Justifying the benefits and even necessity of a quality organic search engine optimization campaign is something that I find myself doing to the point of exhaustion with almost every new client. SEO is often seen as over-priced with little tangible product to those who are not fluent in its’ practice so the first step to any strong SEO pitch is to educate the client on why organic search engine optimization provides the best ROI (return on investment) of any marketing campaign online or off.
Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Marketing began as the practice of promoting a website’s visibility through higher natural search engine results listings (achieved through SEO) and paid ad placement and directory inclusions. Over time the organic and paid campaigns have each branched into separate industries of their own, with experts on each side. Both are extremely beneficial and have their pros and cons, so where to invest your online marketing dollar really depends on the goals of the individual client.
Search Engine Marketing as a service focuses more on cost-per-click and paid inclusion campaigns which require ongoing maintenance in order to continue receiving traffic or sales leads. PPC campaigns are competitive and ad placement through ad brokering services are negotiated for set periods of time (ie monthly, quarterly, annually, etc ) before having to be renegotiated. Each normally involves paying a set dollar amount for each click or lead generated through that advertising model and unless properly managed can quickly exhaust a marketing budget.
Search Engine Optimization focuses on using the content and structure of the website itself to be its own advertising engine while avoiding the ongoing cost of an SEM campaign. A quality SEO campaign begins with identifying what the highest volume and most profitable relevant keywords are that individuals would use to find your product or service. The SEO professional will then create content and code to include in your site that will best align your website with those profitable search terms, causing your site to appear at the top of search engine listings. Beyond just achieving the desired search engine placement, quality content will also assist in converting visitors from just traffic into sales or leads.
How is Organic SEO Valuable?
Organic search traffic accounts for anywhere between 65-80% of all traffic to a website. From these searches, at least 60% of users only click on results found within the first page before making a purchase or changing their search terms. What this means is that the majority of visitors a website receives are a result of a person using relevant key words in a search engine query that returns that website in the top ten. The best aspect of a quality SEO campaign is that there is no end to the amount of traffic that can be garnered from natural search engine placement. Unlike a PPC campaign, you are not continually having to pay to receive these visitors.
While high search engine placement has the statistical benefit of increased visibility and traffic, a well optimized site also provides strength to your brand image. With search engines placing higher penalties on low-quality sites, a site that naturally lands at the top of search engine results has a greater perceived “authority” than it’s paid counterparts. And because proper market segment research was performed and applied in the campaign this transforms each site visitor into a more qualified potential sales lead. Above all else, organic search engine optimization is built into the site from the onset of the project and can be modified at any time to meet changing consumer trends with very minimal effort.
How do I express the benefits of organic SEO to my client?
Increased awareness – SEO’s intention is to broaden the search terms that apply to the the client’s web properties in order to gain more traffic to prospective clients. This will include more in-depth content and strategically placed keywords that have a naturally high volume of traffic each month.
Increased qualified sales leads – All content will be written in such a way that it encourages readers to contact the sales team to gain more information without being offensively sales-pitchy. This request for contact can be in the form of a call, visit, or email, but often works best when the design team prepares a custom inquiry form on the site that is open to the public. The more accessible information is to the potential customer, the easier and more convenient the entire experience will be.
Increased ongoing sales effort opportunities – Through the increased visibility, traffic, and customer contact, it will be easier for the sales team to identify upcoming date opportunities, events that could garner new business, and trends in the consumer market. They will also have a fast-growing list of pre-qualified contacts for future promotions.
The end result?
The end goal of an organic search engine optimization campaign is to increase conversions through inbound inquiries, while decreasing both the outbound sales effort costs and ongoing online marketing expenses.