What SEO Can And Can’t Do
SEO, or search engine optimization, has became very popular in recent years and for good reason. Search engines are such a powerful means for driving traffic to your site that you can’t afford to leave your site un-optimized. ‘SEO’ usually refers to ‘organic SEO’, meaning applying techniques that get your site listed higher in the SERPs (search engine result pages) without paying for advertising.
When you use SEO techniques, chances are that your site will rank well with search engines for particular terms, which in turn will bring more visitors to your site. When your site ranks well for your main search terms in search engines, you can reduce or even cut your advertising budget (i.e. for PPC) reserved for search engines.
What SEO can do for you
SEO when done professionally (‘White Hat SEO’), can do a lot for the popularity of your site. On the other hand, unprofessional SEO, or ‘Black Hat SEO’ (unethical techniques like spamming), can get you into trouble, including being banned from search engines. When done correctly, SEO has great benefits:
- SEO can make your site rank high in search engines. Search engines can be a major source of traffic to your site. Millions of people use search engines every day and SEO will harness part of this traffic and guide it to your site. SEO isn’t the only way to increase traffic, but it’s one of the most efficient ways and fairly easy to implement.
- SEO can attract targeted traffic. Applying keywords for highly targeted terms (i.e. long-tail keywords) to your site can pay off in generating highly targeted traffic: targeted traffic converts easier into buyers than un-targeted traffic. Un-targeted traffic will help your visitor statistics, but is harder to convert into sales and, at high volumes, will eat up valuable band width.
SEO can do a lot for your site, even if your site has very low visitor numbers. It’s hard to create a high-traffic site, if you don’t optimize it to rank high with Google and the other search engines. Of course, if you’re a popular celebrity, SEO may not be necessary at all. On the other hand, if you’re selling lamp shades online, an optimized site will bring you more traffic through the search engines than an un-optimized one.
You can and should promote your site in different ways, but if you don’t optimize your site, you’ll loose potential traffic to your competitors who did decide to optimize their site.
The wrong expectations about SEO
SEO is a very powerful way to promote a site but this doesn’t mean that your efforts should stop here:
- SEO isn’t advertising. It is different from an ad campaign that guarantees you visibility. Simply paying for ads will definitely bring you traffic quickly in the short term. Optimizing a site may take some time and effort, but for long term results SEO will be the most cost efficient way to attract traffic.
- SEO isn’t a form of sales either. Yes, it is true that more traffic will increase the chance to make more sales from your site. But SEO in itself won’t bring you increased sales. Your site has to be designed in a way that entices your visitors to buy. The use of SEO techniques can help a site rank well with search engines and even bring targeted traffic, but you still need to close the sale on your site. (Note: Google Analytics has great tools for optimizing your product pages to get the highest conversions possible.)
Bottom line: If you create a website without any regard for SEO techniques, you’ll potentially loose out on a lot of free traffic. But more traffic in itself won’t necessarily increase your sales either. To increase your conversion rates you still need to tweak your pages to keep your visitor on the site and complete a sale.
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