At this point in 2017, SEO has been around for a relatively long time and most people know what it is. However, I am still confronted by the common question of, "Why Should I Pay For SEO?" or "Is SEO worth it?". My personal favorite involves conversations like this:
SEO Skeptic: My website is awesome but no one is visiting it, do you know why?
Me: Well are you paying for ongoing SEO?
SEO Skeptic: No, it's on my list after I get more business through my website.
Me: Enjoy digging your grave!
Just kidding, my external dialogue is much more polite and my internal exponentially more savage.
SEO Is Not The Solution To Everything
I am not arrogant or ignorant enough to say SEO is more important than GDD, Digital Branding, or other crucial elements of digital marketing. In fact, I am a huge advocate of implementing an digital marketing campaign if you really want to compete in today's market and turn your business around. However, if you want traffic in the long-run, you need SEO and relevant content.
Let's assume you have a stream of relevant content getting published, which is awesome, but without SEO you're only getting a small percentage of traffic that you could be receiving. On the other hand, if you are limited in your content, there is a limit to optimizing what you have.
The difference between publishing relevant content, that is optimized versus un-optimized, is the difference between pages 1-3 and being in the invisible depths of the millions of Google results.
This brings me to one of the common concerns of some SEO skeptics:
Does SEO only optimize your website for search engines?
Yes, but not really. Even if SEO only encompassed optimization for Google, Yahoo, and Bing it would be worth it.
Think about it. How often do you 'Google It'? How do you think visitors who don't directly type in you web address usually get to your site? That's right, they usually Google It and SEO gets you as close to the top of the search results as possible. That alone is worth it to me. Sure, you can have referral sources, which is often in the realms of SEO, social media, PPC, and others; but organic traffic has not only the most potential for traffic but also the traffic that can actually turn into customers.
Optimizing your website and its content means that the search engine algorithms will give it the opportunity to be discovered by people on Google. However, optimizing your content only for search engines will hurt your rankings in the long run. This is because you also want to make sure your content is relevant to the humans and aliens who will read it. Make sure robots, humans, and aliens will all love your content.
If you have optimized content, your odds of being shared on social media also increases because people share things they find on Google. Let's look at an example.
SEO Cost Analysis Example
You have invented the most comfortable office chair with lumbar support that costs $500 each. With each sale, you make about $100 in profits. If you Google: most comfortable office chair with lumbar support under $1000, you will see that there are 2,440,000 results competing for that keyword which represents you product perfectly.
In fact, about 1600 people search for the most comfortable office chair every single month according to SemRush.
A thousand dollars is a pretty large investment for a chair so let's say the budget range of $500-$1000 is 25% of the 1600 people searching for the most comfortable office chair. This means that 400 people each month are looking for your product. Luckily the budget is high enough for people to do a little more research before purchasing something on the first page. Still, when's the last time you went past the 7th search result page in Google?
Since I like round numbers, let's say it costs $1000 a month for SEO services and their goal is to make sure the 400 people each month searching for your chair actually sees it. If you really believe in your product and it is indeed the best within that budget range, you will get sales. You will see those sales numbers go up. You only need to sell 10 chairs to the 400 potential customers to break even on SEO services.
Remember, this is just for a single keyword and most SEO strategies have a lot more. The keyword in the example is a budget targeted long-tail keyword. However, let's say your chair is superior to products above $2000 because of its superior ergonomic design. The SEO targeting options are endless and with each keyword, you can get more potential customer visits each month.
Simply do the math. Remember, SEO is a long-run investment, it takes time. Search Engine Optimization takes immense dedication that is ongoing and constantly evolving. Not optimizing your site means sacrificing opportunities to improve your business on the biggest market in history.
Now, I understand that you might be thinking that ultimately my example is still only an example, and I like your inquisitive mind. If you want a genuine SEO and overall digital marketing success story, that we had previously with a client, I highly recommend reading our introduction to SEO.