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Why Your Business Will Fail in 2021 Without SEO

By Tony Faison on May 5, 2021

Have you been getting by without paying serious attention to local SEO? Some businesses do. Maybe they’re located in areas where competition is minimal. Perhaps they have a great referral program that helps them attract new customers even with a website that’s not optimized. Whatever the reason, they’re doing fine without SEO.

If this sounds like you, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ve survived. The bad news is that you’ve been lucky, and all luck runs out eventually. In 2021, SEO is more important than ever before. Here’s what you need to know.

SEO by the Numbers

Sometimes a statistic is worth a thousand words, and that’s absolutely the case with SEO. Here are some 2020 numbers that illustrate why SEO is essential in 2021.

  • 92.96% of all traffic comes from one of these three sources: Google search, Google image search, or Google Maps.
  • 53.3% of traffic to websites originates with organic search.
  • Less than 1% (0.78%) of Google searchers look beyond the first page of results,
  • SEO drives more than 10 times as much traffic as social media content.

None of this means that your social media marketing is a wasted effort or that you shouldn’t keep posting videos on YouTube. What it does mean is that the time to ignore SEO is over. Almost all organic search traffic in the world happens thanks to effective SEO.

Without SEO, Potential Customers Won’t Be Able to Find You

Online marketing requires good SEO, both on your website and any place your business appears on the web. It increases your company’s visibility and brand recognition, and without it, potential customers may not even know your company exists.

It’s also worth noting that your SEO must account for the searcher’s intent. If someone is looking to buy your product now, you need to make sure they know they can do that on your site. That means optimizing for words that indicate intent such as “buy” and “compare.” Optimizing for keyword intent is an essential element of SEO.

The numbers from Google tell the story. In desktop searches, the top organic search result gets 32% of all clicks; in mobile search, the number drops a bit – but only to 26.9%. That means that if you’re not prioritizing SEO on an ongoing basis, you are likely to miss out on the organic traffic that could bring new customers to your business.

For example, if you run a home remodeling service in Atlanta Georgia you’ll want to rank locally for keywords with intent like: “kitchen remodeling Atlanta” because optimizing for keyword intent and listed on the first page of Google, your website could be seen (depending on the search volume for your chosen keywords) by 400-500 searchers who intend to buy. Other “intent” other examples include: 

“___ near me” “____ reviews” “best____” “____ quote” and “___deals”. 


Good on page SEO will ensure that your company website appears on the first page of Google search results. However, off-page SEO has just as much to do with your visibility online.

As of 2020, Google has confirmed that PageRank, which evaluates the quality of backlinks, is still part of its search algorithm. It’s essential to make link building (and link review) part of your SEO strategy in 2021.

Effective SEO helps your company build a strong and consistent brand presence across the web. You’ll have greater brand recognition and more authority if your company information is consistent, whether it appears on your website, in an industry publication, in an online directory, or on your social media pages. Consistency builds trust and consumers are more likely to buy from companies they trust than from companies they don’t.

SEO Creates a Seamless Customer Experience Across Channels

Creating a seamless omnichannel experience for both potential customers and existing customers is a must for every business in 2021. People who are in search of products or services like yours may find information about you in a variety of places other than your website.

  • Your social media pages and posts
  • Your online directory listings
  • Your review listings
  • Your YouTube videos
  • Your emails and tweets
  • Your app

When someone encounters your brand for the first time somewhere other than your website, they are likely to look for your website. You need to be sure that your optimization – both on your site and in your online listings and content – is cohesive and seamless. That means using the same keywords in a way that allows people to find you wherever you are online.

Your cross-channel experience relates directly to both on-page and off-page SEO. Your customers should feel confident that they understand your business and its products or services wherever they find it.

SEO is Constantly Changing

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with their SEO is thinking that they can optimize once and forget about it for years at a time. SEO is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor.

There are many reasons that SEO can change. Back in 2014, the Mobilegeddon update to Google’s algorithm made mobile search a priority. Companies that weren’t agile in responding had their search rank destroyed when it was released. 

As of 2020, more searches are done using voice than by typing keywords. We already mentioned that in the section about outdated SEO, but you must constantly be aware of how people are finding you.

The most recent example has to do with how current events can change search intention virtually overnight. The COVID-19 pandemic went from feeling like a distant problem in February of 2020 to something that affected every person in the United States (and the world) by the middle of March. 

Local businesses took the biggest hit with COVID-19 lockdowns. Owners and managers had to adapt to offer things like home delivery, curbside pickup, and virtual consultations. People who didn’t have an agile SEO strategy already were at a disadvantage because they had to scramble to update their web content and help customers find their new COVID-related services and products.

As vaccines roll out, it is reasonable to expect that the businesses that had to adapt to quarantines and lockdowns in 2020 will have to adapt yet again to whatever the future brings. We may see a true return to business as usual or new concerns about public health may lead to an as-yet-understood hybrid situation where businesses continue to offer both in-person and contact-free services.

The bottom line is that without an agile, well-thought-out SEO strategy in 2021, many small businesses will fail. Your best bet is to research keywords and SEO strategies now and plan to revisit your strategy as the year progresses. Building in agility to your strategy will enable you to stay on top of whatever 2021 brings.

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