Google has a massive effect on your business’s success, whether or not you want to admit it. The idea that another company can control your success can feel like an unforeseen burden, especially for businesses that existed well before the advent of the internet. Who wants to think about Google rankings when there are so many other things to focus on as a business owner?
But the truth of it is that catering to Google can be an important tool to help you overtake competition and secure your company’s spot as an industry leader.
Instead of turning to the phone book or a local billboard, consumers are using search to find what they want, discover new products and companies, and make purchasing decisions. It is very rare for a business to grow with no presence on Google, despite stories of businesses that succeed through viral social media campaigns or by being selected by the it-celebrity of the moment.
Like it or not, your business’s Google rank can have a huge effect on its success, growth, and meeting your goals. The effects of being at the top of Google rankings for your industry can make a huge difference in your business — just as much as falling off of search results can decimate it.
What exactly does it mean for a business to be at the top of Google?
Business owners can relate to getting hundreds of phone calls every year from would-be SEO service providers claiming they can “get you to the top of Google.” And there’s a good reason why they’re all promising being No. 1 in Google search results.
In 2013, one study showed the top Google result earned 33 percent of all traffic, while 18 percent of all traffic went to the second search result.
Don’t think securing the top spot in Google rankings can make a financial difference for your business?
Let’s use the percentage breakdown from the above study. Say 1,000 people search for something you sell on your website. If you made a single sale of $40 for every 50 visitors to your site, you’d make around $264 if your website was in the top spot. But if your website was in spot two, you’d only earn $144.
If you dominate the Google rankings, you’ve got a significant advantage over other websites in the same search results. And if you’re on page two or three? Your website is akin to being nonexistent to the average Google user. Only 4.8 percent of people even look at page two.
But wait, isn’t there enough business to go around?
Let’s say you don’t sell items on your website but instead use it to introduce your service-based company. Surely people look at more than one website when researching a lawyer or a dentist, right?
It is much easier to brush off the realities of the effects of Google search results when it is harder to equate dollars and cents to website visits. When we start to think about our company as unique, offering better service than the competition and surviving on referrals from loyal customers, we tend to care less about how our website ranks in search results.
However, if no one can even discover your business online, there’s a slim chance you’ll get any business beyond referrals from your existing customers. Your customers are a finite resource that can be quickly exhausted for referrals, unlike Google search that can send new visitors to your site who have no other previous connection to your business.
Also consider this: when was the last time your business wasn’t accepting new clients? Instead of letting your business turn away new customers, wouldn’t you add to your staff to accommodate more clients?
Don’t for a second believe that your competition wouldn’t do the same if given the chance. Any business owner worth their salt will jump at the opportunity to serve more clients as long as their quality doesn’t degrade to the point it destroys their client relationships.
If your business isn’t even giving searchers a chance to find you, you’re limiting your growth potential and handing potential leads straight to your competitors who care about Google rankings.
Should SEO play a role in business planning?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is when you do things to your website and online presence to improve your search rankings. Since it is so important for your business to rank as high as possible in search results, SEO should be part of your business. But SEO definitely has a reputation of being a scam run by spammers, thanks to those countless phone calls businesses receive promising “top Google results.”
It can be hard to tell the difference between a spammy SEO company and a legitimate SEO professional if you’re unsure about SEO lingo or where to start.
Truth be told, there’s a big difference between ranking No. 1 for your own business name and ranking No. 1 for highly competitive “money” keywords — or the keywords that a potential customer uses to find the right product or service when they’re ready to make a purchase.
A qualified SEO professional can explain your company’s opportunities for ranking in search results for important keywords to your business and help guide you to better ways to present your business online to increase sales.
SEO is no longer just about keywords; it focuses on identifying the needs of your potential clients, how they talk about their problems and needs, and how to put your business’s best foot forward online to turn visitors into customers. Using SEO in business planning can help you identify what products or services to focus on in your business growth, make product purchasing decisions, and more.
You can use information like potential search traffic, seasonal trends and competitor research to get a better picture of the market and help you to make more informed decisions about the direction of your business.
A seasoned SEO pro can help you make sense of all that information and what opportunities your company can take advantage of to perform better and grow.
Starting to put SEO into action
Now that you understand the importance of Google rankings to your business, the next step is to do a quick assessment of your website’s rankings. There are lots of paid SEO analysis tools available, but you can use SEMrush to get a quick picture of your website’s performance for free.
To see your website’s search rankings, put your website’s address into the tool and view the Top Organic Keywords report to see a list of keywords your website ranks for in Google search results. In this report, you can look at which keywords your site ranks the highest for as well as get an idea of which keywords you might need to improve. You might even discover your website isn’t showing up in search for the most important keywords for your business.
No matter what the results show in this report, it’s a starting point for using SEO on your website and can help give you a base for discussion with SEO professionals.