your advantage.
SEO Increases Offline Purchases
A targeted SEO campaign, especially local SEO strategy, can also drive up your offline sales because shoppers tend to do their background research online. According to a study, almost 81% of shoppers look up their options online before making a purchase.
Top SEO rankings can improve your business’s visibility, vouch for its credibility and facilitate your buyers in finding you. Local listings really help connect local buyers with businesses. So over time, SEO will not just increase your online sales but also contribute to in-store traffic.
SEO Is a Long-Term Marketing Strategy
SEO is a long-term and long-lasting marketing strategy. It takes about 6-12 months for an effective SEO campaign to yield results but once you are ranked high, it would also take as much time for your position on the SERP to drop.
The only reason your top listing would go down is if your competitors implement an updated strategy or Google alters its algorithms. This risk can be averted by updating your SEO strategy periodically.
SEO allows for integrated marketing
SEO is a part of online marketing. In fact, all your online marketing strategies already in place can help with SEO and can be helped with SEO too.
A holistic SEO strategy benefits from and makes uses of online marketing techniques such as blogging, emails, social media marketing, content marketing, web design, and online advertisements.
SEO Fetches You Business Referrals
A good SEO strategy makes your business domain more visible for not just your customers but also other businesses. Some of these businesses might be complementary businesses that can provide you with referrals.
Businesses that are not competing with you but provide similar services might refer their clients to your enterprise for related services after reviewing your website, and that’s a good thing especially when 65% of new business is earned through referrals.
SEO Creates Long Lasting Results
Granted that implementing SEO strategies is a time-consuming process but at the same time, SEO creates results that last long. Once you secure that top ranking, chances are that you would stay there for months, sometimes even years to come.
Unlike the rest of marketing strategies that are time-bound like cold calling, emails or pamphleteering, SEO results are not time-constrained. In fact, SEO results last long and continue pulling traffic to your website.
SEO Strategies are Updated Often
SEO helps you gauge the cyber-environment and remain updated with the newest changes in the field. SEO strategies, once implemented, need to be closely monitored and altered to yield sustainable results.
Google is famous for introducing thousands of updates per year. If your website has been ranked high by Google, you need to put an effort into retaining your position on the SERP.
A prerequisite for this is that you remain updated about Google algorithms and keep on researching them so you can continue outshining your competitors and profiting from increased traffic.
In a way, technical SEO guidelines keep you on your toes and help you remain updated about various improvements made by Google.
SEO Offers New Opportunities
A winning SEO strategy can help you scale up your business and unlock numerous growth opportunities. The best SEO specialists try to create an SEO strategy while keeping in mind core brand elements. Not only does SEO increase brand awareness but it also opens new avenues for your business.
SEO Can Help with Recruitment
SEO strategies are not just good for revenue generation, they can even help you sidestep hefty recruitment costs.
People who are looking for employment opportunities often search for them on Google first. If you use the right mix of keywords, you can optimise your website for the vacancies you are recruiting for. A successful SEO strategy would rank your business against your targeted keywords and if those keywords pertain to a vacancy, you can easily publicise the post and attract new talent.
SEO Improves Customer Engagement
SEO strategies focus on concepts such as user experience, design layout and overall interactivity of your website. These concepts are central to customer engagement; if a user finds it easy to browse for relevant information or products on your website, they are more likely to make a purchase.
SEO allows for active customer engagement by focusing on the listed aspects and improving the overall experience of potential buyers on your e-commerce platform.
Need Help with SEO?
Liftrank Media Inc is a digital marketing agency that specialises in all aspects of search engine optimisation including content generation, web design, backlinking and more. If you require local SEO services or have any questions about optimisation, feel free to contact our SEO specialists by ringing us on +44 7711100099.