SEO (search engine optimization) has always been a strong method for growth in online markets. Whether you goal is to drive website traffic or increase sales in your e-commerce store, SEO, is a vital online tool that helps point people to your website. Two of the most common SEO methods are paid searches and natural searches.
Paid searches are essentially ads a company buys to ensure their website is featured in the top rankings in search result. This has been effective for many startup companies to achieve top rankings quickly. Google even adjusted how search results are displayed with placing paid searches at the top of the search results, but with an “AD” designator next to the website link.
Some people avoid paid results altogether simply because they are afraid if they click on the paid search result, it is going to lead to a website full of annoying pop-ups or other irrelevant information. This leaves those types of people to choose from natural search results.
Natural searches are where the results are displayed based upon the ranking criteria and guidelines established by the search engine. These complex algorithms process content from websites and index site pages. The indexed data is then run through hundreds of computations to arrive at the ranking for the website.
In regards to SEO, what search engine algorithms look for are specific keywords and key phrases contained within the website content. But, before you go out and string a series of spammed keywords on your website, think again. Even though the indexing and algorithm processes are automated, the can tell the difference between organic keyword and key phrase usage and spammed content.
Over the course of 2014 and already well into 2015, what companies have been noticing is a shift from paid searches to natural searches. Natural searches have started to outpace paid searches and are growing at a steady rate. In 2014, natural search grew by almost 20%, while paid search only grew 9%.
What does this mean for your online website? It means if you are using both paid and natural search SEO methods, you can expect your natural search methods to grow twice as fast as your paid search methods. Natural search growth is not slowing down and continues to grow at an increased rate.
Driving Conversions with Natural Search SEO Methods
As natural searches continue to grow and increase, it is important for businesses to utilize proper marketing strategies to drive conversions from search results. For those, who do not know what conversions are, it is where a prospective customer clicks on your website link from search results, visits your website, and then either makes an online purchase, calls your business, or visits your actual physical location.
Natural search SEO methods do help drive website traffic and get people to visit your online pages. However, keeping people on your site and converting them is equally important. It is vital websites are designed in such a manner where it is easy for site visitors to quickly find the information they were searching for using the search engine. Otherwise, if they are greeted by a cluttered homepage and have to sift through banner ads, sidebar ads, long page load times, and other annoyances, they are going to back-click to the search results and find another site, most often, one of your competitors.
What Natural Search Means for the Rest of 2015
The first one is quite obvious: with the continued growth, websites need to start tapping into natural search SEO methods. If there are businesses still solely relying upon paid search methods, they are going to miss out on a tremendous amount of growth and missed site visitors, who could very likely turn into customers because they are ready to buy a particular product or service.
The next one is a bit more complicated because it has to do with the search engines themselves. Search engines, like Google and Bing, are constantly evolving and adapting their search ranking criteria and guidelines. Anytime they implement a major change, it does have an effect on natural search rankings. Failing to make the necessary updates results in being pushed further down into the endless list of search results, while adapting quickly to the changes pushes your rankings further up towards the top.
One of the biggest impacts on natural search in recent months is the latest updates and changes rolled out by Google. Google realized the majority of people utilizing search engines are now mobile. Mobile usage has outpaced desktop browsing some time ago, but only recently Google decided to implement actual criteria into search rankings, having a direct impact on those sites not adjusting their online strategies.
The first part of the change was to give mobile-friendly websites a badge next to the search results, much like the “AD” badge for paid searches. The next part of the change was to promote mobile-friendly websites to the top rankings and push those sites lacking mobile-friendliness further down the rankings list. Business, which took the time to test their existing site for mobile-friendliness using Google’s free tool and updated their content as needed, protected their search rankings.
As search engines continue to evolve, it is essential for businesses to adapt their online strategies. Businesses can expect search engines to continue to change as the number of mobile users continues to soar. Rather than being just a search engine, Bing and Google are slowly evolving into applications to answer questions, not just display a list of search results that were indexed and potentially could contain the answer. For businesses, staying ahead of changes and adjusting strategies anytime there is advance notice, like Google gave before making mobile-friendliness a requirement, is essential to ensure natural search SEO methods are properly utilized and continue to drive customers to their sites.