When anyone wants to know something, increasingly their first choice for finding answers is Google. We even say, ‘Google it’, turning the proper noun into a verb because looking up answers on Google is so common. Sure, there are other search engines out there, but Google still accounts for nearly 90% of online searches worldwide according to data on Statista. As a business, understanding search, and how search engines work is critical as you focus your marketing efforts on awareness. And, before you ask, yes, other search engines exist, for instance, Bing and Yahoo, but, because search is really Google’s game, we focus our search advice on Google. Plus, other search engines, in an homage to the dominance of Google, structure their search in many similar ways.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the reasons you should focus your marketing efforts on search engines:
68% of web traffic comes from search engines
There are some pretty alarming search engine stats, but this is the most significant one from a marketing standpoint. We know that billions of people use the internet every day. We know that billions of people use search engines. This stat shows us how powerful and valuable search engines are for businesses.
68% of trackable web traffic comes from either paid or organic search engine marketing. That’s a ridiculous figure when you stop and think about it. Let’s think about it from another perspective. If you ignore search engines, you’re missing out on 68% of your web traffic. Search traffic, by its very nature, consists mainly of opportunities to create awareness among folks who don’t already know about your brand. A few users are reminded by seeing your brand show up in their search results (SERPs), but current customers most often simply enter your company into the Omnibox (the search box at the top of the screen) when looking for products like the ones you sell.
So many leads fall through a gaping hole when you don’t have a strong search presence. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website or business more relevant to customers searching for your services. In the past, companies advertised using billboards and television advertising. The idea then was to reach a broad range of people in the hope that some of them would connect with your product or service. SEO and Google Analytics have turned that philosophy on its head. Nowadays, especially online in the world of digital marketing, relevance is all-important. When someone is looking for a service you offer, your website should appear to them first – that’s if you have properly optimized it for search.
Your chances of being seen dramatically increase
The fact that so many people use search engines means your chances of being seen increase exponentially when you effectively employ search engine marketing (SEM). Primarily, SEM consists of search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising through the Google Ads platform). SEO helps improve visibility by driving your website higher in SERPs. The higher up the rankings you go, the more visible you are and the more traffic comes to your site.
Here’s another stat to back this up, 91.5% of traffic goes to websites on the first page, mostly to results in the top 3 positions in SERPs. Now, if you don’t focus your marketing effort on search engines, there’s every chance your website is on the second, third, maybe even fourth pages in the results for any search. As a result, you miss out on so much traffic and visibility that your business has a hard time succeeding, even with superior products and customer service.
Being on page one is crucial. Climbing the rankings on the first page is equally important. A whopping 32.5% of traffic goes to the top result! In short, improve your SEO and gain more traffic and broaden your appeal to your target market to create a successful business online or off.
PPC advertising improves search results, as well, even though Google denies that PPC advertising impacts search rankings. PPC is paid search engine marketing. Paid results show up at the top of SERPs and are marked as ADS. Companies pay for these ads, competing based on a bid price, as well as a quality score. Google Ads involve a complex process both for creating ads and optimizing performance with high rankings on SERPs, but the gist is that you pay to increase your exposure in certain searches.
Search engines establish authority
Here’s a test for you to try. Search for something in Google and look at the results. What do you think about the companies at the top of the page compared to those down the bottom? If you dare to venture further than this, then look at the second-page results, as well. Chances are you attribute more authority to companies whose links show higher in search results. You’re more likely to trust companies that show up first in results, which explains why you’re more likely to click links higher in results. Why do you trust them? Because they’re at the top of the rankings! In essence, we’ve learned to trust Google’s assessment of a company and its products, abdicating a more complex analysis of the company to Google’s superior knowledge about the firm. Trusting Google’s assessment of a brand isn’t some trick of the mind, it’s common sense.
Of course, you trust a website at the top of the rankings because it must be authoritative to have made it all the way to the top. As consumers, we learn to trust Google not because someone told us Google is superior to other evaluative factors, but because we used Google Search for many years and discovered the top results most often matched our needs.
Here Google and users have the same goal—to put top answers to your query first in the results. Users want to find information quickly while Google wants users to choose their search engine over its competition. Google only survives when users find results satisfactory, so Google works really hard to ensure results meet users’ expectations.
Google uses a complex algorithm composed of many indicators of value in determining where your link ranks on SERPs. The algorithm isn’t published and changes frequently, with major revisions happening every year or so as it learns (using AI) how to better satisfy users’ needs. Thus, when Google ranks websites, it quantifies various indicators of value to determine a score, showing links with the highest score highest in search results. Google wants you to see the best results in the top-ranking spots to make your life easier.
That’s right, you gain a professional reputation as an authoritative source within your domain when you focus your marketing efforts on optimizing performance against Google’s indicators.
For the business, the SEO process starts by determining keywords (actually key phrases that get longer as more folks use voice search) related to your brand. You then optimize content for these keywords by creating fresh content on a consistent basis. Other factors in the Google algorithm reflect evaluations by the community, such as visits to your site, referrals from social media platforms, and bounce rate.
All in all, the best way to understand the importance of search engines is to think about what would happen if you didn’t focus on them. Your website would miss out on lots of traffic, your business would have a complete lack of visibility, and you wouldn’t be deemed an authoritative source. Most people start the buyer’s journey on a search engine or at least end up on one at some point. Focus your digital marketing efforts on this particular strategy, and you will see great improvement.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.