Most businesses these days can be found online, but having a website simply isn’t enough. The internet is saturated and you’ll need something to help your business stand out from the endless crowd of websites.
And that’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
When it comes to your online presence, most net-savvy people would advise you to invest in SEO but there isn’t a clear-cut consensus. You’ll find others who’ll tell you why you shouldn’t and that SEO is a waste of time and money.
So, is SEO worth it and who should you listen to? Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself and this article will help answer some of the more commonly asked questions so you can make a better, informed decision.
What Is SEO and Why Should You Invest in It?
Put simply, SEO is the process of increasing a website’s ranking and visibility in the search engines. Generally, the higher a site appears in the search results the more visitors — or link clicks — it receives.
Many local businesses are convinced that they need a massive marketing budget in order to have a successful shot at SEO, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Local businesses that run effective SEO campaigns are able to achieve high Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs) in Google because they’re prioritized whenever a query that has local intent is searched for.
The secret lies in achieving a high organic search ranking where results are based on the relevancy to a user’s query, Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA) and backlinks, among other factors. While paid search relies on a keyword bidding system to determine positioning, organic search is based on the merits of your online marketing efforts, costs less over time and the results are longer-lasting.
Here are a few reasons why SEO is worth the investment:
- Impacts the buying cycle. Before consumers make a purchase, they start their research online. In fact, 93% of online experiences start with a web search.
- Helps builds trust and credibility. SEO helps build trust and credibility since Google is the one recommending your business at the top of their organic search results.
- Increases visibility. Getting listed at the top of search guarantees that your website will be seen. On average, the top result received approximately 31.21% of all clicks, followed by 15.52% and 9.82% for the second and third results, respectively. This increased visibility also brings with it increased engagement, traffic and conversions (especially when ranking for longer-tail keywords).
- Makes you future-proof. With the acceleration of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices employing the use of voice search, your chances of being found through an organic search query are increased.
Is SEO Worth It for Small Business?
Before deciding on whether SEO is worth it for your small business, realize that it’s a long-term investment and that results may take a little longer compared to other forms of digital marketing.
However, the payoff is that much greater.
For businesses that have brick-and-mortar locations, local SEO is a must. About 72% of consumers that performed a local search visited a store within a 5-mile radius.
Does SEO Work?
SEO is not an exact science but your chances of success are greatly increased when you follow best practices. Please keep in mind that search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, so many of the practices employed today will be obsolete at some point in the future.
However, there are some SEO best practices that do stand the test of time:
1.) Building high-quality backlinks. Backlinks are links obtained from other websites that point back to your site. A backlink from a relevant, authoritative and trustworthy website is considered a high-quality backlink and these are extremely valuable.
Some ways to obtain backlinks can come from business partnerships, event sponsorships, guest blogging opportunities, directories, forum discussions, etc. Avoid link schemes at all costs!
2.) Content creation. When creating content for your website, make sure to target keywords that are relevant to your product and/or service. This is accomplished by identifying the keywords your customers are typing into search engines and ensuring that they have enough monthly search volume and aren’t too competitive.
3.) Be unique and offer value upfront. Search engines are focused on providing relevant and timely information to users, so focus on creating quality content that helps answer questions and solve problems. Make sure that your content is original since posting duplicate content is considered a deceptive practice by Google.
4.) Post early and as often as you can. Posting content on a regular basis signals to search engines that your website is active to encourage their spiders to crawl your website more frequently.
5.) Solid site architecture. Site architecture has everything to do with how visitors interact with your website.
Some best practices include:
a.) Having a quick page load time because site visit bounces increase with every second it takes your website to load.
b.) Arranging your site in a way so that both visitors and search engine spiders can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.
c.) Making sure that your website is accessible and rendering correctly on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
How Much Should I Pay for SEO?
A recent survey found that approximately 70% of business owners had an SEO budget of less than $100 per month and 17% had none at all!
There’s no right or wrong amount for what you should spend but when allocating a budget for SEO, make sure that it’s something you can afford for at least 3 to 4 months. When it comes to SEO, you truly do get what you pay for (the lower the budget, the longer the wait!).
Setting too low a value on SEO will open you up to falling for a scam and you don’t even have to search for a cheap service yourself, they’ll find you and offer something that’s too good to be true — because it usually is. Expect to pay 1K or more per month for a high-quality local campaign and $1.5K per month or more for a more competitive national campaign.
If you can’t afford a top-level service, here’s how your small businesses can maximize a limited SEO budget:
1.) Outsourcing specific projects or tasks. There are some tasks you can outsource that don’t require a monthly investment. Some of these tasks include: pay per click (PPC) campaigns, content creation, chatbots, etc.
2.) Automate repetitive tasks using SEO tools. You should consider investing in an SEO tool like SEMrush, which helps you perform monthly site audits, monitor links, and a whole host of other tasks that’ll keep you up-to-date on your website’s progress.
While these tools cannot substitute the work of a trained SEO analyst, they can help you identify trends and highlight problem areas that need to be fixed.
3.) Hire an agency when you’re ready to scale. Once you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to take your SEO to the next level, hire a digital marketing agency.
According to Salary.com, hiring a Digital Marketing Manager will cost you anywhere between $84K to $121K per year. That cost increases exponentially with every worker you add to your in-house SEO team.
Is Learning SEO Worth It?
If you don’t have the budget for SEO at this time, one option is to learn and implement it on your own.
In addition, here’s a list of worthwhile resources that covers everything from content marketing, link building, schema, technical SEO, and more.
SEO is instrumental for growing businesses of all types and sizes online. It involves a lot of time and effort, but when executed correctly, it more than pays for itself over time.
Whether you’re paying a professional SEO agency or handling it all on your own, following SEO best practices ensures that your website is in compliance, makes it easier to use and navigate, and helps prospects find you more easily, thereby increasing the chances that you convert website visitors into new clients.