SEO is defined as the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Generally speaking, sites that rank on the first page of Google (or other search engines) get the bulk of the clicks – as many as 80-90% of the organic clicks. So if your site doesn’t rank well, or doesn’t rank at all, you’re missing out on customers.
You may also rank organically for your brand name, so you’ll appear in search results when people search for your brand – IF people are searching for your brand. More on that in a bit. But if you don’t show up for the other hundreds or thousands of non-branded keyphrase searches relevant to your industry, you’re missing a huge opportunity to get on the consideration list of customers earlier in the sales funnel, when prospects are in research mode.
And when SEO is done properly and consistently over time, you’ll be investing in the “free” clicks from organic search – meaning that your website does the advertising for you by showing up in the search engines.
“But SEO costs money,” you may be thinking. “How does it make me money? Won’t people just type in my website name and find me anyway?”
If you’re Amazon.com, yes. If you’re most other sites, no. Let’s think about how most websites get their traffic.
Your website might appear on all your company’s printed materials. So anyone who’s come in contact with these materials theoretically has your web address. For them to actually get to your site, though, they need to (a) have the materials handy when they’re by a computer and (b) correctly type your URL into their browser’s address bar. And these folks are probably already customers, anyway.
Perhaps you use your company’s URL in TV and radio advertising. That’s great, but unless your prospects have a computer handy when they see your ad, they need to remember that URL (and your company & message in general) when it comes time for them to seek you out online.
Or maybe you’re ahead of the curve and are using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to drive traffic and sales. PPC is great – I’ll be the first one to say that. On the other hand, you pay for every visitor who clicks on your ads.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “OK, either I’ll get very little traffic, or I have to pay for it.” That’s where SEO comes in. Let’s look at an example.
Say you’re getting 1,000 visits per week, and 2% of those visitors convert to a sale. Your average sale is $50. Let’s also say that relevant high-volume keyphrases in your industry get a total of 500,000 searches per week, but your website doesn’t rank organically for any of those high-volume keyphrases. And let’s say that if you had a first-page ranking for those terms, you’d get clicks from 0.5% of the 500,000 searches.
That’s 2,500 incremental visitors per week.
Taking the analogy further, let’s assume 2% of the 2,500 visitors convert to a sale.
That’s 50 incremental sales per week.
At $50 a pop. You just grossed an additional $2,500 per week from free traffic. That’s $130,000 in incremental sales per year. Not bad for a little SEO.