What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Why is SEO important?

If you still consider the Internet to be a trivial part of your overall marketing strategy then you are in for a shock! You are living in the dark ages and the sooner you realize your ignorance the better it will be for your brand. Google recently announced there are 100 Million Internet users in India and more importantly these people are just 1 Click away from making a purchase (or purchase decision). SEO is an important part of the Internet Marketing strategy. Consider this, 87% of all clicks on the search results page are organic, only 13% click on the ads. If your brand is not on the first page of Google when a user conducts a search then your brand is as good as invisible. In fact let me highlight the importance of being in the top 5 search results, 73% of all the organic clicks are within the top 5 results.

So what is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving visibility of your website so that your web pages appear at the top of search engines for targeted keyword queries, resulting in increased brand awareness, qualified traffic and revenue. SEO brings in “organic”(unpaid) traffic to your website and is not to be confused with Google Adwords (the ads you see on the top or right of the search results). SEO is certainly a complex undertaking as Google uses over 200 variables in its algorithm to determine the order of search results for a query. To further complicate matters Google made over 500 changes in their algorithm in the past year. Therefore in order for your SEO strategy to deliver results takes time. It is a long term strategy and needs to be given 6 months to a year depending on your industry & website. Lets consider a real life example of how we have effectively used SEO to leverage the power of the Internet for our client Olive Telecom. As you will recall Samsung recently launched their Tablet PC -Galaxy Tab & have spent crores marketing the device in India. Imagine you are looking at purchasing a tablet for yourself. One of the first things you do is to get on Google and start searching for tablets which suit your budget or requirements. You might type the following keywords as part of your research: “Tablet PC”, “Tablet PC in India” or any of the myriad variations. When Google displays the results for your query you will notice our client Olive as one of the top search results. Immediately we have made the Olive Pad a part of the consideration set of the consumer. His next step would be to click on the result and investigate the product to check whether it fits his requirements. After finishing the research you might choose to complete the transaction online or go into a store to complete your purchase. Further the brand recognition that is delivered is of immense value since multiple variations of the search the potential customer will keep running into the Olive brand online. Using SEO we have made Olive a very successful competitor in the Tablet PC space.

So where are we headed?

Economics 101- Let us look at Supply and Demand: Supply – Google is the supplier (they publish the search results in response to a query) Demand – Your website along with thousands of your competitors who are competing for the same keywords. 2006 – 20 Million Internet users in India, 2011 -100 Million Internet users There has been a 5X jump in the number of Internet users in the past 5 years. With the easy availability of wireless broadband, the coming 3G boom, the lowering of hardware prices for computing devices, the prevalence of smart phones & tablet PCs it is predicted that the number of Internet users will reach 200 Million within the next couple of years. As the number of Internet users increases businesses will naturally follow them online. Therefore as the number of websites increases (read Demand increases) but Supply (read Google search results page) remains the same, the importance of SEO will rise exponentially. Thousands of websites competing for a spot in the top 10. Bring out the boxing gloves and get ready for a fight! From the above it should be lucid that Marketers need to recalibrate their marketing budgets and factor in SEO as an important part of their Digital marketing mix!

This article was also published in 4Ps Magazine

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