If you talk to any marketer today they will probably say at one point "you need SEO". Some of you may know what that means while many simply can't comprehend or don't want to take the time to understand. Well I'm here to let you off the hook and say don't worry about it as much as you probably need to.
Many who work in the industry would probably disagree with me so let me explain the meaning of this topic. But first, let's briefly describe what SEO is and what it entails.
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This is the practice of optimizing your website and other things to give better results in search engine rankings. So if you are a plumber in Seattle you want to show up on a search engine results page (SERP) if someone types in the keyword "Seattle Plumber". (Note: keyword can mean more than one word)
In the past we used to be able to influence these results by using tricks to fool search engines. We could put a lot of keywords on the website to match those search terms or create a lot of links from other websites to ours which is called backlinking. There was a lot of abuse by companies manipulating these results so in 2012 Google declared war and started penalizing websites that were found doing these things. Even today, there are still a lot of these types of companies but they are becoming fewer as the general population understands how things work today.
So what does work? Well the reality is you can't just do a few things to get good results. It takes a comprehensive plan from soup to nuts to get long lasting results that will improve over many years. Using Inbound Marketing principles we can break all the necessary steps down into easy to understand tasks that make sense to someone who's not an expert.
The other aspect of Inbound Marketing is how we show our return on investment (ROI) for our efforts. In the past we used to have ranking reports for individual keywords to show our results. Now we don't do that anymore for a few reasons. The first is those results are more volatle so results change more frequently and it's more difficult to maintain a position. The second and more important reason is those results don't mean much because that's not how people find your business anymore.
People like you and me want to control their own search results. If a website comes up frequently for Seattle Plumber we may go to the website but instead may have more detailed keywords. We might want to find a plumber who knows how to fix a kitchen sink. So we search for "fixing a kitchen sink Seattle". This is called long tail keywords because there are many words not just 2 or 3. To show up for these types of searches we create articles or posts about these kinds of topics. We get our posts shared through social media to amplify our reach. Those readers visit our site via search results via "Organic SEO".
Now that we know how to get traffic to our website with Organic SEO let's look at typical reports that show all of our traffic to our website. Here's an example of a client report that shows the number of visits and where they are coming from:
As you can see. Less that 25% of all traffic is coming from organic SEO. This is pretty typical across the board and I've rarely seen much over 30%.
So if you are planning your marketing budget how much should you put toward SEO? If it were me I'd put 25% so that I can cover the other aspects of how visitors are coming to the website. Here's what those are:
- Referrals - Links on other websites that users are clinking on (backlinks)
- Social Media - Links on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other channels that are a good fit for your business
- Email Marketing- You send emails with links back to your website
- Paid Search - Pay Per Click advertising. You put ads on search engine results pages that you pay when someone clicks on them
- Direct Traffic - Manually driving traffic to your website
If your efforts are balanced you'll get a much better ROI because these methods work together and compound on each other. This happens when you run campaigns and tie everything into one offer.
(I recently was contacted by another individual who liked this post and wrote an expansion on this topic for strategy. You might find this very helpful and interesting https://www.linkedin.com/