Search engine optimization isn’t new, but it has been a growing force as broader internet usage and its integration into our everyday lives continues to expand. Generating traffic to a website is a continual need for businesses that rely on part or all of their sales originating online. Certainly, using SEO tactics to rank higher in Google allows for natural, organic traffic to be generated without cost. However, succeeding at optimizing to rank better is an ongoing process if you want to get the desired results – it doesn’t happen overnight. In case you’re not yet convinced, here are 7 reasons why SEO is still relevant today.
1. The Searches Are Growing
Google tracks more searches every day as the global population gets online in increasing numbers, including in the third world. The number of searches per second is tracked and can be seen on Internet Live Stats. As of the time of writing, Google processes 91,696 searches every second, and this continues to grow. While it may not sound like much, that’s over 8 million searches in just a minute and a half.
Also, the proliferation of devices and the number of ways in which people can perform searches is expanding. With greater access, people can satisfy their search for knowledge. This is important too, because the average person has less time to discover the right answers now.
2. Organic Search is More Reliable
Despite the seemingly continual Google Updates of various flavors, it’s still the safest and most reliable source of free traffic.
Look backward for clues. Sites once relied on referral traffic from Facebook. Yet despite a large following on some accounts, the social media giant turned off the traffic spigot. Now you must pay for engagement to reach your followers, which is a bit of a cheek when you think about it. It’s a little like holding your followers hostage where you must pay to release marketing messages to them. Not cool!
What’s happening now? Pinterest has now followed suit with many site owners having a large engagement and followers discovering their traffic recently fell off a cliff. Keen on keeping people on the platform to show them advertising, this visual social network is following in Facebook’s footsteps.
With SEO, you may rank for strong search phrases for years, but social traffic can die out with a change in policy by a social network. While site owners and businesses must wrestle with regular Google Updates that create a few waves, they rarely cause a total traffic wipeout. That’s not the case with social traffic that can whither to nothing overnight.
3. Google Sees New Queries Regularly
With the increasing variations on how certain information is requested, that doesn’t mean there’s stagnancy. Far from it.
Google receives new queries relating to existing information they already have answers for and must figure out what the searcher is looking for. But they also see new queries on subjects that haven’t been searched on that way too. This happens with new upcoming products soon to launch but also for seasonal topics that will be relevant in a later season but not just yet.
It’s possible to deliberately tap into these search opportunities to steal a march on competitors who aren’t so progressive in their search phase analysis. If you rank earlier and get in a prime position, it can be profitable.
4. Brand Recognition and Trust
For newer companies and standalone sites, it’s necessary to get the brand some attention. When there’s not much money in the marketing budget to do so, getting creative is what’s required.
Trust is necessary to encourage visitors to come. But it’s also more than that. When the brand pops up near the top on page one for many related search terms, searchers become naturally curious about the site. Also, they’re more likely to trust it just because Google does. So, the combination of these factors leads to a higher click-through rate.
In effect, the higher ranking becomes self-reinforcing. A higher ranking also makes it increasingly likely that the site will receive natural links. And this helps to hold onto the ranking rather than lose it a month later.
5. Best Practices Evolve with SEO
What was done with a site previously to elevate its ranking for important search terms may have been acceptable back then but has since fallen out of favor. It may even be considered bad practice at this point. Best practices with SEO evolve over time and when stopping to work on the SEO, it can create headaches later.
An annual SEO audit is necessary to look at the backlink profile and many other factors to see the site from a solid vantage point. Changes can be made based on these findings to avoid the site being penalized for previous actions that may now raise the ire of Google. Stepping away from SEO risks taking the eye off the ball and the consequences of that may be a manual penalty.
6. Still Cheaper than PPC Campaigns
While pay-per-click advertising campaigns provide almost immediate results through paid traffic, it’s costly to use them. Indeed, it used to be very inexpensive to drive paid traffic a decade ago, but the costs have risen practically every year since. Now, it’s often necessary to look at newer ad networks and platforms to keep advertising costs down even when the engagement level isn’t as good.
By contrast, SEO remains an affordable activity that requires more patience to bear fruit, but it does so at an affordable price. This contrasts with advertising where sites are increasingly priced out of the market. When you want to plan for sustainable marketing over years, not months, SEO beats PPC.
Those companies and site owners are willing to look at the medium to long-term to get profitable returns with SEO. Other approaches such as social media marketing and paid advertising are increasingly expensive. Once free sources of traffic now often require paying for engagement that rarely makes economic sense. Therefore, no one should abandon SEO because search remains the primary traffic driver for most websites today.