What is Search Engine Optimization? A Real Life Example

Search engine optimization (SEO) is:

the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine (Oxford, 2018).

The term “search engine” means sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

So, to put it simply, SEO describes the methods used to ensure your website is displayed when users search for keywords relative to your business.

Let’s go through a real-world example to see exactly how this works and why it is such an important marketing channel for local business owners.

A magnifying glass over the word "Google".

Assume you own a barber shop in Toronto and are looking to expand your business by acquiring new customers.

You’ve also read recently that 87% of internet users have used a search engine like Google to find local products and services in the past month (eMarketer, LSA, 2017).

This gets you thinking: if your website shows up first when somebody types a common phrase into Google like “barber shop Toronto” or “best barber Toronto”, your shop would undoubtedly get tons of new customers from this alone.

So you search it yourself.

“Barber shop Toronto”.

Nope. Website doesn’t show up on the first page.

“Best barber Toronto”.

Nope. Not here either.

Knowing that websites on the first page of a Google search receive 95% of all organic web traffic (Leverage Marketing, 2017), you realize that the fact that you’re not on the first page means that there’s virtually zero visibility for your business on Google.

And no matter if you give the best haircuts in the city, have the happiest customers, or consistently receive the best reviews, this one fact still holds true:

If you’re not on the first page of Google, you’re invisible.

And in business, visibility is everything.

But just how many potential customers are you missing out on from these searches?

Let’s take a look.

Using Mangools – one of the many SEO tools we have at our disposal – we’re able to see EXACTLY how many people, per month, search the phrases “barber shop Toronto” and “best barber Toronto”.

Here’s what we discover when we analyze the keyword phrase “barber shop Toronto” for people searching within Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

Keyword search for "barber shop Toronto".

We see a graph that shows us how many people have searched this phrase into Google each month over the last 12 months:

Monthly search volumes for a keyword search.

And then we see how many times this phrase has been searched, on average, over the last 12 months:

Average 12-month search volume of a keyword phrase.

By doing this, we can now understand that:

Your business is losing out on 3,600 potential customers PER MONTH!

These are people that are ACTIVELY searching for your services!

People who want a haircut in Toronto and are trying to get one RIGHT NOW.

And they are about to pick from 1 of the 10 options shown on their screen.

Now let’s do the same thing for the phrase “best barber Toronto”.

This is what we find:

A keyword search for a Toronto query..

Monthly keyword search volumes for a Toronto keyword.

Active Business Growth keyword analysis.

These are people looking for the BEST barber shop in Toronto to cut their hair, not just any regular barber shop.

And there are, on average, 1,900 people searching for this service every single month.

Now, whether you actually ARE the best barber shop in Toronto is irrelevant in this case because your business isn’t even showing up.

Which means you’re not even an option for people searching for this service.

It would be a shame if you actually WERE the best barber shop in Toronto, because nobody would ever be able to know from this search.

Now, together with the searches for both “barber shop Toronto” and “best barber shop Toronto”, we found that a combined 5,500 people are looking for these services EACH month.

Because the intent to buy is so high with this specific phrase, there are 5,500 potential customers you’re missing out on.

5,500 potential customers that are discovering your competitors online and paying them for their services instead.

And that’s only for 2 specific searches.

Imagine we did this for 10 other keywords relevant to your business such as “mens barber shop Toronto”, “womens barber shop Toronto”, “good barbers in Toronto”, “barber shop downtown Toronto”, and so on.

These numbers add up quickly.

To make sure your website shows up for these searches, you would need to work with a search engine optimization company to ensure you are doing all of the things necessary to give you the highest chance possible of appearing in front of these piping hot, potential customers.

At this point, you should begin to see the value of SEO and why it is so incredibly important for your business.

This example is meant to give you a better understanding of what SEO is and open your eyes to the possibilities of what it can do for your top line.

Whether you’re from Santa Barbara, Edmonton, Sacramento, Arizona, Virginia or anywhere else in the world – this strategy works.

We recommend brainstorming the type of keyword phrases that you think your customers would be searching to find your business online, and see for yourself if you show up in the results of each search.

If not, we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss what you can do to fix it.

SEO may be right for you.