This year, the need for SEO rose to an all-time high. As consumers shifted en masse to online, even the most traditional business realized that they need to accelerate the shift to digital.
SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers in key moments that matter.
Many brands and businesses know (or think they know) that they need SEO for their digital properties, and the benefits they will get from the SEO work being implemented on their behalf.
SEO will certainly improve a website’s overall searchability and visibility, but what other real value does it offer?
Why is SEO growing in importance the way it is?
These 15 reasons should offer some clarity, regardless of the industry or business size, as to why businesses need SEO to take their brand to the next level.
1. Organic Search is Most Often the Primary Source of Website Traffic
Organic search is a massive part of most businesses’ website performance and a critical component of the buyer funnel and ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement.
As marketers know, Google owns a significantly larger portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and many, many others.
That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility – they do. It’s just that Google owns a considerable portion of the overall search market.
Nevertheless, it’s a clear-cut leader, and thus its guidelines are important to follow.
But the remaining part of the market owned by other engines is valuable to brands, too. This is especially true for brands in niche verticals where voice, visual and vertical search engines play an essential role.
Google, being the most visited website in the world (and specifically in the United States), also happens to be the most popular email provider globally with more than 1 billion users.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine and over 2 billion people access it at least once a month.
We know that a clear majority of the world with access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.
Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines will always work in a brand’s favor. Quality SEO and a high-quality website take brands there.
2. SEO Builds Trust & Credibility
The goal of any experienced SEO is to establish a strong foundation for a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search, thanks to the trust and credibility of the brand and its digital properties.
Many elements go into establishing authority regarding search engines like Google.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of aspects like:
- Natural links.
- Positive user behavior.
- Machine-learning signals.
- Optimized on-page elements and content.
But establishing that authority will do more for a brand than most, if not all, other digital optimizations.
The problem is, it’s impossible to build trust and credibility overnight – just like in real life. Authority is earned and built over time.
Following Google’s E-A-T guidelines is critical to ensure successful results.
Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment and relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust a brand.
3. SEO is the Best Way to Understand the Voice of the Consumer
From understanding macro market shifts to understanding consumer intent in granular detail, SEO tells us what customers want and need.
SEO data and formats – spoken or word – gives us clear signals of intent and user behavior.
It does this in many ways:
- Search query data.
- SERP analysis.
- Analytics data and AI insights.
4. Good SEO Also Means a Better User Experience
User experience has become every marketer’s number one priority. Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. However, few realize that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.
Google has learned how to interpret a good or unfavorable user experience, and a positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.
Google’s Page Experience Update is something that marketers in all industries will need to adhere to and is part of their longstanding focus on the customer experience.
Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there’s going to be a problem. And performance will suffer.
A clear example of building a solid user experience is how Google has become more and more of an answer engine offering the sought-after data directly on the SERPs (search engine results pages).
The intention is to offer users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks, quickly and easily.
Quality SEO incorporates a positive user experience, leveraging it to work in a brand’s favor.
5. Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions
With the rise and growing domination of mobile traffic, local search has become a fundamental part of small- and medium-sized businesses’ success.
Local SEO aims at optimizing your digital properties for a specific vicinity, so people can find you quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.
Local optimizations focus on specific neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, and even states to establish a viable medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.
SEO pros do this by optimizing the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, as well as regional listings relevant to the location and business sector a brand belongs to.
To promote engagement locally, SEO pros should optimize a brand’s Knowledge Graph panel, its Google My Business listing, and its social media profiles as a start.
There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google, as well as other reviews sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List (among others), depending on the industry.
I recommend following the local SEO tips on SEJ here.
6. SEO Impacts the Buying Cycle
Research is becoming a critical element of SEO, and the importance of real-time research is growing.
Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, ground-breaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.
It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.
Brands must be visible in the places people need them for a worthy connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers and the businesses providing those answers.
7. SEO is Constantly Improving and Best Practices are Always Being Updated
It’s great to have SEO tactics implemented on a brand’s website and across its digital properties. Still, if it’s a short-term engagement (budget constraints, etc.) and the site isn’t re-evaluated consistently over time, it will reach a threshold where it can no longer improve because of other hindrances.
The way the search world evolves (basically at the discretion of Google) requires constant monitoring for changes to stay ahead of the competition and, hopefully, on Page 1.
Being proactive and monitoring for significant algorithm changes is always going to benefit the brands doing so.
We know Google makes thousands of algorithm changes a year. Fall too far behind, and it will be tough to come back.
SEO pros help to ensure that is avoided.
8. Understanding SEO Helps You Understand the Environment of the Web
With the always-changing environment that is the World Wide Web, it can be a challenge to stay on top of the changes as they take place.
But staying on top of SEO includes being in the loop for the major changes taking place for search.
Knowing the environment of the web, including tactics being used by other local, comparable businesses and competitors, will always be beneficial for those brands.
9. SEO is Relatively Cheap and Very Cost-Effective
Sure, it costs money. But all the best things do, right?
SEO is relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considerable in terms of a brand’s benefit to the bottom line.
This isn’t a marketing cost; this is an actual business investment.
Exemplary SEO implementation will hold water for years to come. And, like most things in life, it will only be better with the more attention (and investment) it gets.
10. SEO is PR
SEO helps build long-term equity for your brand. A good ranking and a favorable placement help elevate your brand’s profile.
People search for news and related items, and having a good SEO and PR strategy means your brand will be seen.
Having a good user experience on your website means your messages will be heard, and your products or service sell.
SEO is no longer a siloed channel, so integrating with content and PR helps with brand reach and awareness alongside other results.
11. It’s a Long-Term Strategy
SEO can (and hopefully does) have a noticeable impact within the first year of action being taken, and many of those actions will have an effect that lasts more than several years.
As the market evolves, yes, it’s best to follow the trends and changes closely.
But even a site that hasn’t had a boatload of intense SEO recommendations implemented will improve from basic SEO best practices being employed on an honest website with a decent user experience.
And the more SEO time, effort, and budget committed to it, the better and longer a website stands to be a worthy contender in its market.
12. It’s Quantifiable
SEO is quantifiable.
While SEO doesn’t offer the same easy-to-calculate ROI as paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.
The big problem is trying to connect the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions.
Still, it is worth understanding how specific actions are supposed to affect performance and growth, and hopefully, they do.
Any good SEO will aim at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge.
Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance, especially for SEO when they have a person/company being paid to execute on its behalf.
There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either. But, of course, we all know the data never lies.
13. SEO Brings New Opportunities to Light
High-quality SEO will always find a means of discovering and leveraging new opportunities for brands not just to be discovered but to shine.
Offering quality SEO to brands means submersing an SEO team in everything that is that brand. It’s the only way to truly market a brand with the passion and understanding that its stakeholders have for it: becoming a stakeholder.
The better a brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help it thrive. The same can be said about SEO.
New opportunities with SEO today can come in many ways – from giving content, digital and social opportunities to helping with sales, product, and customer service strategies.
14. If You’re Not on Page One, You’re Not Winning the Click – Especially With Zero-Click Results
SEO is becoming a zero-sum game as zero-click SERP show the answer directly at the top of a Google search result.
The search intent of the user is satisfied without having to click any actual search result links.
It’s no secret in the world of SEO that if you’re not on Page 1, you’re likely not killing the organic search game.
A recent study shows that the first three organic search ranking positions result in over 50% of all click-throughs, while up to 30% of all results on Page 1 and 2 don’t get clicked at all.
What’s this mean?
- Zero-click results win.
- If you’re not on Page 1, you need to be.
- There are still too many instances when a user types a search query and can’t find exactly what it’s looking for.
15. SEO is Always Going to Be Here
Consumers will always want products and services online, and brands will always look for the most cost-effective way to do that.
While the role of SEO may change and strategies change, new avenues are constantly opening up through different entry points such as voice, apps, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to Comserve.Inc, next-generation search engines powered by deep neural networks and machine learning are set to explode in market value, from $14.9 billion in 2019 to $55.7 billion in 2025.
New, organic search opportunities will always arise.
The role of SEO has expanded significantly over the last few years.
In particular, SEO helps consumers when in need, and implementing robust, quality SEO on a brand’s website and digital properties will benefit brands and their marketing efforts.
SEO has its challenges, but the opportunities it brings help future-proof success for any type of business and are critical to a brand’s web presence now and in the future.
- Why Search – and SEO – Is Important
- How to Evaluate & Improve Your SEO Strategy
- Core Web Vitals: A Complete Guide
All screenshots taken by author, July 2021