Why is SEO crucial to your online success? [Video]

Posted by Justin Deaville
Learn SEO
Why is SEO crucial to your online success?

Don't underestimate the importance of SEO. Even in the era of disruptive Google algorithm updates it's still invaluable for getting traffic to your website. This ten minute video outlines six ways that SEO can boost your marketing. Just click to watch.



John Wanamaker ran one of the world’s first department stores, Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia. He was a marketing pioneer, who famously said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted: the trouble is I don't know which half.”

He was speaking at a time when it wasn’t possible to measure the effectiveness of your advertising. Nowadays, it’s easy to discover where your site’s visitors come from, how they found you, and how much they buy. It’s just one reason why search marketing has become so popular.

Here are six more reasons why search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your online success.

1. Search is growing

Many consumers’ first stop when looking for products, services or information is to search. The number of searches conducted online has quadrupled since 2007; Google handles hundreds of billions of searches every day.

search growth graph

More and more people are comfortable with buying online and are doing so in ever increasing numbers. As a result, the value of goods sold online continues to grow as this table from eMarketer.com shows:

ecommerce sales

These figures do not include some of the biggest segments online – travel, downloads and event tickets so the actual figure for online sales is even greater.

The conclusion is obvious: ecommerce offers substantial opportunities to nearly every business.

How can SEO help you?

It probably doesn’t need spelling out, but SEO can give you access to GROWTH, a rapidly expanding market of product buyers.

At a time when few markets are expanding, that’s an invaluable advantage.

First, here are five more reasons why SEO is important to your online success.

2. Search traffic is highly targeted

We might describe the traditional marketing that John Wanamaker knew as ‘push’ marketing.

It interrupts the consumer. It pushes content at potential customers.

SEO is different. Let’s call it “pull marketing” or “inbound marketing”. People searching on Google aren’t passive or otherwise busy: they are actively looking.

While offline advertising interrupts people, search allows you to sell what your customers want, when they want it.

And we know that searchers look in (at least) three ways. Searches can be:

  1. Navigational – The searcher might want to find another website or a specific page. So, you might see keywords such as Amazon, Ebay, Facebook or other brands.

  2. Informational – The searcher is looking for information. For example: Will it snow today? How tall is Tom Cruise? or What are the benefits of green tea?

  3. Transactional – The searcher wants to complete a task. They might want to buy something, or simply download a free e-book. Examples might be: Cheap Xbox or download Google Chrome

Which means you can target potential buyers at different stages in the buying process.

And when someone reaches your site, the quality of lead can be very high. There is a great chance that a search engine lead is going to be a solid new business lead. We might say the visitor has INTENT. Often, they’ll be looking for what you have.

You don’t get this intent with outdoor advertising, TV, radio or even direct mail.

How can SEO help you?

SEO provides more targeted lead generation than any previous marketing system.

3. SEO is marketing

Many people think that SEO is simply about getting the technical details of making your website search engine-friendly.

And, while that’s important, it overlooks the important role that your existing marketing can play in successful SEO.

Let’s look at an example of a badly run online marketing campaign because it’s illuminating.

A few years ago, just after Xmas, Lurpak ran a poster campaign for its butter, with the strapline: Leftovers, we call them ingredients.

The message was simple – use Lurpak and turn leftovers into special meals. A neat message delivered just at the time when people are wondering what to do with their turkey leftovers.

In many ways, it was a well-orchestrated campaign.


Lurpak hadn’t optimized its site for any of the keywords around its target niche.

So, Lurpak’s site didn’t rank on the first five pages for any of these keywords.

Which was a problem, because lots of Lurpak’s competitors did rank for those keywords. So, all those valuable advertising dollars were spent sending traffic to competitors’ websites.

So, here’s a really important point about search engines. It’s possible to create a fantastic website that’s packed with useful content. But, it will remain invisible to search engines unless you promote, market and sell it.

In other words: if no-one else links to your content, the search engines will ignore it, and your site won’t attract traffic.

Effective link building - which is the bedrock of successful SEO - can piggyback on your existing marketing efforts. You just need a little SEO know-how to make sure your efforts have the most impact.

How can SEO help you?

SEO piggybacks on the marketing you’re already doing. With a little online knowledge you can increase the profitability of your existing campaigns. As well as generating new traffic to your site.

4. SEO generates higher returns

The returns you’ll see from SEO can be much better than other forms of advertising and direct marketing.

I am a big fan of paid search advertising, particularly for new sites. But, reliance on pay per click (PPC) is rarely a successful long-term strategy for maximizing your profits. Advertising in Google’s search results can be costly (particularly when you’re setting up a new campaign). Yet clickthrough rates rarely match the premium price.

We know that when it comes to Google’s results, fewer than 10% of people click on the ads. As you might expect: searchers bypass the paid advertising.

More than 90% of searchers click on the organic listings.

organic listings

The challenge for advertisers is even greater on Facebook.

Facebook advertising

Even newer media, such as Twitter, suffer from poor clickthrough rates.

As do banner ads.

Yet, marketers continue to invest more in ads than in SEO. According to Forrester Research, in 2012, marketers spent $40bn on PPC ads, compared with $5bn on SEO.

Which is great. Because it means - if you know your SEO - there’s a fantastic opportunity available.

How can SEO help you?

SEO can give you a lower cost of acquisition than any other marketing medium, including banner ads, promoted Tweets, and Google AdWords. Which means you can save on your marketing budget and invest in innovation.

5. There’s less competition for local

A lot of small businesses are locally based. So, they rely on their customers to arrive by foot, car or bus.

For years, small businesses have found it difficult to compete with the buying power and marketing budgets of their larger competitors.

Yet, recent changes at Google have returned some power to local businesses. With its Venice update (in 2012) - a change to the way it ranks sites - Google introduced local results into the main organic listings.

Which means that local businesses no longer have to compete with rest of the nation to get to the top of the search results. So, whether you’re an electrician in Minnesota, a coffee shop in Manhattan, or a handyman in London, it’s now much easier for your local customers to find you. Provided you have a small understanding of SEO and are active in your online community.

How can SEO help you?

For local businesses, it just got much easier to get to the top of Google’s results, for a whole range of highly profitable keywords. Which means more traffic and more sales.

6. Search lets you track your leads

Finally, let’s return to that quote from John Wanamaker. It’s so good we’ll use it twice.

Regardless of how effective your advertising is, you’ll never be able to track the effectiveness of traditional media. But, with SEO, it’s possible to calculate an accurate return on investment.

Free tracking software such as Google Analytics can tell you exactly where your traffic and sales come from.

You’ll know the exact keywords your customers are using to get to your site.

And which keywords are generating the most sales.

Unlike with traditional media, once you discover a profitable keyword niche, it’s usually possible to attract more, similar traffic.

How can SEO help you?

No reasonable person would claim that SEO is a money-making machine. Far from it. Online success depends on some old-fashioned values: hard work, determination and great ideas.

But what’s new about SEO is that you needn’t waste your time talking to people who don’t want to listen.

Take a free 7-day trial of Wordtracker's Keywords tool

A subscription to Wordtracker's premium Keywords tool will help you to:

  • Generate thousands of relevant keywords to improve your organic and PPC search campaigns.
  • Optimize your website content by using the most popular keywords for your product and services.
  • Research online markets, find niche opportunities and exploit them before your competitors.