SEO: What is it?
SEO started in the mid-90s, together with consumer internet access, and has continually grown to be a prominent career choice for internet enthusiasts.
According to an article by Forbes, by 2020, businesses in the US will be spending close to $80 billion on SEO services from professionals. The SEO market has continually grown by about $5 billion per year in recent years.
Dedicated professionals in the field usually have access to various software and tools, perform work on multiple websites at once, and have personally ranked many websites for their own needs before.
In the SEO field, it is common for different areas of the practice to be divided by various professionals, such as auditors, researchers, content writers, link builders, etc. Also, some professionals are a jack-of-all-trades type and choose to fulfil all SEO needs for themselves and their clients on their own.
How Cost-Effective is Seo?
SEO or search engine optimization is a collection of techniques and practices to improve the position of a search result, usually a web page, inside a search engine. This is done to enhance the visibility of the page, bring in more traffic, get more ad impressions, more leads, and grow the online business presence of a website, business or individual. As such, with the goal orientation that it has, we may classify it as a form of marketing, in this case, digital marketing.
Marketing efforts always involve a cost, either a financial one or the time and effort that needs to be put in. Search engine optimization is no different. Many techniques once learned and put into practice will improve the ranking of a page at no financial cost. We call these techniques best practices, and they include proper page formatting, using headline tags, properly integrating specific keywords into the content on the page, interlinking the pages, correct URL formats, etc.
The costs we face when optimizing our pages scale up with the competition we are facing. Ranking highly without too much effort is possible with topics that aren’t searched a lot, or don’t have many competitors ranking their pages for them.
For example, it’s much easier to get our page to appear at the top of Google search results for a niche product or service that people rarely need, and few competitors sell or offer while ranking for a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles will involve huge costs, at a higher potential profit as well.
Important Seo Statistics
So much emphasis is put on being at the very top of the first search results page as Google statistics show the following:
93% of all user activities online start with a search engine – usually Google, which holds the biggest search engine market share of 88%
75% of searches end with the first page of results – meaning only a quarter of searchers look past to the 2nd or 3rd page to find what they are looking for
46% of all Google searches are local – meaning almost half of all searches look for something in the local area – usually a business, event, address, service or product
As many as 80% of searchers ignore paid advertisements – A crucial statistic, as this means ranking on the first page of results will secure 80% of searchers, while competitors who run ads will only get up to 20%.
We can conclude that, if our SEO costs are 80% or lower than those we would have spent on advertisements, we are already saving money for the same amount of visitor traffic.
Some Statistics about the SEO Market
50% of website traffic comes from organic searches – meaning that half of all visitors came by searching for the exact keywords a page is keyword-optimized for, while the other 50% of visitors come from backlinks, redirections, social media, advertisements, etc.
To expand on this point, it’s important to note that a website investing solely into ranking on the first page of results can expect about the same amount of traffic as a competitor who spends resources on paid promotions, advertisements on search engines and social media, builds backlinks on relevant pages, etc.
In essence, this means that a business or individual who invests his time solely at learning SEO practices can match a competitor that has a big marketing budget.
This is one of many indicators that SEO is a skill, rather than a method. It can be learned, exercised, put into practice, and is often unrelated to one’s financial budget.
On the other hand, it requires following the latest trends, Google updates, researching competitors, tracking data (such as visitors, leads, page rankings). Also, it’s essential to be methodical and regular at employing these practices, to give every page the best possible opportunity to rank well, bring visitors, and grow your online presence.
A perfect example is blogging:
Companies that blog have around 4.3 times more indexed pages than those that do not have a blog. Publishing content related to your field of work on a regular basis will contribute to a large number of indexed pages (visible in search results).
This is a huge benefit to finding new clients, as these pages can appear in searches of individuals interested in the products and services of the company.
Additionally, having other blogs (or websites in general) link towards pages on your blog will tell Google that they hold valuable content and that they should be placed higher in search results.
Every SEO strategy, after best practices and keywords have already been put in place, mostly revolves around link-building, creating backlinks to the pages that should be pushed to more viewers.
SEO Tools that can bring more benefit
Blogging is amplified by good SEO practices and keyword research, where companies that invest in SEO research software and a dedicated writer can expect to pay off their costs by securing just a handful of new clients with the help of the blog.
Statistics show that leads generated from SEO (and therefore, organic search) are eight times more likely to convert into buyers or clients than those generated through ad campaigns.
Of course, it’s understandable that a searcher is more likely to try out a product or service that he was searching for (inside the search engine), than the one that was pushed to him via advertisements or paid promotions.
Commonly, SEO tools and software subscriptions will cost anywhere from 30 to 150 dollars a month, usually in the 50 to 100 range, and they ease the process of research, comparing data, analyzing (auditing) a website for possible improvements, finding good blogs to guest post on, etc.
If you asked a professional in the SEO field, he would probably tell you that using the software, and often multiple different ones, is an absolute necessity to make SEO pay off in terms of financial and time investment.
Conclusion: How much should one invest in SEO results?
The $80 billion projection makes it seem as if paying for SEO will soon be the only way forward in the digital marketplace. This is not the case. Many businesses and individuals can adopt SEO practices gradually, without financial investment, to stay ahead of their competitors online.
In fact, local businesses in small towns can benefit the most with the simplest components of SEO, as they are unlikely to have big competitors.
Additionally, in cases where big companies are competing for the same market, SEO allows for great flexibility on smaller budgets. With paid advertisements, the highest bidder will always get the most impressions of their promoted content.
With SEO, the business that takes the smarter approach will see the best results, like ranking for different search terms than their competitor to attract clients with different needs or providing more valuable content to indicate to Google that their website holds more authority on the subject, in turn ranking it higher.
Lastly, SEO has given access to many businesses without advertising budgets a chance to reach a broad audience online. While the costs of professional SEO can match those of professional advertising agencies, most of the time, businesses are performing SEO without even realizing it.
Just putting valuable information about their business, their staff, the products, and services they offer, their culture and goals, etc., has attracted people to them through search engines, and these new clients wouldn’t have found them otherwise.