Should I invest in SEO?

Whether we’re looking for a new car or a plumber, we join the millions and millions of others turning to search engines like Google several times a day to help solve our problems. Unlike other forms of marketing that interrupt people, SEO makes your website highly visible to users when they’re actively looking for products and services like yours. If your website is not there, then those users are heading straight to your competitors instead.

Whether you’re looking to increase sales, leads, donations, applications, sign-ups or downloads, the goal of SEO is to help grow your organisation. With SEO, there is no expiry date and the benefits compound over time, to the point where you eventually get traffic and leads for free.

However, you can’t buy those top positions, they have to be earned. It’s not enough to just create a website that search engines can crawl and understand. The best and most sustainable way to achieve this is investing in actually being the best. It’s providing a better user experience with a website that looks great, is easy-to-navigate, quick-to-load and mobile-friendly. It’s publishing high-quality, useful content that users actually read, bookmark and share. It’s about getting five-star reviews and recommendations for what you actually sell and do. It’s being talked about on social media, in industry forums, on blogs, covered in magazines and newspapers. It’s about building trust and credibility which are earned and built over time, just like in real life.

This means SEO takes a lot of work and you have to be patient, but thankfully the results will continue to be felt years later, which is what makes SEO an investment.

However, this long-term mindset isn’t for every organisation. If you are looking for a return on investment immediately, you may find that you get frustrated and end up pulling the plug early on. For more immediate, short-term wins, there are other ways, such as PPC and paid social advertising. The downside of pay per click is that when you stop spending your ads instantly disappear.

Another common roadblock to investing in SEO is that businesses don’t match their SEO goals with their budget. If you invest on the low end of the price spectrum, you’ll be employing a low-level skillset or only have a small number of man-hours. As mentioned, with SEO the more you put in, the more you stand to get out. Moving from position #97 to #32 isn’t going to do anything to your bottom line.

If you are going to invest in SEO, you should do it properly. View any outrageously cheap offer or guarantee with caution. You also have to be careful about hiring-in just any help as a lot of people lie about what they’ve done. They’ll eventually get caught out, but you’ll be out of pocket and they may also end up hurting your website rather than helping.

To build a business case for SEO, we recommend collecting average monthly search volumes from Google Keyword Planner and using this CTR study by AWR to build forecasts. Then look at existing conversion data in Google Analytics and AdWords. Note that this will only represent a window on investing in SEO and will not account for any new revenue opportunities generated.

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