What is SEO & Why is it Important?

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“I don’t exactly understand SEO, but I know I need it.” I can’t tell you how many potential and current clients I’ve heard this from. SEO, or search engine optimization, has become a critical part of any organization’s marketing strategy. But what IS it, anyway? And why does it matter? Let me break it down for you.

Let’s say you’re looking for a place to eat lunch. You type “Chinese restaurant” into Google, and a bunch of results pop up. You might see a big map at the top of your results with a list of Chinese restaurants near you, then a few search results on “best chinese restaurants” from Yelp or TripAdvisor. Halfway down the page, you’ll finally get to a few results that are the websites of Chinese restaurants in your area. 

As a user, where are you likely to look first? You’ll probably look at the handy Google map with a list of restaurants near you, with directions, website, and hours listed. You’re much less likely to scroll down to the list of Chinese restaurants’ individual websites and click through to find out their hours and location.

If you were the owner of a Chinese restaurant, then, where would you want to be? Wouldn’t you want to be the first restaurant at the very top under the big map, instead of a footnote halfway down the page? 

The answer is “of course!” SEO can help you achieve that. SEO is the practice of helping your website rank higher in search results and in special results (called SERP features) like the map in the example above. 

So that’s what SEO is. But why is it important? Here are just a few reasons.

 

Google searches = infinite opportunities

How many times a day do you Google something? The average person Googles 3-4 times per day, which totals to over 2 trillion Google searches per year. 

What does this mean for your organization? A lot of opportunities.

As a marketing channel, search allows you to be right there the minute your customer has a problem, providing them with a solution. The moment a potential customer wonders how to solve a problem, they’re likely to go to Google, in search of a product or service like yours. When they do, good SEO can enable your website to show up at the top of the page. Out of 2 trillion Google searches per year, there are almost infinite (or at least a lot!) of opportunities for you to appear in front of potential customers. 

 

SEO Helps You Target People at Every Stage of the Sales Funnel

Going back to our Chinese restaurant example, sometimes people search for the exact business they’re looking for, so they might search “Panda Express.” Other times, people aren’t sure quite which specific product or service they’re looking for and search for a category, so they might search “Chinese restaurant.” And still others really have no idea what type of product or service might meet their needs, so they might search “lunch.” 

No matter what stage of the sales process your potential customer is in, SEO can help you reach them. You can create content targeting your potential customer at each stage of the sales process, and with proper SEO optimization, appear in search results for potential customers in each of those stages.

 

Not Focusing on SEO Can Hand Leads to Your Competitors

Imagine you search for “Panda Express,” still hungry for lunch. What if Tokyo Joe’s popped up as the first search result instead of Panda Express? You might think, “Oh! I forgot about Tokyo Joe’s,” and check out their menu. You might even opt for Tokyo Joe’s instead after remembering that they have sushi and Panda Express does not.

Don’t let this be your business. If your website has poor SEO and customers are searching specifically for YOUR business, there’s a chance your website won’t appear at the top of search results, giving your competitors a chance to appeal to customers – YOUR customers! –  first. Not ensuring that your website has strong SEO is the same as handing a list of sales leads to your competitor. 

These are just a few reasons why your business should prioritize SEO. 

Interested in upping your SEO game? Contact me today.