Search engine optimization (SEO) has risen to become one of the most popular digital marketing strategies around. Business owners from all backgrounds, with a wide variety of intentions and goals, are tapping the power of SEO to rank higher in search engines like Google, and recommending the strategy to their partners, followers, and colleagues.
How is it that SEO has become such a popular strategy?
A Primer on SEO
Let’s start with a brief overview of SEO – including how it works and how business owners create a strategy from scratch. SEO is a series of techniques and habits that increase the likelihood of a website ranking high in search engine results pages (SERPs) for a given query. So if your company sells bicycles, you might try to get your pages to rank higher for terms and phrases like “bikes for sale,” often using a combination of onsite content, technical changes, and offsite links.
The end result is higher rankings, which in turn lead to greater brand visibility and traffic, and eventually, more revenue.
So why is this relatively simple strategy so powerful and so dominant in the digital marketing space?
The Ubiquity of Search
Part of SEO’s popularity stems from the sheer ubiquity of search. There are approximately 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, used to find local businesses, shop online, and gather general information on every topic you can imagine. Think about the influence of search on your own life. How often do you search for new information, products, or services online? If you’re like most people, probably many times throughout the day.
Despite this, business owners realize that 90.88 percent of webpages are practically invisible on Google search results. Why? Because most people searching for something will only look at the first page of results – and generally, only at the first few entries. If you want a chance of being found on search and capitalizing on the billions of searches that are conducted every day, you need the help of a strong SEO strategy.
The Low Barrier to Entry
SEO is also super approachable. You don’t need years of coding experience or a degree in marketing to make use of an SEO strategy. Thanks to online guides and other free sources of information, you can pick up the basics remarkably fast. Once you understand the theory and have a strategy in mind for your business, you’ll ultimately work on a strategy in three areas:
- Technical onsite work.
- Onsite content creation.
- Offsite link building.
And if you don’t want to do the work yourself, you can always recruit an SEO agency to help you out.
The High ROI
Another push factor for SEO is the demonstrably high return on investment (ROI). The ROI is high for two big reasons: low costs and high long-term potential return.
On the cost side, anyone can get started with SEO basics for free. But even if you’re working with a prestigious SEO agency, you’ll likely pay just a few thousand dollars per month for their services.
On the value side, the initial results from SEO tend to be minimal. It takes a long time to establish the web presence and authority necessary to build momentum. But once you have a strong link profile and lots of onsite content, you’ll rank highly for a wide variety of terms. From there, you’ll see a consistent flow of traffic to your site – and ample new revenue.
SEO’s Complementary Nature
SEO also plays well with other marketing strategies. It requires you to create content and share that content frequently, so strategies like content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing both benefit from SEO and contribute to it. This makes it easy to plan and execute a comprehensive, high-level digital marketing strategy.
The Alternative Paths for Competition
One of the few weaknesses of SEO is that it’s highly contested – you’ll have to outcompete many businesses like yours to attain visibility. However, there’s always an alternative path. You can optimize for more specific phrases than your competitors, serving a more focused niche to outmaneuver them.
The Future of SEO
Does SEO have the power to remain the dominant form of digital marketing for years to come? In a word, yes. SEO is always evolving; search engines like Google are constantly refining their algorithms and changing the criteria they use to rank results, while optimizers work tirelessly to devise new innovative tactics.
The SEO of 2030 may therefore be very different than the SEO of 2020. But because we’ll likely rely heavily on some form of search for the foreseeable future, and because there will always be a path for businesses to take advantage of that search, SEO is likely to remain popular.