In one word, yes. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are common business buzzwords that many business owners have a hard time understanding, largely because they’re evolving too rapidly for most people to keep up with. A decade ago, SEO involved stuffing as many keywords as possible into web copy, often resulting in unreadable gibberish, in order to grab higher search engine result page (SERP) rankings. Search engines have grown in sophistication, and in today’s world, they are not fooled by such tactics: In fact, they penalize websites who use them. Modern SEO content has to be unique and readable, and websites need to load fast and be mobile-friendly in order to achieve top SERP rankings.

Invest In SEO And SEM Done Correctly

Although Google’s algorithms tend to lead the trends, most contemporary search engines penalize the rankings of websites who post identical copy to other sites, they actively ferret out keyword-stuffed pages and lower their rankings, and they lower the rankings for sites that are not fully functional on mobile devices. If your company is not investing in SEO and SEM done correctly, you’re losing business and throwing away marketing opportunities.

Why Should We Care About SEO?

Correct SEO practices bring big results for the companies that employ them. Organic search, when a user types search terms into a search engine and clicks through to a link in the results, is responsible for a staggering 64 percent of all referral traffic, while direct referral, paid SERP placement, and social media bring up the rear. In addition, SEO-generated leads result in an average 14.6 percent close rate, compared to outbound lead generation like direct mail, print ads, TV and outdoor advertising, cold calling, trade show leads, and purchased lists, which average a measly 1.7 percent close rate. The ROI on SEO services that help a company’s site achieve high SERP rankings for the most common keywords related to their business is nearly 10 times that of outbound marketing.

Close Only Counts In Horseshoes…

It’s a common belief, especially among small business owners, that ranking on page two or three of the SERPs for your industry’s common keywords is good enough. IN fact, a study by Moz.com (along with several other studies) found that more than 71 percent of users click a link on page one of their SERPs, and 75 percent of people who do not find what they wanted on page one will revise their search terms and search again, rather than click on page two of the initial SERPs. The top five results on page one get almost 67 percent of all clicks. Pages two and three average a depressing 5.5 percent of all clicks: If your website ranks on page two or three, it has less than six percent chance of being found and clicked by search engine users. Investing in SEO to bring your company’s website onto page one of relevant SERPs is money well spent.

Position Yourself As The Authoritative Source

Page one SERP results carry another valuable benefit: Perception. When users see your website at or near the top of their SERP, there is an assumption that you got there by being experts in your field, and that you’re well-established and an authoritative source. These perceptions will lead people to share your content with colleagues, and cite your content in reports and articles, so you get passive marketing value and a higher ROI on SEO consulting services that help keep you in that top position.