For business owners today, when they hear tell them how they should invest in SEO, it feels the same as when they are told that they should be better at diet and exercise. They do not dispute that there is a benefit in some vague sense, but they may not understand exactly what those benefits are, and it is difficult for them to devote resources to it when they have so many other things going on.
But as much as we may like triple cheeseburgers and Netflix, diet and exercise are good for us - essential, even - and so is SEO. For most businesses, SEO is actually one of the most vital and beneficial marketing investments that can be made. Here are some reasons why:
People Use Search Engines
They really do. Consider:
Over 90% of adults in the U.S. with Internet access use search engines. Multiple studies confirm this. It is even true for people 65 years of age and older.
Over 80% of consumers report that they conduct online research before purchasing products. The chief way they carry out this research is by using search engines. They will search for your product. They will search for products like yours. They will view company websites that come up. They will search for online reviews of your product. By investing in SEO, you can take control of this relationship and spin the situation to your advantage.
Google has become one of the biggest companies in the world for a reason: people really use Google’s products and services. Search engines have just about completely replaced newspapers and telephone books as a way to find local businesses.
SEO Is One of the Most Cost-Effective Marketing Expenses
It is difficult to measure the ROI for some of the common aspects of digital marketing, and even when results are measurable, they will often vary wildly from one business to another due to differences in offers, markets, and execution. However, generally speaking, SEO tends to bring an ROI of at least 10X. This puts it significantly above averages for PPC, social media marketing, etc.
The only digital marketing channel that brings a better ROI than SEO does is email marketing, which often brings a return of 40X or more. That number can be a bit misleading, though, because the real cost in email is not in the execution of the campaign, but in the building of the list, which is something that you do with your other marketing channels, such as SEO.
SEO Has Long-Term Benefits
One of the things about SEO that makes business owners hesitant to invest in it is the realization that it tends to take between 3 and 6 months to have any effect. This delay arises from the gradual and organic nature of the practice: SEO is about convincing search engines that a particular website is legitimate, authoritative, and relevant, and that takes time. As a result, businesses often decide to invest in PPC rather than SEO, as those returns come immediately, even if they are lower.
One thing to note about this fact, though, is that the opposite is also true. Once your website is ranking well in search engines, you can stop spending on SEO, and in many cases, it is common to continue to collect on that for a year or more! Whereas, with PPC, when the spending stops, the revenues also stop.
All things considered, the delayed nature of the effects of SEO is exactly why you should invest in it today. Paper companies plant entire forests of trees that will take decades to grow. Consumer products companies like Unilever invest in developing markets in Africa that will not pay off for many years. Rather than a sign of weakness, the willingness to put money toward something that will pay off later is actually the sign of a stable and responsible business.