Do I really Need SEO? - 3 Simple Questions To Help Decide
e've all gotten (and will unfortunately forever continue to get) those same emails. "Start Ranking Better in Google Today" "Your Site Seems to Have Some SEO Issues" "Get More Visitors to Your Site" "Hey it's Your Mom and Dad, Why Haven't You Called Us In A While?"
SEO agencies are really good at planting those seeds of doubt and reeling in unsuspecting folks into lengthy and expensive SEO contracts. Many times when they're in industries or small markets that might not need them.
We've been doing SEO a long time, but for those of you who've had better things to do (like actually run an honest and successful business) here's your definitive guide to what SEO even is and whether you actually need it to help grow your business.
What Is SEO?
Before we dive into whether you even need SEO, it’s important to first have a basic understand of what it even is.
SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization) boils down to how well your website ranks in search engines like Google. While other search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves are out there, Google accounts for 90% of online searches and should be the primary focus of your optimization efforts.
Since search engines are the first stop for just about anybody surfin’ the web (check out my sweet early 2000s terminology), the best way for people to find your business and services is through search engines.
The general rule of thumb is that prospective customers/buyers don’t look past the first page of Google search results (top 10 or so).
“the first page of Google captures 71% of search traffic clicks and has been reported to be as high as 92% in recent years.” - SEO Moz
So if your website sells small batch craft artisanal pickles, and you’re not in the top ten search results for people searching “best artisanal pickles”, it’s time to start thinking about optimizing your website.
The Difference Between Local and Organic SEO
There are two basic types of SEO, Local SEO and Organic. What's the difference?
Local SEO (as the name implies) refers to Google searches for products and services in a specific area. For instance, if you’re in San Diego searching for the nearest “dog groomer”, you might not want results for groomers in New York. Both because it’s really far and your dog might come back with a gluten allergy looking like this…
For the sake of your website (and your dog) Google has made the distinction.
Here's a helpful screenshot of what Local search results look like...
Types of businesses that should focus on Local SEO:
- Dog groomers
- Local Attorneys (personal injury, defense, other location based practices)
- Healthcare professionals (plastic surgeons, dentists, veterinarians)
On the other hand, Organic SEO refers to Google searches for products, services or information with no real geographic intent on behalf of the searcher. For example, when I googled “hipster looking dog” for the photo above, I didn’t really care where the photographer was located. I just wanted the most relevant information that would help with my search. Organic SEO is most useful for companies targeting customers across the country or even the world.
Here's a screenshot of what Organic search results look like...
Types of businesses that should focus on Organic SEO:
- Online retailers
- SaaS Products
- Marketing Agencies
- Healthcare professionals (plastic surgeons, dentists, veterinarians)
How Important is SEO For My Business?
Well, everyone uses Google to look for anything and everything. From food recipes to puppy videos, search engines are the key to unlocking the world's greatest mysteries.
Here’s a cool infographic for Google Search Trends in 2019…
If you didn’t bother click on it I don’t blame you. “Cool” to us is often nerdy AF.
How important SEO is for your business really boils down to the following basic questions...
SEO Question #1: How Big Is Your City?
Frank Sinatra (the great SEO strategist) sang if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. While he was probably singing about show business, the same holds true. Bigger cities mean more opportunities and more competition. If you’re one of 100 Orthodontists in a city, having an SEO friendly website should be pretty high on your list.
On the flip side, if you’re only one of three Dentists in a small town in South Dakotah, chances are you are absolutely on the first page already. If not, get in touch with us and I’m sure we can easily help you fix that.
SEO Question #2: How specialized is your product/service?
This question also falls under the principles of Frank Sinatras advice. Only instead of worrying about the size of your market, it has more to do with the size of your industry.
If you’re one of many companies selling sportswear, chances are you’ll definitely want to invest in a sound SEO strategy to stand out. If you’re one of 8 companies that manufacture surveillance network ethernet extenders you should be fine without it.
SEO Question #3: How likely are prospective clients to use Google to find your service?
Think about the things you normally trust Google to help you find. “Phone chargers”, “coffee shops”, and our favorite impulse purchase “2am tattoo parlors” all of these searches involve convenient and low barrier purchasing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, how likely are you to trust Google to help you find a “multi million dollar mergers and acquisitions firm” or (some other example of something too important or personal)
So Do You Really Need SEO?
Simply put... yes.
Now we’re definitely not saying SEO is the end all be all to growing your business so sign up now or else. We personally only use SEO as one of the many ways to make it easy for clients to find us.
What we are saying (and we’re sure Frank Sinatra has this in a song somewhere as well) is to never have all your eggs in one basket. If you aren’t in some form utilizing SEO, you could be leaving money on the table your competitors are more than happy to take.
What goes into SEO and how much you should be spending is the subject of Part 2 of our guide to everything SEO "How Much Does SEO Cost".
We hope this article has been helpful. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions of things you’d like to see us cover.
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