In years gone by, it was common for users to go to websites directly by typing the specific URL in the address bar. However, recent estimates indicate that between 81 and 93% of users find their desired destination through a search engine.
As a result, digital-savvy businesses have realised that in today’s cluttered marketplace, it pays to rank highly in Google searches to find new customers, or rather so that new customers can find you.
Traditionally, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising was viewed as the quick and easy way to get your business seen on search engines, with sponsored placements appearing at the top, and on the side, of relevant Google searches. However, a study published by Conductor in 2014 revealed that organic search is responsible for approximately 64% of all website traffic, while paid search generates only 6%.
When was the last time you clicked on a sponsored listing in a Google search result?
As humans, we are naturally suspicious of advertising. Statistics indicate that over the years, we’ve learned to block out this “noise”, with research by imforza.com showing that around 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads altogether, focusing on the organic results instead.
Why do we do this?
Warren Giffin, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Consultant at Belfast-based digital marketing agency, Gekkoshot.com, explained: “Unlike algorithms and machines, as humans we value authority, relevance and trust (ART), which means we tend to ignore the sponsored listings and head straight for the organic ones instead.”
“Search engines like Google take this into consideration, so as a business, if you want to get more people to your website, your number one aim should be to organically place higher in search engine rankings, which you can do by working on your ART.”
It is generally accepted that Pay Per Click advertising can be effective for products, but usually not for services. It relies on a well thought-out campaign, which is specific to your company goals, and it also requires that your website and landing pages are fully optimised for conversion.
For PPC advertising to be done correctly, it is often recommended to hire a specialist company to manage the campaigns, which means it can become very expensive, very quickly.
A critically important factor is that Pay Per Click may offer an immediate lift to your website’s performance, but if you stop paying for advertising, your website stops performing.
Alternatively, while Search Engine Optimisation does require time and resource investment, it works equally well for products, services, and individuals, and it is more beneficial than PPC in terms of increased trusted brand awareness, overall cost-effectiveness, and significantly improved longevity.
Depending on the size and scope of your organisation, you could hire a Marketer with digital and SEO experience to consistently work on your search engine rankings, but many companies – especially those that are small to medium in size – instead choose to outsource this skill to a reputable and local agency.
Warren added: “Strategically, Pay Per Click advertising is relatively easy for your competition to copy – if they notice you are running ads, they can start running ads too – often copying your chosen keywords and customer message.”
“Good SEO offers some protection against this, but it isn’t just about getting your website to rank higher organically, it’s also about your business being recognised in your industry as an authority on the problem at hand that someone is searching for a solution to. It’s about being a relevant and credible source of information, and building trust with your audience and potential clients. It’s about ART.”
Since the invention of the World Wide Web by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, and the dawn of Google in 1998, the digital transformation of business, and of digital marketing, has been exponential. Now, in 2018, there is a real threat to the survival and success of businesses who fail to adapt to modern marketing techniques, including optimising their position in search engine rankings.
SEO Consultant, Warren, believes getting search engine optimisation right can be a little more complex than people first think.
“For example, many SEO tactics that were popular in 2004 are no longer very effective, in fact some can even hurt your search engine ranking rather than improving it” he said.
“We can provide clients with fully outsourced SEO support, or we can work with their internal Marketing resource to help ensure that search engine optimisation strategy, implementation, and monitoring is as cost-effective as possible.”
Established in 2004, Gekkoshot is a Belfast-based digital marketing agency that specialise in web design and search engine optimisation for a wide range of small and medium sized businesses in Northern Ireland, Ireland and the rest of the UK, working with clients as diverse as mortgage brokers, recruitment portals, medical clinics, hotels, bars, restaurants, and more.