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Why do I need SEO?

Why do I need SEO – or search engine optimisation to give it it's full title - is a good question and the best answer is that Search Engines are a great platform for getting genuine customers.

However, it does depend on whether that is your oblective. So first of all, where does your website sit in the scheme of things? Are you:

Business A: you want that people are able to type in your URL having seen it printed somewhere, or given to them by someone.

Business B: your web-site is an integral part of your strategy for getting new customers and/or you wish to be 'found' on the internet.

If the answer is Business A, then the answer is that you don't need SEO. If the answer is Business B then unless you are already ranking well you need to ponder this:

The good news is that search engines are almost exclusively the gateway to the millions of pages of pages published on the internet, including yours.

The bad news is that less than half of those web pages aren't even indexed by search engines.

At which point, you'll probably be beginning to understand why you need SEO. That's right. To give you prominence in the search engines. After all, people are fickle. Did you know that in general:

  • Each search engine results page (SERP) has only 10 websites listed
  • 60 - 70% of the clicks will go to the top-three listed sites
  • Onle one-third of all searchers online don’t go past the first page
  • Of those that do only around 15% will click on page two i.e around 5% of clicks
  • Only about 2% of searchers get past page two

(figures provide by AoL and Mediapost)

This demonstrates that really, as far as search engines are concerned, you need to be on the first page whether through what is called “organic” search or paid search (PPC).

Which is best: SEO or PPC

So, does it matter? After all, why go to the bother of SEO when you can just pay for the privilege of being on the first page.

Another good question. To decide that you need to gauge the relative merits.

PPC is “quick”. You can normally get yourself on to page one in a matter of hours. Conversely, SEO is something that needs to be worked on over a period of time (more on that in the next article).

Another difference is that PPC is just “one shot in the dark”. You have to keep paying to keep yourself on the first page. There is also an element of that with SEO, but you are building yourself an asset – something that will generate more new customers over a more lasting period of time.

Then there is the element of effectiveness i.e. are searchers likely to click on a paid ad, or an organic listing. It's amazing what people can do today and one useful output from your website that can be generated is a heat-map.

The Relevance of Heat Maps

No. nothing to do with a searcher visiting a dubious site, but an indication of what a searcher does on visiting a website. Below is a picture of a heat map of of a Google SERP, courtesy of Google.

It demonstrates a striking reinforcement to statistics that the top three listings will command the bulk of the resultant site visits. But, interestingly, it indicates less effectiveness of paid ads.

Even with Google messing about with their SERPs and putting paid ads at the top of the page, it makes little difference. Whilst people may be fickle, experienced searchers generally realise where the 'real' listings start.

Is there a Case for PPC?

In a word, Yes. In trying to meet the objective of delivering a searcher the most relevant content, Google has a habit of changing the criteria it uses to rank sites.  One day you can be "number 1", the next day nowhere to be seen.

At this point, you may need to revert to PPC whilst you re-establish your rankings.  Also, it is thought that investing in PPC will go towards higher rankings in the organic listings.  On balance tho'.....

SEO it is then!

So, all in all, it looks like that if you need to maximise your chances of being be noticed by potential customers, you need SEO