It’s a familiar cry heard quite regularly from various marketers and businesses alike worldwide.
SEO is dead. Buried. Gone. A thing of the past.
In terms of justification, those sharing such proclamations typically state that SEO no longer represents a necessary investment. Instead, they believe those all-important marketing pennies should be invested elsewhere.
The thing is though, you only have to consider a few statistics to understand exactly how important SEO is. Somewhere in the region of 95% of all online activities begin with a search term of some kind. Not only this, but around 80% of all clicks are made exclusively on page one. All of which equates to billions of weekly clicks, which wouldn’t happen without the major search engines.
Realistically therefore, how can anyone dispute the importance of using strategic SEO to climb the rankings?
Falling Out of Favour
That’s the question we set out to answer recently, after coming across a report regarding SEO apparently falling out of favour with marketers in huge numbers. A new study by Clutch suggests that not only is the popularity of SEO on the decline among marketers in the United States, but the number of marketers investing in SEO has dropped below the 50% more.
All the way to 44%, more accurately. That’s just 44% of marketers investing any money whatsoever in any kind of SEO. A figure that’s difficult to comprehend, particularly when considering how 83% of those who took part in the study stated that their non-SEO strategies were paying dividends.
Among those who weren’t particularly enamoured with SEO, social media marketing was the single most popular channel with a score of 81%. E-mail marketing came in with an impressive 69%, while the use of a primary website scored 78%.
The key question being – what is it about SEO that’s driving marketers in entirely the wrong direction? As the world becomes increasingly reliant on the major search engines, why choose now to focus your efforts on alternative marketing methods?
As for the answer, chances are it’s a combination of two things:
- The slow turnaround of SEO
- General lack of knowledge and understanding
Rather than SEO having in any way diminished in terms of power, it’s simply not being used to its full potential by those choosing to ignore it.
SEO = Hard Work and Commitment
To be frank, the upshot of the report is actually relatively simple. Marketers in growing numbers are deciding SEO isn’t for them for the simple reason that they don’t understand it. Or in instances where they do understand it, they don’t like it.
One of the biggest mistakes made by marketers who are new to SEO is completely underestimating its complexity. Not only this, but also the time and effort it takes for SEO to deliver any results whatsoever. On paper, SEO is a relatively simple concept – determine what people are looking for and give it to them. In practice, it’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds.
SEO has never been particularly difficult to understand, but has always been extremely difficult to implement successfully. If anything, successful SEO is becoming more difficult by the day, forcing those who utilise it to continuously up their game and apply themselves. This alone being the kind of thing the already-busy marketer doesn’t look kindly upon.
In comparison with various other approaches to marketing, SEO can be difficult to predict, tricky to control and challenging to measure. Again, all the kinds of things many marketers would prefer to leave out of the equation. Not only this, but SEO is arduous, long-winded and about as sexy as unclogging a blocked drain. Social media, by contrast, being the opposite in every way.
All of which harks back to the initial question therefore – why bother? If it really is such a pain in the backside, why invest any time or effort in search whatsoever?
The short answer once again – because almost every web user on the face of the earth trusts the major search engines to guide their decisions. Appeal to the major search engines, appear prominently before 95% of the world’s online population. Fail to do so and you’re stuck with the remaining 5%.
Plus, it’s also worth reminding that somewhere in the region of 80% of people instinctively favour organic listings over all types of paid advertising. Or to put it another way, you can invest as much money as you like in a prominent banner in a prestigious location, but chances are you’d perform far better with a strong position in the SERP rankings.
Like It or Not, You Need It
The overriding point is therefore surprisingly simple. Irrespective of whether or not you like SEO, you need it in your life. It’s a little like the exercise you do to stay healthy and the fact that you regularly eat broccoli when you’d prefer to eat cheeseburgers. It’s not your preference, but you know you need it to build towards a cumulative result.
A key issue with SEO being the fact that it can take weeks, months or even longer for things to reach fruition. And just as is the case with all types of marketing, there are no specific guarantees. In the meantime therefore, you’re putting your faith and your future in the hands of someone you may have only met a short while ago.
So it’s hardly surprising that marketers these days don’t exactly love SEO. Truth is, the world’s love affair with SEO ended a while back. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean it is something you can afford to overlook. Even if it means eating your pride and putting your faith in a third-part agency, you stand to benefit from a strategic SEO campaign in multiple ways.
The five most obvious and important of which being the following:
1. More Traffic
First and foremost, the single biggest benefit of a successful SEO strategy is a significant and ongoing traffic boost. If you don’t currently appear prominently in the SERP rankings, you cannot and will not outperform your competitors. It’s important to remember that web users worldwide make immediate assumptions about websites and online businesses by way of their SERP positions. Those at the top clearly being more credible and generally ‘better’ than those further down. And as touched on in a bunch of previous posts, it’s worth remembering that at least 75% of people never look beyond the first page…ever.
2. Cost-Effective Growth
If looking to grow your audience and your business as a result, SEO can be surprisingly cost-effective. Make no mistake about it – an intensive and truly effective SEO strategy isn’t going to be provided and delivered free of charge. Chances are, you’ll be looking at a relatively heavy sum, if you’re planning on taking things seriously. Nevertheless, what you stand to gain in terms of an ongoing ROI really is on another level. Quick-fix marketing is great for providing exactly that – a fast though temporary boost to your performance and profitability. The difference with SEO being that if you get it right, you could be looking at strong and indefinite growth as a result.
3. Growing Relevance
Contrary to popular belief, the world’s reliance on search engines is only intensifying with time. This alone clearly communicating the importance of appearing prominently within the SERP rankings. Those who say SEO is dead and that the rankings no longer matter are clearly overlooking or ignoring a world of factual evidence. It’s neither a theory nor a contested assumption – we are all becoming more reliant on search engines than ever before. While this continues to be the case, the relevance of SEO will continue its acceleration.
4. Your Competitors Are Winning
Whatever line of work you’re currently in, you can rest assured your competitors are winning the race through strategic and effective SEO. Unless you are doing the business right at the top of the SERP rankings, you’re handing precious traffic and conversions to your closest rivals. One of the biggest misconceptions with SEO being that if you aren’t already up to speed, it’s too late to do anything about it. In reality, it’s never too late to take a closer look at what your competitors are doing and do it better. If you’re serious about taking the lead, you need SEO in your life.
5. An Improved User-Experience
Last up, it’s worth remembering that just about every signal considered by the major search engines these days is directly related to the user-experience. As far as the search engines are concerned, the only thing that matters is the provision of the best possible user-experience and the answers the respective user needs. Hence, to focus on effective SEO from a 2020 perspective is to also take your site’s user-experience to the next level. Rich and relevant content, regular posts to keep things fresh, dynamic navigation, fast loading times, a strong mixture of media – all the kinds of things that satisfy both the search engines and your target audience.
One last time therefore – SEO isn’t dead…it’s simply putting up the fight of its life.