How does SEO work? And why is it such a powerful marketing tool?

People tend to think that SEO is a simple process: you enter a search query, click on a result, and make a purchase. But the reality is much more complex. People search for things because they have an emotional need that needs to be met.

For example, they may be feeling lonely, or they may need to find a solution to a problem. When they enter a search query, they are presented with a list of results. If your brand appears in those results, there is a chance that the prospect will click on your listing. But even if they do click on your listing, there is no guarantee that they will purchase from you. The cycle repeats itself until the prospect finally decides to make a purchase.

At this point, the prospect either does one of 2 things:

– They search for your brand because they remember you.

– The previous searches have altered their memory architecture and the prospect has chosen you.

Or, they conduct more purchase intent searches and see you again. This time they remember you and then purchase. At this final crucial stage, the competition has a chance to win them over with an offer of some form – free, extra, discount, etc.

Your prospect’s memory is fragile and not as durable as we like to think which is why it’s important to keep your business top of mind. Memory decay is real, and as a result, showing up once will not win the race. The race is to mentally connect your business to a solution for the prospect’s emotional pain point.

You have a choice.

Either pay to show up every time, knowing the prospect is highly unlikely to convert, or you use SEO to leverage Google’s code to show your business for free. Brands grow through a combination of mental availability and purchase availability and SEO is one of the few channels that can do both.

Some say that the winning combination for online marketing is a 60/40 split between SEO and PPC. I tend to agree with this idea, but others may have different opinions. The bottom of the online marketing funnel can be difficult to target with SEO because it is usually full of high-authority websites that are tough to compete with.

However, the workaround is to focus on the top and middle of the funnel with SEO and then use PPC to target the bottom. Many people in the SEO community may disagree with this approach, but I think it’s a smart, long-term strategy.

If you’re only interested in conversions at the bottom of the funnel, then yes, you’ll probably end up converting more. But that’s not really growth, is it? You need to be thinking about top-of-the-funnel stuff too – like brand searches and market share. Otherwise, you’re just treading water.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. But that’s how SEO works. And if it’s not working for you, the first place you should look is your budget. You might be surprised at what you find. It’s all about correct allocation and share of search. That’s what SEO is all about.

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