SEO can seem like a significant long-term expense and it doesn’t offer quick results like paid advertising does. It’s true. SEO is a slow burner, and it requires an investment in both money and time before you see results.
However, with the promise of lower CPA, higher ROI and a host of other valuable business benefits, SEO is without a doubt one of the most important investments you can make for your business.
The reason why SEO is important for business is simple: it increases the visibility of your brand in organic search engine results, which is exactly where people are looking for products and services.
These three statistics really drive home how important search engine marketing is for modern businesses:
of online experiences start with a search engine.
If you’re not visible in the search engine results pages, you’re likely missing out on huge volumes of consumers.
of search engine users never click past the first page of search results.
If you’re not ranking on that hallowed first page, the majority of consumers looking for your products and services will simply never find your business.
of the links search engine users click on are organic, with the majority ignoring paid ads in the search results.
Paid ads may get you some traffic, but organic results are clearly more valuable to the average consumer.
So, why invest in SEO? Because it allows you to tap into a demographic which is actively looking for businesses like yours. Unlike outbound marketing strategies which try to convince anyone and everyone that they need your business, SEO waits for interested consumers to look for you. And when they do, it positions your brand at the top of the competition to maximise your chances of achieving a sale.
We’ve established why SEO is important for business, but we understand that every business still needs to weigh up the pros and cons of any marketing strategy before they jump into an investment. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of SEO.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy – results aren’t instant but are gradual and steady. Your organic traffic will gradually grow over a series of months and years, which means that sales will build incrementally along with it. Since SEO adds more and more value to your business every week and month, in the long term, it can provide a much better ROI than other advertising methods.
SEO takes time and you need to prepare yourself for an initial period – usually 3 to 6 months – where you’ll be investing time and money with minimal results in terms of sales. Any SEO agency which promises fast, almost instantaneous results is not one to be trusted because that’s simply not how SEO works.
However, slow and steady wins the race, and the long-term investment is worthwhile when you see long-term results. With paid advertising, you’ll only see an increase in traffic if your ads are running. With SEO, the investment you make at the start will still be felt years later as your website’s organic reach continues to grow.
The ultimate goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic to your website, but it usually offers a wider range of benefits too. Good SEO involves a huge range of strategies that will add value to your website and business in general.
For example, as part of your SEO strategy, you might work on creating fresh, new content which you could use time and time again in future as part of your wider marketing strategies. SEO may also require you to improve your website user experience or optimise your site for mobile users, both of which could help boost customer satisfaction and, in turn, conversion rates & sales. It’s also smart to establish a strong social media strategy as part of your SEO efforts, and social media marketing offers a whole host of benefits in terms of increasing your exposure to consumers and building a reputation for your business.
What makes SEO so daunting, particularly for small businesses, is its complexity. As we mentioned above, a good SEO strategy will incorporate various aspects of digital marketing, and it can also be highly technical. SEO best-practices are vast and varied, and search engine ranking factors are constantly evolving. However, if one thing is for sure, it’s that businesses can’t afford to ignore the way that consumers are turning to organic search to find businesses. Doing so will cause them to miss out on a highly lucrative market.
One of the best solutions therefore, is outsourcing. Rather than trying to handle complex SEO strategies in-house like you may have always done with paid and traditional advertising methods, SEO is best left to the experts. Although this may involve a larger outlay at the start, the way that SEO offers incremental results ensures that it’s a worthwhile investment in the long run.
SEO focuses on increasing your business’ visibility to consumers who are actively looking for the products and services you offer. It taps into consumers who have clearer intent to buy than many other traditional advertising methods, which tend to bombard consumers with sales messages that they have little interest in. Plus, it allows you to target consumers at every stage of the buying cycle – from when they first start researching your products, through price comparison, and finally, their purchase.
By targeting only the most interested consumers, SEO tends to offer a much lower cost per acquisition (CPA) than traditional marketing methods, such as print advertisement, cold calling and email, in which you waste money advertising to totally disinterested consumers. Inbound leads, like those from SEO, cost on average 61% less than outbound leads.
We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again – SEO takes time, but the long-term investment is what drives long-term results, lower CPA and higher ROI. However, this does mean that it’s not the right tactic for short campaigns, such as promoting one-off special offers or flash sales.
Although SEO tends to focus primarily on boosting organic traffic to your website, it can also help you to generally increase the visibility and credibility of your brand. If you consistently appear in the top organic results for search terms relevant to your industry, consumers will begin to recognise you as a well-established, reputable brand.