For most people, SEO is pretty far down on the food chain in terms of website development. You have to define your niche, choose a vertical, pick a domain name and hosting platform, and then hire your developers. If SEO does come into the picture, it’s far down the road after the “more important” action items are taken care of.
If that’s so, then why does Google insist that SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the first things you should focus on with a new website?
That’s because Google understand that SEO (and websites, in general) should focus first on delivering an optimal user experience, not just on the end product, and as a business owner, you cannot afford to ignore this crucial step either.
So how does SEO impact your brand, either negatively or positively?
SEO Connects Your Brand With Moments of Crisis
Mobile phones are more present now than ever, and whether it’s in an aisle at the grocery store, or at a car dealership haggling with a pushy salesperson, people look to their mobile devices to do quick research on whatever it is they’re buying.
Oftentimes, these people don’t have a lot of time to cycle through page after page of search results, and will choose the one at the top, subconsciously assuming that brand is an authority on the subject.
Can you imagine what would happen if your website was in the top few search results?
You guessed it: massive traffic. As a matter of fact, the drop off from just the first to the second search result can be catastrophic, so you can imagine what the traffic difference would be from the first to the second page.
SEO Increases Traffic, Which Increases Direct Sales
You might (or might not) be familiar with a term called “inbound marketing,” but what it is is a passive approach to drawing in client leads, and then converting those leads into sales.
For instance, you may have an article on your website that describes the pros and cons of consulting for your public speaking business that sees an average of 5,000 visits a month. Not bad.
But what would happen if you focused on high-ranking keywords that you could seamlessly implement into your article which would allow it to rank much higher in Google, now driving an additional 3,000 visits per month?
That’s a pretty significant increase: 60% to be exact. What if you could convert 10% of that additional traffic into direct sales? What would the margin be just on that alone?
If you don’t believe this, it might be good to talk to a search engine optimization expert. They can help you understand how the process works and what drives more traffic.
SEO Helps Communicate Your Brand’s Story
Storytelling may seem like a lost art to many entrepreneurs, who are obsessed with traffic and revenue, but if you are looking to build your brand, you might not find a tool that is more powerful than the ability to communicate who and what you are.
A powerful story is at the heart of several major businesses (think TOMs or Apple) and it helps people find a way to connect with them. And when people find a way to connect with the story of the brand, you turn those followers into raving fans.
How can SEO help with this? Simply put, a message cannot be told if there’s no audience, and keyword selection and passive marketing gets that message in front of more eyeballs. The more people see your story, the more people identify with it, and the more brand ambassadors you’ll have.
When you are thinking about your brand strategy, consider how you will tell your story to potential clients. Create a storyboard or hire a creative writer or interviewer, and allow someone trained in SEO to find relevant keywords (regular and long-tail) to imbed within the story.
Drive traffic to your story, and watch the perception of your brand grow.
SEO Helps Your Copywriting
At its core, SEO is all about connecting relevant online content to the people who want to consume it, and SEO plays a huge part in that.
It also helps find the words that the end customer wants to hear that will convert sales.
Copywriters generally follow an 80/20 approach to writing content. That is, 80% of people will read the headline copy only, while 20% will read the actual content itself.
What does that mean for you? If you want to communicate your message in a powerful way, focusing on what you put in the headline, and using high volume keywords to drive that traffic is vital to increasing conversions.
Long-tail keywords are some of the easiest to target, primarily because they’re not as expensive as single keywords. Long-tail keywords also have the added benefit of working perfectly with a headline, whether in the form of a question or common search phrase.
A little SEO research will help you find the relevant keywords that you need to connect your brand with the people who are searching for your content, which will increase direct sales.
SEO Makes Your Site Accessible
Let’s face it: the user experience is really all that matters when it comes to establishing your brand as the “go-to” in your niche. And if your UX (user experience) is lacking, people will not revisit your site. Your authority will diminish and your brand will diminish, until it eventually simply goes away.
Recent Google updates have turned towards emphasizing the role that mobile phones have in everyday life, so if your site is not optimized for mobile, it is strongly suggested that you consider doing so.
A recent study showed that 57% of users say they will not recommend your website if the mobile site is clunky, and 40% have turned to a competitor’s site simply because of a bad mobile user experience.
In layman’s terms, you are killing your brand by not focusing on a strong mobile user experience, and missing out on potentially thousands of dollars of revenue as a result.
What’s the solution?
Test your site using a tool like the one Google has to test your site’s responsiveness, and see if they consider your site user-friendly. If not, choose a more responsive design.
Focus on the speed that your page loads as well. Users expect every site they visit to load within two seconds; any more than that, and you’ve essentially lost them. Digital marketing plays heavily on impulse and relationship targeting, and if your site takes forever to load, the user will be put off by it.
How’s your navigation? Is your site easy to get around on for a first-time user? Chances are, you’re a little partial, so hiring an outside consultant to audit your site can help keep you honest.
Are you convinced? If SEO is something you’ve been putting off and putting off in favor of more “professional” techniques, I strongly urge you to refocus some of your efforts into creating a strong SEO presence. A little bit of effort on the front-end can greatly impact the perception that the world has of your brand, and the double effect of building high-authority page traffic is priceless.
Or neglect it entirely, and wonder why no one seems to know who you are.
The choice is yours.