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Is SEO still important?

In News by Creative Mushroom

The simple answer is yes.

If that's your question, you have your answer. You can stop reading now.
Why is it important? - Well that's a different answer altogether...

As a business or organisation that needs web traffic, it's really important to know what SEO is and what it's value is to you. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of making your website as visible as possible in the search engines to your potential customers.

Now to some people, they may not think this is important. I've heard the phrase "If you google my [business] name, my website comes up."
- Well done Google, your complex algorithms have matched a direct query against a business name!
These days, SEO Is more than matching search queries against matching company names. Google is a complex series of algorithms within an Artificially Intelligent search engine capable of making it's own decisions. This means that your website has to answer all the questions it asks.

Do you sell cakes or publish cake recipes?

Let's demonstrate a simple example of how a typical search query might get handled.

  • The search query is conducted on a smartphone - So the website needs to work according to Google's algorithm that checks to see if the website works on smartphones.
  • The search query is for a local business in Helston selling cakes. So the user types "Cakes Helston" - Google will  start to run through a series of checks (not necessarily in this order) such as:
    a) Look for a website called Helston Cakes. If your website is called that, you will no doubt be the first organic returned result.
    b) Check your location to confirm you are local to the place called Helston.
    b) Look for any Google Search Engine business listings for cake shops in Helston as they will have extra authority than those that don't have a business listing. They will also be relevant geographically to you.
    c) See which sites have a constant supply of traffic to their website. Sites that get traffic are more likely to be popular and therefore more helpful to users
    d) A more longstanding presence in the search engines. This means the business has probably been around a lot longer and so is probably good at what they do.
    e) Check if any other websites link to or refer to the website. (Backlinks are a very important part of SEO) - This is an indicator that other websites see yours as an authoritative source in your field or are proud to associate with you.
  • Does the site site mention the locality of Helston? This would obviously be important as this was asked for in the query.
  • Does the site mention the word cakes in phrases that demonstrate that you sell cakes and publish recipes for cakes?
  • Do you have an online store selling cakes as products? This would of course be a key indicator to search engines and customers that you are in the business of selling cakes.

    etc etc...

There are literally hundreds of decisions involved in a Google search query. All delivered instantly. It's important to get it right and reap the rewards of being found for a correct search by the right type of potential customers.
In the example above, there could be a multitude of people looking for the ingredients to make a cake ending up at the website if the SEO hasn't been researched, monitored and  continuously tweaked.
The worst part is you'll never know about the customers you missed if you don't monitor your SEO. 

This handy article from Google explains a bit more about the way it matches search queries and how it deals with them.

SEO is as important today as it ever was. The search engines are now including more paid results in the results page which means that it is even harder to get found organically. A well researched SEO plan and ongoing content strategy is an investment well spent to attract new website traffic.