Is SEO/SEM Still Important for Your Website?
I remember a time when every conversation I had with a company about their online presence quickly led to the question of: “How about SEO? Will my new site be search engine optimized?”
Search Engine Optimization was always at the top of a client’s wish list for their new website, although this was partly because they misunderstood exactly what SEO was (more on that shortly). Today I am hearing fewer and fewer people ask about SEO or SEM (Search Engine Marketing), raising the question that prompted this article – “Is SEO/SEM still important for a website?”
SEO Is Not Magic
The first thing we should address is the aforementioned misunderstanding of what SEO is, and what it is not. SEO is not magic. There is no special code that can be added to a website to suddenly make it rocket to Page 1 of Google. SEO is, and always has been, a process that starts with how a website is built and continues long after it has been launched. Unfortunately, because SEO has long been the most misunderstood aspect of a website’s success, it has created many false promises and outright scams. At the best, this misunderstanding often leads to clients thinking SEO is some kind of magic website voodoo. At worst, scammy SEO practices can actually lead to a site being blacklisted from search engines rather than climbing to the top of them!
So - if SEO is not magic, how does it work?
An SEO Primer
Optimizing a website for search engines has always meant following a set of best practices and standards to make that site easier for human beings - and by proxy search engines as well - to find and understand. In turn, this makes the website more attractive to those search engines and easier for their algorithms to properly categorize pages.
Following all the SEO best practices did not guarantee your website high rankings, however. There were, and still are, many other factors that contribute to how a website is ranked in Google and other search engines. One of the most important of these factors is quality inbound links to your website. Google wants to rank the best content high for any given search term, and one of the ways they determine quality is through links from other websites. Not all links are created equally, of course. A link from a very popular site that is respected and authoritative on the same subject matter that your own site covers is going to do far more for you than a link from your friend’s personal website about bass fishing (assuming your website is not also about bass fishing). Additionally, a link from a disreputable source, like a link-farm that you pay money to in order to get tons of inbound links, will not only not help you, it will hurt you once Google figures out all the inbound links are bogus.
There is no shortcut to inbound links, and you never want to pay for those links or social media “likes.” Shady practices like that will always come back to bite you in the end.
So, Is SEO Still Relevant?
Yes, SEO is still relevant today, but it is not the be-all-end-all for your digital marketing strategy. SEO has always been only part of the equation if you want your site to be found by the people looking for the goods or services your business and website offer.
In today’s business environment, we have access to numerous tools and forms of communication. If you rely solely on search engines, which is where SEO practices have an impact, you are making a shortsighted choice. You must also consider social media, video content, events (both live and digital), email marketing, podcasting, print media, partner marketing, and more. Do you need to do every single one of these? Not necessarily, but each is a viable way to connect your website and your business to the right audience. If you want your digital marketing strategy to help you connect to as many people as possible, you need to consider these different channels as you build a well-rounded communication strategy.
How Do I Know If My Strategy is Well-Rounded?
With so many channels of communication, finding the right mix for your specific organization can feel a bit daunting. The Digital Innovation & Design experts at Envision can help cut through the noise to establish a plan that fits your needs. Starting with a look at your website and how it stacks up to current best practices, and encompassing your current social media and digital marketing efforts, together we can help connect your company to a wider, more engaged, audience.