According to the U.S. Commerce Department, consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017, a 16.0% increase compared with $390.99 billion in 2016. That’s the highest growth rate since 2011, when online sales grew 17.5% over 2010. Forrester predicts that online sales will account for 17% of all US retail sales by 2022. And digital advertising is also growing strongly; According to Strategy Analytics, in 2017 digital advertising was up 12%, accounting for approximately 38% of overall spending on advertising, or $207.44 billion.
Search engine optimization is a key part of online marketing because search is one of the primary ways that users navigate the web. In 2014, over 2.5 trillion searches were conducted worldwide across search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and Yandex. For most websites, traffic that comes from search engines (known as "natural" or "organic" traffic) accounts for a large portion of their total traffic.
Backlinks are important for both search engines and end users. For the search engines, it helps them determine how authoritative and relevant your site is on the topic that you rank for. Furthermore, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that other external websites are endorsing your content. If many sites link to the same webpage or website, search engines can interpret that content is worth linking to, and therefore also worth ranking higher on a SERP (search engine results page). For many years, the quantity of backlinks was an indicator of a page’s popularity. But today algorithms like Google's Penguin update, were created to help with other ranking factors; pages are ranked higher based on the quality of the links that they are getting from external sites and less on quantity.
Many of the classic SEO elements still hold a lot of weight, things like incoming links and internal structures so we’re having to optimize for those but at the same time most see the writing on the wall – AI is pushing its way into the algorithm and with it an increased ability for Google to understand a user’s intent and whether a page meets that intent and deliver that as a result that irrespective of many of those classic signals.
The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Although social media and other types of traffic can generate visits to your website, search engines are the primary method of navigation for most Internet users. This is true whether your site provides content, services, products, information, or just about anything else.