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Why is search engine marketing so important?

In 2013, US businesses spent a staggering $20.6 billion on search marketing, according to the Winterberry Group. Why spend so much? Simple: because search engines give those businesses a prime opportunity to put their products, services or brands in front of a vast and ever-growing market of prospective customers at the precise time those customers are looking for exactly what the business is selling.

That is a pretty evocative marketing proposition – especially when you consider the volumes involved. During the month of December 2013, in the United States alone, search engines fielded more than 18.3 billion search queries (comScore qSearch). That’s more than two and a half searches for every living person on the planet in a single month! Some important points to note:

  • 70–80 per cent of users ignore the paid ads on any given search, focusing on the organic results. ● 75 per cent of users never scroll past the first page of search results. ● Companies that blog have 434 per cent more indexed pages. Companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.
  • SEO leads have a 14.6 per cent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 per cent close rate. ● While this varies between different verticals, a study from Slingshot SEO shows that of Google searches 18 per cent of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10 per cent of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 7 per cent of organic clicks go to the #3 position.

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How do search engines work? Before you start optimizing your site for the search engines, it makes sense to know how they work. Not the detailed technical ‘nuts-and-bolts’ of it all – just a high-level understanding of what makes a search engine tick. Knowing what the search engines are trying to achieve, and how they go about doing it, is at the heart of good SEO.

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