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August 12, 2018   |   6 min read

Why Brands Should Take Time to Understand SEO, Not Undervalue It

It will take more than a bruised ego to take search engine optimization out of the game.

A few weeks ago, search engine optimization was taken down a few pegs after a survey conducted by Clutch revealed that “SEO was the least popular digital marketing channel.” Social media marketing took the top spot with 81% of [polled] companies responding that they used it, while SEO came in at only a 44% use rate.

Something does not compute.

With approximately 51% of all site traffic coming from organic search, a solid SEO strategy is key to connecting with a large segment of your audience. So why the low-ball score?

In my experience, a lack of SEO love is most often fostered by a lack of understanding. And I can totally appreciate this. Today, proper site optimization practices are intricate and always changing. Ten years ago, when all it took to yield results was stuffing exact match keywords into page copy, I’m willing to bet SEO would have clinched a top score.

But as intricate as the solution is now, I believe in the ongoing power and importance of organic search for brands large and small. So to help bridge the knowledge gap and raise that usage score, let’s start by taking an honest look at what SEO is not and more importantly, what it is.

Let’s set the record straight. SEO is NOT:

All about keywords.

It is a balance of technical, keyword/content and off-site optimizations. While keywords are indeed a cornerstone of SEO, they should not comprise the entire strategy. After all, what good is meaningful, keyword-rich content if no one sees it? Visibility of/engagement with content is less likely for sites that function poorly or do not hold any authority due to lack of quality backlinks.

Meant to be measured based on keyword rankings.

It is (or rather, should be) measured based on the quantity and quality of organic traffic it yields, and more importantly, the engagement and conversions it inspires. But while keyword rankings do not make good SEO KPIs, they should be used to help drive your organic strategy by way of prioritization, optimization and content elements research.

A one-time thing.     

It is a digital solution that should always be catered to. Because it can go stale. With continuous changes being made to Google’s algorithm, organic trends, search engine results pages and competitors’ sites, SEO demands a constant state of adaptation. What’s more? Search engines like to see a steady stream of meaningful updates – signals that a site is being well-maintained.


It is a channel that takes time for changes to penetrate and yield results. Except for a few items, most organic updates require time to take hold. Patience is a must-have. Search engines are busy beavers, tasked with recognizing changes made across billions of webpages – so don’t be surprised or disappointed if those content recommendations you implemented two days ago haven’t taken effect yet.

An exact science.

It is a lot like the scientific method, though. While there are certainly sets of established practices to follow, SEO is best when approached by making observations, forming hypotheses, conducting experiments and drawing conclusions based on data. Strategies that prove successful should be replicated while those that do not should be refined. And the truth is, not all experiments work – trial and error is an aspect of SEO, but one that you shouldn’t be afraid of. It’s a natural part of the optimization process (and can even be part of the fun).

One final thought – organic search is NOT [entirely] a choice.

It doesn’t require a conscious decision to set up an AdWords account and a budget. It doesn’t hinge on the choice to create a company Facebook page. It doesn’t take a focused effort to send out emails through a marketing automation platform. It’s already activated - a digital channel that’s available to all web-surfers across the globe. And a popular one at that.

Search is here to stay

The only choice brands have, is whether they want to capitalize on this “free” form of potential site traffic. And with only 44% of companies currently making an effort, choosing to invest in SEO could arguably be, the smartest choice to make in today’s digital world.

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