Written by Michael Buzinski

You may be surprised to learn that search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to generate ROI for your business. Organic search marketing provides a higher return on investment than any other type of online marketing. That’s why it’s so important to invest in SEO if you want your business to grow. Let’s discuss the importance of SEO, why ignoring it costs you money, and some first steps to getting started with search engine optimization.

Let’s start with, “What is SEO”?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are three islands in ‘Search Engine Land’: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and local SEO.

On-page SEO

Also known as On-site SEO refers to all optimization measures you take on your website. On-page optimization includes many ranking factors including:

  • Indexing a site map so search engines understand what the site is about.
  • Create a unique meta description tag for each page listing (meta tags).
  • Creating a meta description to describe the content of each page
  • Optimizing images for fast load speed.
  • Using external links to other sites that are relevant.
  • Having relevant content to target search terms with relevant keywords.

Two other major considerations that impact both search engine optimization and search results are the visitor bounce rate and website load speed. These are cans of worms we won’t dive into here. Google explains the topic well here.

Off-page SEO

These are measures you take outside of your web pages. Off-page factors tend to be more involved but can have a huge impact on your visibility on the search results page. Examples include content marketing, which involves creating high-quality content on other site owners’ sites, and link building, which is when site owners of other websites (relevant to yours) with high rankings link to your website.

Local SEO strategy

Local search optimization focuses on optimizing web pages and a company’s Google My Business (GMB) page for local consumer searches and most commonly affect Google Map visibility. There are SEO tools available to help with optimizing GMB like Dizyo Local that make it easier to achieve local SEO success.

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Implementing a successful SEO strategy is an effective way to increase website traffic and grow your business. According to a study by Ascend II, SEO work can generate up to three times more leads than Google Ads and even more compared to other digital marketing efforts.

So, why isn’t every business investing in SEO by doing SEO work themselves or hiring SEO experts? The main reason is that businesses don’t see the ROI that they expect from SEO or local SEO. However, this is largely due to the fact that many businesses don’t implement SEO correctly or hire cheap SEO agencies.

Search engine optimization is not a one-and-done process. SEO success requires an ongoing focus that requires time and effort. You can’t expect to rank #01 in the search results for any keywords overnight. It takes time and dedication on your part or hiring SEO experts to rank your website.

Impacts SEO has on your website traffic and bottom line.

Organic search now accounts for more than 50% of all internet traffic. That’s more than paid and social combined. Paid search drives 10% of site traffic, whereas social media only contributes five percent. This is because around 93% of online interactions and 68% of all customer journeys begin with a search query.

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Investing in SEO helps your website higher in SERPs, which increases your search engine visibility putting you in front of the 68% of people using search to find your product or service. And since people are more likely to click on links that appear at the top of SERPs, ranking high is essential for getting more website traffic. And if you are not getting that traffic, guess who is. That’s right, your competitors.

Let’s put this in perspective of dollars and cents. According to a recent study by SEM Geeks, organic traffic can contribute more than 40% of your company’s revenue. So if your annual revenue is $400,000 then $160,000 of it is coming from organic search engine traffic. Unless, you aren’t investing in SEO, which means your annual revenue could be much higher. Studies show businesses that invest in SEO see an average ROI of $14 for every dollar spent.

Which search engines should you optimize for?

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When it comes to search engine optimization, you don’t need to optimize for all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) at once. Each of the search engines has its own algorithm, so trying to appease all three at the same time dilutes your efforts. A singular focus will be a better use of your time and energy while producing the best ROI. So which one should you focus on?

Google search is the 800-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to search traffic. Google owns over 70% of the market, leaving the other search engines, Bing (4.5%) and Yahoo! (2,5%) in the dust. That 70% accounts for over one billion users on desktop and 400+ mobile users monthly.

How long does it take to get results from search engine optimization?

There is no definite answer to this question since search engines’ algorithms are constantly changing and evolving. What may have worked a few months ago might not work now. However, if you are following best SEO practices then it could take as little as 90 days to see initial organic search results and six months to see significant changes.

Your timeline will depend on other factors such as your industry, the competition for your most profitable keywords, and how well your website was built. Regardless of your situation, if you haven’t started, you need to, because SEO is a long play.

What about the other major search engines?

The wonderful thing about search engines is that they are all looking to deliver the same service; a positive user experience by delivering the best search results from the user’s search queries. Website owners who successfully navigate “Search Engine Land” and appease the Google algorithm get higher search rankings and better search results on the other search engines.

SEO traffic is great, but what about conversions?

A site visit from search results doesn’t guarantee the visitor buys anything. The majority of web page visitors from search engines never contact website owners. On the other hand, organic search traffic closes at a rate of 14.6% which is stellar compared to the 1.7% traditional marketing delivers. SEO traffic is the highest converting website traffic you can earn; with the organic social media’s 0.71% close rate lagging far behind.

The traffic source to your web page isn’t the only indicator of success. You still have to consider your website conversion rate and average close rate. If your conversion rate is less than 2.1% (2021 average across all industries) with at least 500 unique visitors per month, then look at increasing conversions. If your company closes less than 20% of qualified inbound calls or inquiries, focus on your sales process or look at the quality of prospects.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t start SEO until you get these key performance indicators (KPIs) above average. As mentioned before, SEO is a long play. Your best game plan could be to start with a hybrid approach to all three initiatives.

Though numbers don’t lie, there are still SEO nay-sayers.

Some business owners may still be hesitant to invest in SEO because they think it’s too difficult or because they don’t understand how search engines work. Others may think their website is already ranking high enough and don’t see the need to invest any further. But as we’ve shown, not investing in SEO can hurt your website traffic and your bottom line.

If you haven’t started, your competition is reaping the benefits. If you are crushing it, then your competition is gunning for you. So if you’re not yet investing in SEO, now is the time to start; and if you are currently investing in SEO, make sure you are doing everything possible to get the highest ROI and stay ahead of your competitors.

Okay, I get it. But how do I get started?

There are two ways to move forward with SEO success. The first path is to do it yourself and the second is to hire an SEO expert. First, let’s look at some key elements of getting starting on your own.

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Do SEO yourself.

Keyword research

Always start your SEO campaign with keyword research. All search engine algorithms rely on the keywords users type in their queries. It’s important that you choose relevant keywords for your product or service. You also want to choose terms that have enough monthly search volume to be profitable for you but that you can reasonably compete for against other websites.

The same keyword research you do for Google will work for other search engines. That’s because they use many of the same ranking factors as Google. How you rank for Google is likely how other search engines discover your site’s pages are worth ranking for as well.

One way to find these keywords is by using the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This tool shows how many people are searching for particular keywords each month, as well as the suggested bid price for each keyword phrase. Large monthly search volume is great, but keep an eye on the suggested bid price. The higher the price the higher the competition, thus the harder to rank for.

Looking at other sites you compete with is a great way to find profitable keywords you haven’t realized. There is an art to competitor keyword research. Search Engine Watch has a blog on competitor research that will help you get started.

Tracking your SEO progress

There’s a saying, “you can’t measure what you don’t track”. Reporting is crucial to a successful SEO campaign. Google has powerful tools that show how your website is performing. Three main tools to look at are Google Analytics (GA), Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

GA is a powerful analytical tool that shows you detailed performance metrics. GTM allows you to set up performance indicators like conversions. Google Search Console measures different metrics than GA and has reporting features. Bring all of these tools together with Google Data Studio to create a dashboard that quickly identifies your successes and reveals improvement opportunities.

On-page optimization

Once you identify target keywords and have a grasp on your performance, it’s time to tackle on-page optimization. First, look at your meta descriptions and meta tags, which tell search engines what to display in the small blurb that appears below your website listing on the SERP. This can help people decide if they want to visit your website or not.

Second, make sure the existing content on your web page uses the search terms you used in your keyword research. It is impossible to get search rankings without using these keywords. Ensure your content flows well and talks to your user’s pain or desire. Remember, you are building content that humans want to read and bots can decipher.

There are many other aspects of SEO basics that Search Engine Journal does a great job of covering in their blog on the topic along with a plethora of resources on Google.

Mobile responsive design

In March of 2021, Google released what it called mobile-first indexing. Google now looks at the version of your website designed for a mobile device before it looks at the desktop version when factoring in your search rankings. This means you need to ensure your mobile version includes all of the elements that your desktop version has.

You also want to make sure it loads very fast. Mobile-first indexing is easier to optimize for if you are using a content management system (CMS) to manage your website like WordPress since it automatically formats your desktop content for mobile devices.

Sitemaps and schema mark-ups

Website search results can vary widely depending on what Google knows about your website. That is why it’s important to submit a site map and schema mark-up. Sitemaps help visitors and search engines navigate your website. Schema mark-up is a language for search engines that lays out structured data about your website. It shows Google more about your content so it knows what you are writing about. SEO guru Neil Patel wrote a blog on how to create a schema mark-up.

Off-page optimization

Search results rely on more than just what is on your website. Google also looks at content on other sites. Google searches for high-quality content wherever it can find it. Content marketing is the practice of providing that content. It’s a concept of building valuable content for users to consume in an effort to build trust and authority. The trick is to first create content that people want to consume and then find other websites to host your content.

Link Building

Once you have found other websites to host your content, create links within that content that point back to your website. This is what’s called link building. Take care to stay away from creating spammy links. These are links on websites that don’t directly relate to your service or product or service or are full of other website owners’ links.

If you are lost on where to find backlink opportunities, start with trusted online news websites. Submit a press release with each of them. When they pick up your story, they will create at least one link to your website so readers can get more information about you.

Another link-building tactic involves optimizing local citations. A local citation is a mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number on the internet. These are mainly found in directories like Yelp, Yellowpages.com, etc. Be sure that every citation is exactly the same (as much as possible) and correct.

Local search engine optimization

Most small businesses rely on local consumers, so one of the biggest off-page factors in search traffic is Google Maps visibility. Ranking factors for Google Maps rely heavily on two things, Google My Business page, and Google reviews.

Google My Business (GMB)

GMB is a free website page Google provides for businesses to list all pertinent company information like address, phone number, website, list of services, location, and operating hours. You can upload photos, make weekly posts with company updates, create offers, and post upcoming events. Tools like Dizyo Local make optimizing your GMB page very simple.

Google Reviews

Within your GMB page resides Google reviews. Google reviews carry a lot of weight on search engine rankings and search engine marketing overall. It’s the core of what is called reputation management. Gathering Google reviews can be a tedious task. Luckily there are tools like Buzzrep that help organize and automate the process.

Social media sites

Social media doesn’t directly affect SEO. But the links you share on your social media sites create better internet exposure, which can help your SEO score.

Hire an expert to do SEO for you.

So you don’t want to explore the wonders of Search Engine Land on your own. Then it’s time to bring in a professional. When you are looking for an SEO expert, it is important to remember that not all firms are created equal.

A great SEO firm will:

  • Specialize in SEO with the experience and knowledge to help your business achieve the best results.
  • Adhere to Google’s guidelines using ‘white hat’ techniques so you don’t run the chance of being banned.
  • Have references and case studies from previous clients that show their capabilities and the results they have been able to achieve.
  • Clear keyword research methodology and a master of Google Analytics.
  • Clear understanding of how they will work with your existing content.
  • Provide a proposal with a detailed plan on how to improve your search ranking.

Choosing the right SEO firm can be a daunting task, but if you follow these tips, you will be able to find the perfect company for your business.

Time to take action.

So there you have it – the importance of SEO, why you should be investing, and ways to get started. The bottom line is that organic search engine marketing can provide a higher return on investment than almost any other type of online marketing. That’s why it’s so important to invest in SEO if you want your website traffic and your bottom line to increase. Don’t ignore your business any longer, invest in SEO!

About The Author:
search engine optimization expert Michael Buzinksi

Michael Buzinski, President & CMO of Buzzworthy Marketing, is a lifelong entrepreneur, digital marketing thought leader and best-selling author. Dubbed a “visionary marketer” by the American Marketing Association, Michael’s sole mission is to help entrepreneurs avoid the time drain and frustration of managing profitable digital marketing campaigns. He has simplified digital marketing success with The Rule of 26 and is on a mission to double the website revenue of service-centric businesses across America.