SEO is ever present, yet also fluid and changing – making it a challenging issue for online companies. In order to be competitive in 2014, business owners must consider the ways in which search engine optimization rules change and progress to get the most out of it – both now and in the future. The goals of SEO remain the same; however, since Google is constantly changing their rules, the methods used to obtain those goals might have to change as well. In order for SEO to be effective, companies must determine their goals.

Effects of Visibility

Visibility is a simple idea, although implementing this idea can be complicated. A business must first be able to be seen online by the public before worrying about any other online issues. The challenge is ensuring that a company’s website is visible to the right people – potential customers.

For a business to improve their SEO – as well as their online presence, reputation, and profitability – they must make whatever changes are necessary in order to be seen by the right audience. This requires the skilled use of SEO, reputation development, marketing, and other techniques. Once the main goal of the company has been accomplished, then increased sales, reputation, profit, and even more visibility will begin to follow.

Increasing Conversions

There is a theory in search engine optimization called the purchase/buying funnel, which illustrates how buyers are conversions that result from wide exposure. The steps through the funnel go from the widest part (awareness), to the small opening at the bottom (retained customers).

Since the funnel goes from top to bottom, that wide audience at the top begins to thin out. What this means in terms of conversions is the many who become aware of a product are reduced to the few who are actually interested in it. This number further reduces to those who genuinely want or need the product or service being sold – and then decreases once more to those who make a purchase.

It is easy to see how critical exposure is, since most of the wide audience will not make a purchase. Through the thinning process, various SEO marketing techniques can be implemented to continually find potential buyers. This may even entice those who did not initially intend to make a purchase into buying the product.

Brand Awareness, Reputation, and Need

Awareness must create interest and leave a positive impression on potential conversions. In order for a company to be chosen by a buyer, it is essential that the offered product is easily recognized and the company has an excellent reputation. For this to be effective, continual marketing using various tailored campaigns designed to appeal to potential buyers is necessary. Once a buyer has viewed the large pool of online businesses for a reputable company and desired product, they can proceed towards making a purchase.

Retaining Customers

The above cycle does not simply end with a sale; in fact, customer retention is the final step of the buying funnel. It is essential that a buyer be completely satisfied with a purchase, as a retained customer does something very interesting. Happy customers re-enter the funnel even while remaining at the bottom of the funnel. This action of re-entering the funnel reflects increased customer trust, reputation, and brand recognition, which creates even more awareness. This is what drives SEO.

There is nothing new about search engine optimization; it is something that will never go away. To enjoy a more successful 2014 business year, companies should look at existing SEO methods in a new light, using the ideas mentioned above. By following the funnel concept and doing whatever is necessary to attract the largest audience possible, a company can determine what works best to guide potential customers through the funnel to the bottom. Make the funnel spout as wide as possible this year and reap the rewards!

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