So you've got your website set up or are thinking of launching it and you've heard of this thing called search engine optimisation (SEO).
You're wondering what exactly it is and how relevant it is to your business. You know traffic is important and that more and more people are taking their search for information online. But all you have to do is build your website and people will come, right? Well, not quite.
What is SEO?
SEO is the active process of optimising a website in order to increase traffic directed to the site from search engines by improving on-site and off-site components.
Understanding SEO means familiarising yourself with the many unique elements that a search engine takes into consideration in deciding how sites should rank in its database.
Why is SEO important?
Search engines are where people are finding everything. More than two billion searches are performed on Google worldwide every day.
The majority of web traffic is driven by major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! In Australia, Google dominates an estimated 94% of all search traffic.
If the search engines can't find your site or if your content cannot be put into their databases (commonly known as the index), you are losing out on customers who are actually looking for services and products that you may have.
This becomes increasingly important as more and more people take their quest for information online.
To 'Google something' has become a synonym to finding stuff on the internet in today's culture and language. It's all about relevance.
Traditional marketing talks in terms of ‘push and pull’ marketing such as expensive billboards, newspaper ads, radio and television.
These channels are usually untargeted and hit-and-miss, making it hard to measure the true effectiveness of the campaign.
Search marketing allows businesses to target only users that are actually looking for your services and products.
When someone performs a search query on Google, which are the words that users type into the search box, the purpose of the search engine is to return the most relevant search results towards the intent of the user's search.
SEO positions you in front of those people who are looking specifically for a product or service that you have.
Traffic that comes from highly relevant search terms have shown to provide companies with strong leads, and subsequently revenue like no other marketing avenue.
A smart investment in SEO, whether through time or money, is known to produce an extraordinary return on investment compared to traditional marketing channels. This is because almost every metric can be tested and refined.
Traffic data and market size can be easily evaluated to ensure that you are only investing in SEO for the terms that actually have a large enough market of potential customers to pursue.
If you're not doing it, you can bet your competitors are! Businesses are beginning to realise how important it is to devote resources towards SEO.
While you are wondering whether it’s worth the time or money, your competitors are already playing the game and learning the tricks of the trade.
Due to the way Google determines a page's authority and importance, if you have SEO tightly integrated into your business strategy earlier on, you are going to have a clear advantage over your late blooming competitors.
OZHut's own investment in SEO is a major player in the growth we've seen in the last two years of our business. Today, more than 50% of our traffic comes through the results that SEO has generated in the organic search channel of the major search engines.
Of all our marketing channels, SEO has singlehandedly outperformed all other streams in terms of ROI.
The trend that we see with Google's latest changes is that micro businesses and start-ups are being given more opportunities to position themselves well.
The challenges faced by larger corporations is the siloing of its many divisions and functions from the 'SEO team'. With smaller companies, the ability to tightly integrate SEO in all areas of customer service, marketing and sales, even logistics, means that start-ups can put up a good fight in the online world of search.
In subsequent articles, we'll be going further in-depth into more technical aspects of SEO and hopefully empower you to carry out some solid SEO yourself, or at least learn to be more informed and wise in choosing SEO firms to partner with.
Wai Hong Fong is co-founder and chieftain at OZHut, a multi-niche online retailer that is passionate about truly serving people in the online space. In 2010, he was recognized as one of Australia's Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs by SmartCompany.
Wai Hong also blogs on his journey as an Entrepeneur, with specific interests in SEO, Online Retail and learning to build strong businesses that thrive and in turn help us grow healthy communities that cherish our families, lives and wellbeing.