Marketing executives and senior marketers increasingly agree that organic search traffic is a critical component of any successful marketing strategy, especially as they become more aware of the impact SEO services can have on their end results.
finds that paid and organic search traffic generates “65% of website traffic and as much as 67% of website revenue on a last-click basis.”
However, it is easy to simplify too much and the effect of SEO varies across industry and geography. And as we delve into which devices consumers are using throughout the buying journey, or user habits among different demographic groups, the importance of SEO in the overall digital strategy may shift again.
Marketers must also be aware that what has worked for one company may not generate the same outcome for another. As we know, Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving, as are the capabilities of your competitors .
So what are the 7 critical things that marketing executives need to know about SEO?
1. The results can take time
Whether you’re building your site authority using a long-term content campaign or waiting for Google to crawl your new SEO-friendly site, it takes time for search engines to detect, analyze and index changes. This also affects the time it takes to see effects on traffic, conversions and revenue .
In some cases, improvements can take months or years to take effect . Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to track ranking improvements or traffic increases to specific changes that you or the team have made.
Here, marketing executives do their best to accept that SEO is a long-term strategy – especially for websites that are just getting started or need to improve their technical and content health after years of SEO atrophy.
2. SEO is an ongoing process
You may have already heard it said: SEO is not a “one and done” solution . It is something that requires continuous refinement and monitoring.
This also applies to well-optimized websites, it happens that they get worse results when Google’s algorithms continue to become smarter, user behaviors change or as a consequence of global events like what we saw with COVID-19. Another common reason is that competitors’ strategies improve.
Only a proactive approach, with good content and UX, that delivers value for users wins in the long run.
3. SEO is constantly evolving
SEO is constantly changing and can sometimes be unpredictable.
Some companies may get worse rankings as a result of an update in Google’s algorithm while others benefit from the same change. Marketing managers must once again try to see SEO as a long-term investment and act accordingly rather than fall back on reactive decision-making. If the overall trend is positive, it works.
Of course, not all changes are due to algorithm updates. User demand can go up or down for all sorts of reasons, from seasonal changes to global pandemics.
Behavior can also change when devices and technology change – such as smartphones and voice search. Your competitors’ activities will also affect search engine results, so keep an eye on them.
4. SEO benefits other marketing channels
SEO can affect other digital marketing channels .
Better website design with SEO in mind can enhance the user experience for visitors who have landed on the site from other sources. Google has its methods and metrics for judging and evaluating the user experience just like your users, regardless of their path to the site.
Similarly, keyword analysis performed for SEO and content marketing purposes can help with overall messages, be used to better understand users’ intentions, and strengthen the keyword mix in other areas such as paid search ads.
5. Focus on the measurement values that matter most
There are many metrics that can demonstrate ROI from SEO . Some – such as conversions, traffic, revenue, average order values - are more noticeable than others such as brand / product awareness or visibility.
Everyone has their place. But some are more useful than others.
For example, traffic is increasingly seen as a vague measure. We all want to see more visitors to our sites, but if they do not engage in the content or make a purchase, what value do these users provide in the end? It is more beneficial to track things like conversions from organic traffic, bounce rate and time spent on the site.
Other useful metrics can, for example, compare repeat visitors with new visitors who find your site through Google. Looking at which pages turn out to be most popular among different segments can help you figure out where to best focus your keyword strategy based on audience.
It can be directly detrimental to spend too much time focusing on metrics such as search volume and competition, as they do not directly contribute to the success of individual websites and the number of conversions.
Paying attention to keywords that actively drive visitors to your site instead helps ensure that the content is targeted to a specific user intent or persona . Keep in mind that niche and long tail keywords may have lower volume and less competition, but together they can drive more conversions.
6. Good SEO is not just about growth
Much of digital marketing focuses on growth and upscaling. In competitive industries, a good SEO campaign can be as much about maintaining a level of visibility or authority in a vertical as an attempt to increase rankings across a larger number of keywords.
Senior marketers often assume that the ability of a search engine consultant is best measured by the percentage they increase in website traffic. However, as we mentioned earlier, increasing traffic at the expense of higher conversions from less competitive phrases is not always the best way to use business resources as it can result in a negative return on investment overall.
In the case of established websites that already have a presence in Google, maintenance and prevention activities against traffic loss are just as important (perhaps even more important) and require regular work and monitoring.
7. There are many misconceptions about SEO
Visibility in search engines is important. But the value it provides compared to other marketing channels depends on the industry you operate in, the consumers you are trying to engage with and the competitors in your niche.
SEO is a marathon , not a sprint .
Implementations and monitoring must proceed to maintain and improve results.
Good analysis is the backbone of a good SEO campaign. A good understanding of data, in addition to vague measures, is the key, and a focus on what users do is at least as important
This means that first place for a keyword does not necessarily mean that you have the best website or that the SEO work is successful. In other words, it’s not about where the site ranks or for what. It’s about what it actually provides.
Marketing executives need to ask questions such as: What are the conversion rates for key phrases? Is the increased traffic from new or returning users? What are the average order values and behavioral interaction measures in place per user segment?
Getting to the bottom of these questions is often much more insightful and valuable than increasing traffic and keyword positions.
One last point
Perhaps the most important takeaway to remember is that SEO works best when combined with other digital marketing strategies.
Consumers increasingly want consistency between channels, there must also be valuable and authentic user experiences. The best SEO campaigns need to be evaluated along with the overall multi-channel strategy in mind, and ultimately with the user – not Google – as a priority.