Before one can fully understand the importance and necessity of implementing a search engine optimization program into their marketing mix, it is important to look first at the phenomenal statistics regarding Internet use. For example:
- There are 7 new people on the Internet every second.
- Every 4th person online is buying something right now.
- One billion dollars in e-commerce transactions will be conducted this month.
- Over one trillion dollars in e-commerce business will be generated this year.
- 1 out of 8 dollars spent by consumers is spent on online transactions.
Furthermore, according to glreach, there were 649 million Internet users online worldwide in March 2003—a 14 percent increase in just one year! That comes out to be about 88 million new users in that year alone.
There can be no question that the Internet is continuing to grow at an amazing pace. While the fact that so many consumers are online is important, it is even more crucial to understand what these consumers are doing while online. The two most outstanding reasons people use the Internet is to communicate (e-mail) and to research (using search engines).
Again, here are a few statistics regarding how people spend their time online.
- 88% of all Internet users use search engines
- 37% of online shoppers used Google to search for online retailers. The search was used by 25 percent of consumers searching the Web for holiday purchases
- For car buying decisions, search engine advertising proved itself a stronger influencer (26 percent) than TV ads (17 percent)
- Virtually all affluent adult shoppers (HHI $100K+) use the Web to make or research their purchases. For automobile, computer, and travel purchases, Internet use is extraordinarily high (over 90 percent of those surveyed)
When consumers go to the Internet, they use search engines because they can find the products they want, reviews, descriptions, consumer ratings, and the best price possible. Consumers are less concerned with where they buy their products as much as they are concerned with how much product they can get for their dollar.
Thus, each day millions of people use search engines to look for items they want to buy on the Internet. Those businesses that appear on the first page of these searches are getting 50% to 70% of the business from these customers. There is little doubt that potential customers are currently using search engines to search for the products and services your company sells. The only real question is, What are you doing to help them find you, instead of your competitors?
There are two ways to have your website appear on the first page of any search. The first is to engage in a pay-per-click campaign. The second is to appear on the first page due to free or natural search results. Getting high, natural rankings in major search engines is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to market and sell your products on the Internet.
Search engines use complex, mathematical algorithms to determine which websites are ranked high and which are not. If your website matches the criteria, you’re ranked high. If it doesn’t, then you’re not. It’s that simple.
Search engine optimization, then, is designing your website and all of your eCommerce actions so that when consumers search for keywords that are central to your company, your website will appear at the top of the search results.
For example, if your company sells running shoes (a keyword that receives 127,575 searches per month), it would be very beneficial to be one of the top websites on the search engine. If you received only a small percentage of new visitors each month from that top ranking, it would still result in a significant source of revenue.
It might help to think of it this way: At least 10 million Internet searches are performed every month within each major business category. If only 1% of those searches found your website, you would have over 100,000 new visitors to your site each month. If only 1% of those visitors purchased your products or services, you would be making more than 1,000 new sales per month. (The worldwide average is 2.5%, making these conservative estimates.)
The scope of this article is not to look at the methods behind search engine optimization. Instead, it is to look at the importance the Internet is playing in business development today and in the future. The traditional marketing schemes of the past still have their place, but advertising dollars must be allocated to Internet marketing.