SEO is a Fundamental Website Requirement
A C-Level Executive explained their website requirements, and towards the end of the conversation, he said, "...and we don't need any SEO on our site." I don't quite remember anything else after that. I won't lie, I was in a state of shock.
There is a lot of misinformation (or perhaps too much information) about SEO so let's simplify, my definition of SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it increases your online revenues through paid and organic search. In my playbook, SEO is the difference between a website that generates revenue and one that doesn't.
Important Note: You won't find many SEO definitions that include Paid Search, but here is why I included it: Paid search runs via an algorithm that's similar to Organic search. In fact, the Quality Score on Paid Search is based on a lot of Organic Search factors (ie. page speed, keywords, and elements of landing page optimization). If your website is organically optimized, you will be paying substantially less on your Google Ads / Pay Per Click Campaign -- there is a direct correlation.
SEO is about satisfying User's expectations so that they are motivated enough to use your service. Even though SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, what Search Engines, in particular Google, does is study User behavior. Essentially, Google's algorithm has been trying to mimic the way people think and behave online.
When you realize that all Google is trying to do is mimic the human brain, it then follows that SEO doesn't stop with Search Engine traffic. It actually includes all traffic coming to your website. Traffic from referral websites, traffic from Social Media -- all traffic!
When Users land on your website, Optimization enables your website to have higher conversion rates, higher click-through-rates, and longer time-on-site.
An example of the way Google mimics User behavior is Pagespeed -- 40% of users abandon a website when it doesn't load within 3 seconds. Google knows this from all the collated data on their servers and now includes Pagespeed in their algorithm. Below are other examples of how Google mimics User behavior.
Google's Algorithm Mimics Users Behavior
Google has gone to lengths to explain how its algorithms work, here are a few examples of how it mimics User behavior...
In the days prior to the Internet, businesses increased revenues through word-of-mouth marketing. Essentially, a User would talk to their neighbor about how much they like and trust the business. The neighbor would be persuaded to use that business based on word-of-mouth from the neighbor. Today, in 2021, word-of-mouth marketing is essentially done via Social Media and other 3rd Party Review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Small Business, TrustPilot, etc. -- All these external sites with reviews increase a Users interest in your product or service and in many instances convince them to sign up. That's why it's important to have a comprehensive online presence. Naturally, Google will rank your website higher when you have links from social media and review websites. Users also trusts your website when they see reviews from 3rd party sites.
Important Review Metrics** include:
- 89% won't take action without reading reviews
- 70% read at least 4 reviews
- 15% don't trust a business without reviews
- Reviews increase conversion rates by as much as 270%
- 53% of Americans attribute reviews and ratings as a crucial attribute of online shopping
As mobile Users began to increase and eventually, in some categories, overtake website visits, one of the first things I noticed was that if a website wasn't mobile-friendly a User would click off. Obviously if a User is having issues reading your website, they are not going to stick around. Google's robots picked up on this and launched the Mobile-first algorithm. At that time it was called "mobilegedon," a very apt name for what would happen to websites if they were not mobile-friendly.
Important Mobile Metrics*** include:
- 85% of Americans own a smart phone
- More than 50% of all web traffic is mobile
- 69% prefer to look for reviews on smart phones
- More than 51% use mobile phones to purchase products online
Google created a tool to test to see if your website is mobile-friendly. Having a mobile-friendly website is part of Google's ranking algorithm.
When webmasters started stuffing websites with keywords and low-quality content to increase search engine ranking, Users were not having it. A User looking for a product or service will not trust a landing page when the content is full of grammatical errors, keywords stuffing, etc. In fact, websites lost traffic as Users clicked off these web pages. Google then introduced the Panda Algorithm to address low-quality content. Here is Google's blog post about Panda.
Panda's was designed to detect the following:
- Low-quality content
- Thin content
- Duplicate content
- Content farming
- High Ad to content ratio
- Low-quality content going to affiliate links
- Mismatching search query
There are many more examples of Google's algorithm mimicking user behavior but I will end it at that. The most important thing to remember is this: SEO isn't just about rankings. SEO is also about conversions and user experience.
**Staggering Online Review Statistics