There are approximately 200 factors of which a website is analysed against. These are considered ‘best practice’, or Google’s recommendations for how a website should perform. For those that use SEO–that is, ‘Search Engine Optimisation’– to follow these recommendations, Google rewards them through higher visibility in search results.
But with so many companies choosing to not to invest in SEO, and instead relying solely on paid search, which method is really the most effective?
What is SEO?
Monthly Search vol: 2,500 CPC: $7 Keyword Difficulty: 83/100
*SEO Tip: Pay attention to the search volume, Keyword difficulty and CPC that’s listed under particular titles in this article, these are terms that you’ll need to be familiar of when it comes to SEO. You can also find a glossary of terms here.
Through Search Engine Optimisation, Google is able to recommend changes that websites should make and in turn, reward those that do with better rankings in search results. Through doing this, Google creates a better experience for the users that produce over 3.5 billion searches per day. So ultimately, SEO is purely to drive companies into creating a better experience for their customers.
What’s important to remember about SEO, is that it’s really about how favourably your website returns after it’s been crawled by Google, whether you rank or not, depends solely on that.
The first thing you need to determine, is what channels you want to use to be visible in search results–organically or paid? Most websites tend to use a combination of the two.
Organic Vs. Paid– Where Do Users Click?
Surprisingly, when it comes to your visibility on Google results, both paid and organic traffic have their benefits. Paid traffic, on the one hand, yields instant results, once you place a bid for keywords through Ad Planner, you can be seen on results almost straight away. The other benefit; is that it is very useful in local search and can work to budgets very well.
But when it comes to organic search results, and being visible through SEO practices, it really is the clear winner. Organic traffic–usually the top 3 results–have the highest clicks than others, including PPC ads.
“On average, 90% of all clicks on SERPs falls on Organic Results, and PPC ads obtain 3% of clicks”
As you can see in the above image, the click through rate in organic results shows clearly in favour of the first three results. This is an average however, and as you’ll see later in this article, it’s not always the case.
Is Ranking First The Priority?
To help explain rankings and user behaviour on search results, I’ll be using a gift website Hardtofind.com.au to illustrate how to evaluate a website performance.
Let’s search for the related keyword ‘gift ideas for women’
Search volume: 3,400 CPC: $0.80 Keyword Difficulty: 3/100
Hardtofind.com.au ranks 2nd in Google for this search time– a great result! Ranking first doesn’t mean that you’ll get more traffic, and this is where having a well-optimised title on your pages really comes in handy. Below is a screenshot of the websites that currently rank for this search term:
Here’s what’s interesting about this search result: the first ranking page has over 2,000 less click throughs than Hardtofind.com.au, even though it outranks it. This is also the page that seems to get the most backlinks, which is what we’ll discuss later in this article. This could be because of a number of things, but I have a strong feeling that it’s due simply because of a well formatted page title.
Including other relevant terms ‘Birthday Gifts & Presents’ is a great way of finding traffic from users who are particularly searching for birthday presents. This is also the ONLY search result in the top 20 that include birthday in the title– just showing how important using the right keywords are in titles to drive traffic. If you were searching for this term– which result would you click on and why?
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to be intimidated by bigger websites– they can be outranked. Using the example above, Hardtofind.com.au is a much smaller website than pages that follow including Redballoon and The Iconic, yet rank higher and obtain more traffic than those results. You can tell that these other websites are larger, due to their Alexa ranking, or ‘AR’, which suggest they get much higher website traffic.
SEO Tip: ‘AR’ in this image refers to Alexa Ranking, the definitive ranking of all websites on Google, with one being the highest.
So, now that you have a better understanding of the effectiveness of organic and paid search, you can see that while the return on investment may not be instantaneous for SEO, ranking organically is very beneficial.