Does SEO Even Matter Anymore?
Remember the Rubik’s Cube? The Simon Says memory game? The theory behind solving these puzzles was simple: follow the pattern correctly and solve the puzzle. At one point in time, SEO was based on the same premise. If you checked all of the “boxes” on your SEO plan, your website would move up the rankings.
As we covered in the last article, The Googing Yourself Obsession, Google’s algorithm pattern has become so sophisticated that determining your search engine ranking position (SERP), is becoming virtually impossible. Google has nearly perfected their goal of serving up content to consumers by answering the individual’s direct demands. In other words, each search result is now, more than ever, customized to each individual (this is especially true with geo-local searches, like “Seattle Dentist”).
Because of this, the opportunities that once lay within traditional keyword rankings are now dwindling at alarming rates. So, does this mean SEO no longer matters? Absolutely not. SEO matters even more now than before.
SEO matters because the web still matters.
To date, no other media channel even comes close to measurability and laser targeting your audience, and with a lower cost, than the web. Back in the day (whenever that was) traditional advertising like radio, newspaper and television would use a formula called CPM, or cost per thousand impressions. This was the gold standard for evaluating the cost benefits of advertising. All we really had to rely on was a survey estimating the total amount of listeners or subscribers. The measurement was simply taking the number and dividing it by the cost per thousands, which determined the rate it would cost to reach the audience. And keep in mind we had no idea if anyone was actually consuming the advertising.
We can all learn a lesson from traditional advertising.
SEO by definition is the process of getting more exposure from “free,” or “organic” search results on search engines. Regardless of Google’s continual changes, the goal of SEO has always remained the same: to continually increase your brand exposure on the web. This increased brand exposure results in more website traffic, in turn creating top-of-mind awareness for your services. This increase in traffic ultimately translates into increases new patient flow, which is no different than the goal of traditional advertising.
It’s time for a major shift in focus.
Capitalizing on great SEO starts with shifting your focus to what really matters. Legwork has developed what we call The Five Pillars of Successful SEO.
They are: Traffic. Time. Nurturing. Conversion. Measure.
The foundation of any SEO strategy is traffic building; Google wants to see traffic to a website. Because dentists are focused geographically, there is only so much traffic to capitalize on and will eventually plateau. So a steady stream of unique monthly visitors (unique meaning never visited) is key to maximizing traffic. The more unique visitors we are reaching on a consistent basis, the more brand building we are accomplishing. This is also why impressions (the most unique of all) matters much more than rankings.
Second is time on site. Google evaluates how much time users spend on your page and the more time visitors spend viewing your site content, the more Google assumes that your site is of higher quality. This is mainly accomplished through generating fresh monthly content such as news and blog updates, videos, and e-books designed to engage page visitors. Naturally, this serves a dual purpose by improving SEO and educating visitors on services offered.
Third is Nurturing. How many times have you researched online before making a purchasing decision? You likely visited a few sites, perhaps read reviews, asked friends and family for a recommendation, watched some YouTube videos on the subject and so on…Visitors to your site are no different; they may be investigating and learning, but not yet ready to schedule. Nurturing is the process of offering users an opportunity to learn more in exchange for providing contact information. The visitor has the option to be further educated on the topic while allowing you the opportunity to follow-up. Ultimately, the follow-up process is put in place to nurture the prospect, with the goal of getting them to schedule.
Fourth, and ultimately the most important, is conversion, where there are two stages. The first phase of conversion is part of an SEO strategy that involves using some method of a call-to-action to engage the visitor enough for them to want to act. Ultimately, a conversion is realized when a visitor chooses to call, submit a request form or appointment request, which is where the cycle of SEO ends. The second phase of conversion is measured by whether or not the call or form submission converted into an actual appointment. This is of course vitally important to measure, but is not a functional monitor of your SEO.
The fifth and final pillar is measurement. The measurement process provides you with a benchmark for where your SEO is most effective. Proper measurement and analysis offers you greater insights into where you need to focus your energy. The most common measurements include volume of traffic, time spent on the site, how many pages visited, most popular pages, referral sources and more. With this measurement process, it brings to light areas of opportunities for improvement and it’s not uncommon for your strategy to require occasional course correction.
Your SERP is still a metric that should be evaluated, which are metrics Google still provides to some degree. It’s important to compare and contrast your SERP to your traffic volumes, versus just where you rank on a specific keyword, especially with regard to local search rankings, where it has become impossible to determine rankings.
Not only does focusing on the pillars outlined above provide you with clarity and focus, it will guide your strategy to what really matters with SEO.