Guest Post by Jeremy Abel
It doesn’t take years of experience in SEO (or marketing in general) to see the importance of an SEO strategy in your online marketing efforts. Whether you’re a big business or a start-up, companies with a strong (and ongoing) SEO strategy tend to rank higher on major search engines, attract more visitors, and learn more about their customers’ behavior.
But have you ever asked yourself WHY search engines are actually so integral to your marketing strategy, or your target market?
Search engines play a vital role in society by providing people with information. At the consumer level they offer immense assistance in the buying process. In fact, search engines affect 20% (but likely more) of the buying process. How?
The consumer decision-making process (DMP) involves 5 general stages:
- Need recognition
- Information retrieval
- Evaluation of alternatives
- Post-purchase evaluation
Of the five stages outlined above, we see that the information retrieval phase accounts for 20% of the DMP. Twenty percent! Imagine how powerful your impact could be if your company was present on the most common tool consumers use at this stage!
Oh, and that tool I’m referring to? You guessed it- Search Engines.
Don’t see the value yet? Consider the following: In December 2011, consumers submitted over 18 billion queries using a major search engine: 12 billion on Google, 2.7 billion on Microsoft sites, and 2.6 billion on Yahoo! sites according to a recent comScore study: ComScore December 2011 Search Engine Rankings
So what’s a firm to do?
Indeed, consumers rely on other factors to supplement their craving for new information. One such factor is input from peers, friends, and family. But wait- has Google taken this into consideration when building their new search algorithm? You bet they did.
Search engines realized the importance of their role in the DMP from the start. Of course, key players like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have incorporated themselves into the habitual tendencies of consumers- instant gratification anyone?
That said, it’s likely that consumers will always rely on a search engine during the information retrieval stage. We’ve accustomed ourselves to the simplicity of a search engine, and the immediate, often accurate, results they provide. And what happens when we’re rewarded for performing a given behavior? That’s right- we repeat that behavior! Thank you, Pavlov.
Infiltrating consumers’ consideration set requires being “in their paths” without crossing their path. Because consumers have developed a strong filter against unwanted advertisements, you need to place your site in a context where they actually would be looking for your product. And what context might be most prevalent amongst today’s market? Search engines.
Now, perform a search for your company’s name on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Is your company ranking on page 1?
If you answered yes- great! Now, think about the keywords your target market is using to find your site (and your competitors’ sites). Type a few of those terms in and see what the SERPs have to say.
Whether the results are good or bad, there’s a lot to glean from your online marketing efforts. Looking for more information? Sign yourself up for a free Google Analytics account and begin tracking the traffic on your site. This is where the fun begins, as your firm now has quality data that facilitates strategy development.
From one marketer to another, never underestimate the value of SEO in your marketing efforts. One way to stay ahead of your competitors: check out blogs like Ryan’s and start incorporating a few SEO tactics into your online strategy each month. As your site gets indexed- and your analytics shed new insights- you’ll be able to see the results of your efforts and have the knowledge to make refinements from there.
Jeremy Abel is an online marketer based in upstate New York. He covers the psychology of online marketing, consumer behavior, and the many facets of branding. You can view more of his content on the brandabel blog or connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.