SEO Basics Part 1 of 2: What & Why

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

A wise SEO guy once explained SEO to me this way. 

Imagine your website is a house in a development where every house looks exactly the same.  You want to sell your house (and it happens that so does everyone else), but it’s just like all the others!

Any average Joe would begin at least by painting the house a different color, landscaping the yard, adding an in ground pool even; painting the inside, remodeling the kitchen, finishing the basement; and the like. Basically – making the house permanently different and better than all the others.  After that, you are guaranteed people will pay more attention to your house than the others, and you have a much better chance of selling it.

This is, in short, what SEO does to your website.

Editor’s note: I broke this blog into two, due to verbosity, the subject matter, and the friendly advice of a coworker.  Therefore, this blog is Part 1 of 2: “The What and Why of SEO”; Part 2 is the “How,” and you’re going to have to wait for that.  [Evil laugh!]

We Are #1 for Syracuse Ad AgencyWhat Is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process by which you make your website more visible to web users via search engines.  Since Google tops the charts as the #1 most visited website online and dominates Yahoo! and Bing as the most used search engine (92% of people use Google), we can simplify the definition to: how you go about ranking higher on Google.

97% of people use the internet to search for products and services.  Not the Yellow Pages (which are now used as only as booster seats, podium risers, and insect smashers).  You’ve done it before (searched the internet for stuff), I’m guessing (and maybe the booster seat thing).

Imagine you want to enroll your kid in the best karate classes in town.  You simply go to your computer, and “Google” the keywords “karate classes [insert your city]” and voila!  85,300 results show up in 0.48 seconds.  This page on Google is called the “SERP” page (search engine results page).

Most people – 45% – will click the website that ranks #1 on SERPs.  70% won’t go beyond the top 3.  96% won’t leave the first page (top 10 only)!  So basically, if your website is not on page one of Google for the keywords that relate to your products and services, you have less than a 4% chance of people finding you; and about a 96% chance of competitors getting all the business.

The good news is: you can change that.

SERP Pie Graph of Traffic by Google RankWhy SEO?

If the above facts and example didn’t do it for you, this will. 

  • SEO is less expensive.  Outbound marketing (hiring a sales guy to run around for you) costs almost $400 to generate one lead (can you say “sales lunch?”).  Inbound marketing (attracting business in the marketplace, a.k.a. online, a.k.a. SEO) costs about half that - $173 to be exact. 
  • SEO is longer lasting.  Ever clicked on an ad online?  Most people don’t usually (80% don’t) but you probably have at least once, if not by accident.  Those ads (called PPC, or pay-per-click) work one-time only and cost anywhere from $1-$40 per click, depending on what and who’s selling.  Don’t get me wrong: PPC is valuable in its own way (which I will detail in another blog); but SEO, on the other hand makes your website accessible usually over a long period of time.  It’s the difference between handing out flyers to go see your house and planting flowers in the yard that win “Best Gardening” in the local paper. 
  • SEO is more effective.  When was the last time you believed the best ad online had the answer to your questions?  Almost every internet user trusts the top search results every time.  “Best places to eat in New York,” “Top shopping centers in Pennsylvania,” “Best hotels in Syracuse,” etc., etc., etc.

Well, that's all for now folks.  That concludes this summary of the “what” and “why” of SEO.  Tune in next time for the “how.”  (Edge of your seat, I know!)

To find out more about SEO (because you can't wait) and how Cowley can help you make it work for your website, visit our new SEO services page and feel free to shoot us a quick question or contact us for a free analysis and proposal.


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