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Is search engine optimization still relevant? and should I invest in it?




YES - a simple answer to the question.  

As a digital marketing service provider, I find SEO to be one of the toughest services to sell to small businesses. Reason: you cannot see the results immediately. SEO is a long-term strategy to rank your website for relevant keywords. This makes small businesses reluctant to invest resources in SEO. 

What makes SEO so important? Let us dig deeper to understand the relevancy of SEO better.


What is SEO?  

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the process of optimizing your website (design and content) so that it becomes more attractive to the search engine. This is done in hopes that the search engine will display our website on top of the search engine result pages, sending more organic or unpaid traffic to our website. 


Why is SEO relevant to small businesses? 

In simplest terms, good SEO helps your website or blog stand out.

Google generates 1.1 million GB of internet traffic per minute. And this is just Google alone, not considering other search engines. It is so easy for your blog, or website to get 'lost' in this sea of information. This is where SEO helps.

To understand this concept better, let us take an example. Consider a website for a business that sells dog toys. While writing this article I googled the words 'pet toys NYC', and this is what I found. 



When I conduct a web search for pet toys in New York City, there are 2.2 million websites competing for being shown on the first page of the search engine result page for those keywords. And we are just talking about 1 search conducted on one search engine. 

So, what is the likelihood that a person who wants to buy dog toys in New York City will find your website? Realistically, extremely low. Unless, you are a brand name, the likelihood of your customers typing in your brand identity in their browser to visit your store is extremely low.

SEO helps your website become more attractive to the search engine for certain keywords. And as the website becomes more attractive, the likelihood of it being displayed on the first page of the search engine result page increases. To understand it better, let us break it down further. 

What happens when someone types in 'pet toys NYC' in the browser and hits enter? 

Once a searcher enters a search term or phrase in the browser and hits enter, the search bots or spiders go crawling different websites to find the ones that most relevant to the search query. When the spiders collect this information, they then rank the websites according to their relevancy. As the websites are ranked, they are put in order to be displayed on the search engine result page. 

Now coming back to our above example. The results that the search engine find are a close match to the search query are displayed on the top of the page. 


The topmost result that I found when I googled the words 'pet toys NYC' is shown above. 

Why is this website at the top of the search engine result page? There are a few reasons for this. One of them is that the content of this website is highly relevant to the search query (pet toys NYC). Optimizing a website through SEO makes it easy to find and crawl by a search engine. Another benefit is that since this website is at the top of the search result page, people are more likely to click on the link. A study by Backlinko showed that the  a link in position 1 gets 31.7%  and position 2 gets 24.7% of all clicks. Position 10 gets only 3.1% of the clicks. That is what it is very important that your website should feature as high as possible on the search engine result page.

Another benefit of SEO is that good SEO also improves user experience. This is because when a page is optimized, the relevant information is arranged in such a way that users can find what they need easily. 

When the design and the contents of a website are streamlined (arranged in an easy to find manner), the website becomes more searchable. The more searchable a website. the more likely it is to be displayed on the first page of the search engine result page. Which in turn increases the likelihood of it being 'found' and clicked on, leading to more traffic. 

Conclusion

With the ever changing algorithms by Google, SEO remains important to small businesses. SEO provides businesses with a long term strategy to improve their visibility. They gain more traffic and qualified leads with a well optimized website. Which eventually leads to higher business gains and revenues.

You can read my guest blog titled 'SEO guide for small businesses' here   

To get a free copy of your SEO audit report, click here.

You can read the three most popular blogs of 2020 here:

1. Email marketing tutorial for small businesses

2. Do I need to set up Google Analytics for my website? How will it help my business grow?

3. Google My Business: A tutorial for small businesses

Anandi is a digital consultant and works with small businesses to improve their web presence through the use of digital tools. To work with her, click here.

Image credit: Pexels

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