Importance of SEO: Truth About Higher Search Engine Rankings

Why Google Position is Vital to Company Success: Truth About Higher Search Engine Rankings

In order to understand the importance of SEO, especially the absolute necessity of being on Google Page 1, let’s take a look at a comparable offline advertising campaign . . .

Importance of SEOPicture this: You and your business partners have just decided your business, a chain of brake and tire shops, needs to up its game. You’ll push for more business primarily through a stronger media presence and more aggressive marketing and promotions.

You’ll have “traditional” ad media staples, such as newspaper and radio, as well as some pop-ups and a special landing page on your website, but since your business is vehicle based, y’all figure a billboard on the main freeway is a perfect way to capture target market attention and get them into your shops.

You contact your pricey downtown, self-styled Madison Avenue-type ad agency, and good yes men that they are, they agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of centering your campaign around the most coveted billboard buy in town. They nod in unison so quickly that they create a breeze in the room. They have their best and brightest design a “brilliant campaign,” with a beautiful and bright billboard to be positioned right on the busiest curve in the whole town. The colors pop, it’s easy to read, it has a great and easy-to-follow call to action: you name it, it’s got it, baby!

They’ll produce radio, print, pop-ups, and landing page that tie in perfectly with your billboard campaign, with a matching call to action.

Wow — this is so exciting!

You can already see people clamoring to squeeze two-and-three-at-a-time through the doors, their only real dilemma whether to insert or swipe, one after another: insert, insert, swipe, insert, insert, swipe . . . like a new Broadway musical called Profits!Why is SEO important anyway?

“The campaign will start July One” (your agency’s account rep says “one,” not “first,” because he’s a hipster-type), he reports to you with no attempts to hide his glee — after all, he gets a nice little chunk of the $22,345 you just plunked down to start this “ad blitz,” which is more cool agency talk.

Maybe now he can afford a pair of socks? Nah . . . hipsters don’t wear socks.

He gushes: “The billboard will be on the freeway right where Main St. and 6th converge, the ‘absolutiest’ busiest part of town!” And, BTW, the ‘absolutiest’ priciest.

You tell Siri to alert you to look for the billboard on your way to work on July 1. Then you turn your attention to other matters, confident in your ad agency’s stable of studs and studettes.  

By mid June, you’re setting up your stores to handle the anticipated onslaught of business: extra technicians and customer service reps, more inventory, more donuts and coffee for customers.

This is gonna be great!

The Big Day!

July “One” is finally here!. No breakfast — your stomach flutters with butterflies of excitement. To add to the glory is a gorgeous summer’s day. Nobody will be distracted by slippery driving conditions or smeary rain on windshields. Before you get in your car, you smile, look up at the sky, and say, “Let the games begin!” You whistle an old song, then add lyrics: “We’re in the money, we’re in the money . . . “

Now, on the road to work, you approach that highly-coveted bend in the road, wondering if you can sneak a look at other drivers beholding your billboard. Will it look as good as it did on the graphic the ad agency emailed you?

No! It will look even better, huge and vibrant!

You pass 3rd Boulevard . . . now 5th, the steering wheel a little slippery under your sweating fingers as you approach that prized curve at 6th. You turn off the radio to give your full attention to the rapture!

You’re close enough now that cars a quarter mile ahead are already soaking the vibrant rays of your billboard, chomping at their steering wheels to visit your shops. You look at their rear windows in approval and excitement. Here’s the curve, and . . . and . . . what the? That’s not the billboard we agreed on — it’s the wrong color, the wrong picture, the wrong . . . the wrong company!


Does SEO Help?It’s not even an ad for us!” You actually say this out loud. Very loud. Like with aneurysm-popping volume. In your confusion and anger, you almost forget to turn your wheels along the curve, just about clipping the green F-150 next to you, a probable future customer of Jake’s Brakes, because that’s what the billboard is advertising — your top competition!

“Jake! Arrrggghh! That snake! How did he pull this one off?”

As you pass the billboard, you look again in the rearview mirror in utter disbelief, then crane your neck around to look through your rear window, as though you could see through the back of the billboard, wave a wand, and reverse this disaster.

“Is this a nightmare? That’s it! I didn’t really wake up this morning!”

You slap yourself, pinch, bite your lip really hard, but apparently you’re actually up and this is actually happening . . . actually.

You again almost run into a stereotypical blond in a white convertible Rabbit. Or is it a Scirocco?

“Hey, we’ve got brakes and tires for both . . . and so does Jake! Ugh!”

In seconds, your euphoria has turned to “how do I explain this to my partners,”  and wondering if you’ll set a decibel record yelling at that agency rep. You’re gripping the steering wheel so hard it’s about to crack. You take the first exit, find a parking lot, pinch the bridge of your nose, and have a good cry.

“Wait . . . What?

“Oh, I cannot wait to get my hands on that stupid agency guy! What in the world is going on here? We just paid over fifteen grand for . . . nothing?”

After you’ve dried your tears on your shirt sleeve, you get the agency on the line.

“Hey, Mike,” he says, all chipper. “What’s up?”

“What’s up? You don’t know ‘what’s up’?”

“Um . . . well, today’s July One, and it’s the launch day for your campaign, but you don’t sound pleased about something . . . um?”

“Not puh-leazed? Not puh-leazed? I just drove past the curve by 6th and Main, fully expecting to see our new billboard. Instead, I see Jake’s Brakes!”

Aside from an uncomfortable gulp followed by a throat clearing, you hear only silence, broken finally by, “Well, um, Jake uses the Morton Agency, and, er, well . . . they have certain advantages.”

“Oh, really? Like what?”

“Um, Morton is better at getting their clients onto the front of the best billboards.” He no longer sounds very hip.

“Huh? What do you mean? I paid good money to have that billboard selection!!”

“Well, yes, I know. Um, sir, you see, your billboard ad is indeed up on that billboard off Main and 6th. It’s just . . . well . . . it’s just under Jake’s ad . . .”

“Wait . . . what? They took our money and then put our ad underneath Jake’s?”

It’s a good thing you’re parked because you’d for sure crash somewhere otherwise. And crashing doesn’t seem to matter now because you’re ready to find the nearest bridge and jump off.

Seems Implausible, Right?

You’re thinking this is nuts, aren’t you? No way this would happen in the real world. No way your brand new billboard ad would be pasted over by another.

Completely implausible.

True, in the world of traditional advertising, your agency would lose all its clients if your ad was covered over by another.

Crazy, right? But know what?

This happens all the time in growing-more-vital-and-important-by-the-minute Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — millions of times every day. And it’s very simple: it’s called, “Being on Page 2 or Lower, Google Search.” No, that’s not a new movie, but perhaps it should be, and R-rated, because it contains some inappropriate scenes, a few expletives, and if it’s happening to you, you’re probably feeling naked, vulnerable, and helpless.

You can be on Page 3. Or Page 57 — it doesn’t really matter because according to most viable research, if you’re not on Page 1, nobody will see you. Without those vital higher search engine rankings, it is just as though you are underneath another company’s billboard ad!

Here’s what doesn’t matter in the SEO game:

  • How beautiful your website is, how provocative and cleverly written your landing page, how efficiently gravitational your funnels
  • How much better your products and services  
  • How long you’ve been in business
  • How happy your customers
  • Your price-match guarantee and ironclad warranties
  • How sleek your logo and branding tools
  • How much you’ve paid either your ad agency, your fancy SEO agency, or in-house digital person or team

To Be, or Not to Be

The simple, hard-to-swallow truth is, if you’re not on Page 1, nobody is going to see you — except maybe your mother — maybe. In the non-mincing words of SEO for Growth authors John Jantsch and Phil Singleton, “you don’t exist.” [Emphasis added.]

How’s that for a slap of reality right in the kisser?

Especially if you’re a smaller business in that situation, your small business SEO must be improved — drastically.

Scott Paxton, founder of Salt Lake City SEO firm Paxton Agency, and recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in SEO, points out, “Often we hear people get excited that they are ranking on Page 2 of Google. But there is nothing to get excited about. Rarely does anyone venture past Page 1, and if they do, they’re probably not a good lead.”

The Utter Significance of Page One, Above the Fold

Although SEO has been in existence almost since the onset of online search engines, the world of sales, marketing, advertising, and PR is still, in many ways, steeped in “old school” methods of reaching potential customers.

Conventional advertising need not be totally discarded. Paxton says, “Traditional advertising has its place and can be good for brand awareness, events, and politics.” He points out also that methods such as print, billboards, TV, and radio “can be a good way to supplement SEO, because when people see you appear in a Google search, they can already have brand awareness and confidence in your product.”

Best-selling business writer Seth Godin points outs advertising has changed with the advent of Google and other online tools, and how much more efficient effective small business SEO is. He and his proponents refer to the old-school methods as “interruption marketing.”

Interruptive Ads vs. Customer-directed

Think about your own media habits. Let’s say you’re sitting in your den on your perfectly-worn-in easy chair, munching on popcorn and watching your favorite sitcom. The show is interrupted by the ever-present commercial break. You don’t really want the show to pause, but if you’re watching live, you have no choice. Chances are thin you’re shopping right now for that macho-dipped Toyota Tundra, but maybe someday you will be looking for an oversized pickup, and when you do . . .

As an advertiser, are you really interested in spending thousands, over and over again, just trying to convince people not currently looking for your goods to change their minds, all while reaching a miniscule amount of people specifically looking for your products? (Not to mention the fact most people are slightly annoyed by the commercial break, and use it as an opp to use the bathroom or top off their drink.) Wouldn’t you be more interested right now in reaching people wanting to buy what you sell?

There is a great evolution away from spending hoards of money just to nag people to consider your product to a much more positive, consumer-friendly approach, what might be called “Customer-directed Marketing.”

Jantsch and Singleton write: “There are two general styles that determine a company’s cost of customer acquisition and overall return on investment: the older, outbound tactic of demand creation, and the newer inbound methods of demand capture.”

Old School: Demand Creation

In the “old days” — that is, Darren Stevens and Mad Men and all that, before widespread use of the internet  and Google, advertisers’ primary method was through what Jantsch and Singleton describe as “various forms or outbound marketing and mass-market advertising.” Out of necessity, this approach requires massive creativity in order for messages to be noticed and to cut through the noise of other ads. Such creative talent is quite expensive, not to mention the outlay required to buy space on TV, radio, magazines, outdoor, and so forth. And after all that money is spent, they are trying to “spur sales from people who are not on the purchase path,” a conversion which could take years, if at all.

“New” School: Demand Capture

The advent of the internet and social media has given smarter, smaller companies a gargantuan advantage in competing with the big advertising dollars of larger companies. Jantsch and Singleton note, “It drives big agencies crazy that nameless, brandless companies can leverage such a small budget to generate so much new business.”

How does this happen? Demand capture, as the name implies, is the art of finding those “searching for your product right now,” says Paxton. Jantsch and Singleton describe this process as “harvesting demand created by other companies.” [1]

They continue . . .

“SEO is all about catching buyers when they are already in the purchase process, while at the same time leveraging the marketing dollars of your competition.”

SEO for Small BusinessLet’s say you are a pest control company in Salt Lake City, Utah. You’re relatively new, with a modest marketing budget, perhaps only a few thousand dollars per month. You have two well-budgeted competitors: the first one likes radio, and for our example it’s early fall, so they’re warning people about nasty rodents that will seek the comfort of your cozy home as the weather cools. They have a spot featuring a couple of Brooklyn-accented mice who are discussing tasty Italian foods they’ll feast upon in the Rossi’s house. Your second big competitor favors outdoor, and they currently have rather gruesome and graphic billboards featuring scary-looking bugs munching the winter away in your pantry.

Having a great SEO strategy that brings higher search engine rankings means you can not only play alongside your six- and seven-figure ad budget competitors for a fraction of what they’re spending — you can actually grab business away from them! The reason is when a potential consumer is prodded about the hazards of pests, they will likely use Google to find the best provider, the best prices, coupons, what’s closest to their home, reviews, etc. If they’re busy with something when exposed to the ad, they might not start the process of finding a company until several hours, or even days, later, at which point they may have forgotten the name of the advertised company.

Where Higher Search Engine Rankings Get Really Vital

Once prospective buyers start the online search, they are actively seeking. Whatever provoked them to search, and no matter which company paid for the ads that provoked them, the battle now becomes a matter of who appears on Page 1 of the Google search. 95% of searches begin and end on the first Google page. Further, there are drastic drops from positions one to two, two to three, and so forth. The first 5 positions account for approximately ⅔ of all clicks, so if you’re in Positions 6-10, below the fold. you’re already approaching the dregs. So ultimate goal is Position #1. Top positions by far attract the most inquiries, and by far, the most sales and new customers!

Let the Big Boys Pay for Your New Customers!

If your agency’s small business SEO strategy is good enough to catapult you over the big-budget competitors, then their traditional, expensive ads are paying to create the demand that you will capture with your superior SEO! Their low ROI (Return on Investment) traditional advertising becomes your high ROI victory.

Nothing is More Important Than Top Position on Page One

So, while traditional advertising still is important (to build brand, name recognition, superiority over competition, authority, etc.), its importance has been supplanted by viable, effective, profit-pulling SEO, which has helped to even the playing field, allowing smaller companies to compete with deep-pocketed competitors. According to Paxton, “While methods such as TV, radio, print, and direct mail have their place, the goal for most businesses is to increase sales and revenue. There is no better way to increase sales than to get in front of buyers searching for your exact product or service.”

Paxton points out that much of advertising “uses a disruptive approach in which they are blasting their horns in hopes that someone might want or need their services. SEO, on the other hand, gets your business right in front of buyers who are ready and eager to use your services.”  [2]

Demand Capture via SEO = Better ROI

Because of the efficiency in reaching those looking to purchase, Paxton says, “SEO will always give better ROI, simply because you’re getting in front of buyers rather than shouting at people who don’t want or need your services.”

Page One: Nothing Else Matters

Paxton says, “Getting results from SEO requires a competitive approach that will push your site above your competitors. The goal should always be Page 1, Position 1. The top spot not only gives your brand more credibility — it drives in as many as double the leads of Position 2.”

He concludes: “All businesses should push to be on the top of Page 1. Nothing else matters.”

So, if your ad agency is steering you in the outdated-yet-still-expensive mode of demand creation with traditional advertising methods, at the expense of more frugal and effective methods of demand capture through SEO and SEO-related methods, then it’s probably time to say goodbye to them, find a good, reputable SEO agency, and increase your market share, paid for largely by your competition.


Carl Baumeister
About Author
Located in Salt Lake City, Carl has an extensive history of successful campaigns in advertising, marketing, and PR. He specializes in helping businesses grow through effective search optimization. He can usually be found hanging out with his wife and kids, reading a great book, enjoying sports, or playing guitar or piano.
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