The Importance of SEO for Economic Development Websites

April 12, 2024
An executive searching for economic development websites.

Every economic development organization knows that in today’s digital age, a website is a necessity. In fact, according to our most recent Winning Strategies report, executives and site selectors, our target audience, cite websites and the internet as the most effective marketing technique. They also cite economic development websites and the internet as one of their top sources of information about a location. 

From providing information about your workforce to incentive information, your economic development website is home to everything a prospective business or site selector needs to know about your location and what it has to offer. Many EDOs ensure they have a functional website but often stop working on it once they launch the site.   

Why Does Search Engine Optimization Matter for Economic Development? 

Corporate executives and site selectors frequently use the internet and search during their decision-making journey, so it’s crucial that they find your EDO’s website during every stage of their search. If your economic development organization’s website doesn’t have an SEO marketing strategy, it’s less likely to rank for relevant Google search results. 

According to SEMRush, the top search result on Google receives around 22% of clicks while the tenth search result only receives around 2%. Simply put, the lower your organization’s website falls on search engine results pages, the less likely that business decision-makers will click on your site. Read on to learn about the power of SEO for your EDO’s website. 

Visibility in the Digital Decision-Making Journey

A site selector or business decision maker’s journey usually begins with the screening phase, before narrowing down to the short list. From their earliest research to the analysis of their finalists, it’s important your website appears as a result in their relevant search queries.  

To improve your online visibility in search, it’s important to proactively optimize your site with content that answers the questions and queries decision makers are searching for at each step of the journey. However, it needs to be written in a way that is friendly for search engines, so that you increase the odds of standing out on the results page.  

By focusing your organic keyword research and strategy on what decision makers are looking for, a properly optimized site has a better chance of reaching them at each step in their journey. All those answers and resources help your site increase its online presence and the likelihood of ending up on the short list.   

Authority & Audience Engagement 

Optimizing websites for search engines also has benefits beyond just the position on the SERP. Sites that rank in the top positions tend to get the most clicks, which leads to more backlinks from other sites. Moreover, these votes of confidence boost a site’s authority score, which, in turn, helps improve SEO. 

What’s good for search engines also tends to be what’s good for users, including executives and site selectors. Creating search engine optimized content provides more value to users by answering their questions more thoroughly. As a direct result, audience engagement metrics increase as SEO programs continue.  

Competitive Advantage

A website doesn’t always have SEO built into it. Building out optimized content is a strategic process that can be separate from the initial website build. It’s also an ongoing process, where consistent changes and improvements can lead to long-lasting results. However, many sites launch without economic development SEO experts, or even SEO experts, leaving the site to run without proper optimization.   

By choosing to prioritize SEO efforts in your marketing budget and making consistent and intentional improvements, EDOs can build deep equity into their websites that will give a continuous competitive advantage over sites that aren’t actively working on SEO. Search Engines and algorithms are always changing and having an SEO strategy in place will help sites stay out in front of an evolving landscape.   

Sustainable & Cost-Effective Investment 

Paid ads can generate a lot of traffic very quickly, and it’s easier to directly see the impact of ads. You can clearly see the dollar amount of ad spend which drove a specific amount of additional traffic to your site. However, that traffic stops as soon as paid ads stop. SEO is always working for your site.  

A solid SEO foundation can continue to drive high-quality organic traffic to your site and can be a cost-effective way to support all traditional and digital marketing efforts, including paid advertising, content marketing and social media. Building SEO equity is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, it’s important to not get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Positive change happens over time, and these efforts will continue to work for you around the clock. 

Just like paid ads, an effective SEO marketing plan provides measurable results and KPIs for your internal stakeholders beyond just website traffic. As SEO improves, so will metrics like impressions, CTRs, engagement rate, and number of pages per session.   

Want to learn more about how to optimize your EDO’s website for search engines? Get in touch with Carly Steele Johnson, Senior Director, SEM & Media at [email protected] to learn how your site can gain better organic visibility with business decision makers. 

Written by

Carly Steele Johnson

Senior Director, SEM & Media