If you’re asking this question, you probably already have at least a very general idea of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. But before you make your decision, there are tons of factors that you’ll want to consider. Because the truth of the matter is that not every digital marketing approach is right for every business. That’s true with SEO just as it is with social, partnerships, or paid search (SEM).
So let’s do a quick breakdown of the most common misconception people have when they first build a website: “If I build it, they will come.”
With over 1 trillion websites on the internet, this simply isn’t the case. There are more websites on the internet, than people on the planet. You could literally spend your entire life visiting new sites and never see all of them (especially because MORE are being built and launched every single day).
SEO and Traditional Storefronts
Let’s talk about the online marketplace in regards to traditional shops. If you opened up a store, you’d want people to be able to find it. So you’d likely look for a location where your target customer would shop.
If you opened up in a back alley and no one ever came by, you would never generate any revenue.
To get the word out, you’d likely want some press to cover your opening including newspapers and any media outlets you could gain. You might even network with other shops to create some type of partner deals that are mutually beneficial.
So what do most people think when they open up a shop online? They assume it’s in a high traffic area and that their product/service is unique enough that people will just find it, or maybe they could run some facebook ads and that’s all it takes.
It’s a funny idea really and a trap that I actually fell in with several online businesses before getting into SEO and learning what it means to build a real online marketing strategy. I assumed that building a great looking site that was better than the competition meant it would rank better and people would find it right away. But that’s simply not the way it works as we are all competing for people’s attention, and no one is going to magically find us! Let’s be honest with ourselves here, there area a LOT of great looking sites on the internet, even within whatever niche it is we serve.
People are looking for your business – Optimize for organic search results so they can find it!
People aren’t magically finding our sites on their own. But there is a helper out there that guides them to what they need to find! That helper? The search engines! By building the right content that speaks to search engines, and by making the right connections to other websites (links) we can start driving traffic to your website constantly.
And when SEO strategies are done right, the right people are clicking to our site. Our site is EXACTLY what they were searching for! This is why ranking well in the organic search engine results is so effective.
Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc… all want to give people the best results possible for their searches. This way, all the searchers will keep using their websites and they can keep selling their advertising (PPC). If they don’t give good results, then people will stop trusting them for searches.
SEO is all about search intent and giving people answers to their questions, solutions to their problems, etc… and they literally spell these out in the keywords that they search with.
Social Media Advertising (whether you run it organically or through paid ads) on the other hand is a form of “interruptive marketing.” It’s similar to TV commercials, or ads that pop-up on YouTube.
People might be the right fit with a social approach as there is a lot of targeting involved, but they aren’t sitting there thinking, “I would love to see an offer for SEO services in my Facebook feed right now!” Instead, they are trying to see what their friends are up too and if there are any new entertaining or funny things to check out.
This is why SEO is so powerful. Having a client/customer come to you instead of you seeking them out and putting your offer or content in their faces is way more effective!
The Pros and Cons of SEO
Here is a quick breakdown of the top pros and cons of building an SEO strategy, hiring an SEO, doing your own in-house SEO, or even bringing on a full-blown SEO agency (yes, there are a LOT of options you can choose from!)
Pros of investing in SEO
- Consistently drive qualified traffic to your site, where you can use a lead magnet to capture the traffic and generate more sales.
- Appear in front of your audience more and more. The content you create can be pushed out as email campaigns, tweeted, posted on social, etc…
- Build a strong content library. Content that you can point clients to anytime they have questions.
- Show your expertise. High quality content that goes in-depth on what someone is looking for positions you as an expert in their eyes!
- Network to grow. SEO takes time to build and requires links from other business owners that compliment your business. Through SEO alone you’ll make connections that might lead to big deals and sales opportunities!
- A true SEO Expert can help you establish your brand and will find product and client opportunities that you’d never thought of, things that people are actually searching for and wanting!
- Get a deep insiders look at your competitors and what they are doing right – SEO competitive analysis will give you more insights then you’d ever thought possible.
Cons of investing in SEO
- Good SEO takes time to develop. It’s not this magical overnight process, this is a long-term strategy for business owners who want to keep building their business and see their website as a strong asset. If you’re looking for a “get rich quick” tactic, SEO may not be for you…
- Many SEO agencies and SEO companies are running scams, clear as day. If anyone is promising you to rank for a certain number of keywords, keep looking. If they are saying that they control Google’s search results, keep looking. If they charge per ranked word, definitely skip them. And whatever you do, don’t jump on board with an agency that only provides technical reports that show “on-page fixes.” Yes, On-page is important for ranking, but these types of reports are automatically generated meaning they aren’t spending any time seeing if SEO will actually be a good fit for you and that they can help you. That’s a big red flag!
- If you do it yourself, you’ll need to learn a lot. That’s why I help people by building their entire Lead Machine SEO System and then provide support going forwards. So they can skip that learning curve and get to work on the less technical stuff right away.
- Investment in SEO can be costly from both a time and money front, but it truly is worth the time and money. Getting to the top of the search results takes a lot of time. Hiring an agency or SEO Company can be very expensive. Even if you go about it on your own, you’ll still need to invest time into building the system. However, EVERY step you take to improve your SEO is a positive lasting step. You’re building an lasting traffic and leads asset here!
Is it worth the investment?
If you’re trying to figure out if you should pay for SEO services, or whether SEO is even going to be worth it for your business, it helps to talk to a few experts and request an audit or site analysis. The insights provided by true professionals will open your eyes to a whole new world of opportunities!
To understand the costs, here’s a quick breakdowns of just some of the areas that you or your expert team will need to work. Keep in mind that if you go it alone, you can slowly implement these strategies over time as you’re learning SEO.
- Link building – links are like a popularity contest. If all the cool kids on the block stand up and say “Joe’s Bagels is the best” then Google trusts Joe’s Bagels. Links come from other sites to yours, and the more reputable the sites, the more Google values them and trusts your site. Without links, Google will have a hard time even finding your site. On another note, never pay for links. There is no need to pay for links and building them that way can actually hurt your site. It’s considered “Black Hat SEO.”
- Keyword Research – Keywords are the signals Google connects to what people are searching for. If your site has the keyword, “Denver’s best local seafood” and is set up correctly, Google will move up your search ranking to serve your site as a result.
- Competitive analysis – This is where we learn what other businesses like ours are doing for SEO, who’s linking to them (yeah, you can see that!) and how tough they are going to be to compete with for specific keywords.
- Technical SEO – This is the stuff under the hood. It’s what the experts obsess over and can include things like Page Speed as well. This is important stuff but generally down the line once you’re competing in the top tiers for major words. Early on, SEO agencies will sell you on this, but it’s not the key to ranking well initially.
- Content Creation – Content has to be created around specific keywords to rank well. There are many approaches to this and every page on your site carries a different weight in Google’s eyes based on your site structure.
- Site Structure – Sites need to be setup for Google to crawl and for key content to show up in the right places and frequently enough via internal linking. If you don’t get this right, content that is setup incorrectly will not hit the top 10 search results because it’s not viewed as important.
- And on and on… There are over 200+ factors that go into SEO. Yeah, it’s a lot. But it’s still totally doable with the right approach and guidance if you can see the value of SEO!
All this being said, what matters most is getting a (ROI) return on your investment in SEO. If you run a very small business (just you, maybe?), it can be tough to decide which way to go. If you have time then you it’s definitely worth getting it there. If you have funds and time, then it’s definitely worth it for your small business because you don’t need to see results immediately. But, if you’re just starting out and need to make money right away, then you should consider building and learning SEO simultaneously to other methods (referrals, social, etc…) that drive quick conversions.
You’ll be building your SEO machine which will then provide another source of traffic and leads in the future.
If your business is local, than Local SEO is actually even easier to implement and rank in most situations. You’ll be competing with just the other businesses in your area, like “Denver bakery with chocolate-filled croissants.” There are a lot less people searching for that result than for “chocolate-filled croissants” and it’s much easier to rank for. Local SEO is absolutely vital for stores, gyms, etc.. that have an actual physical location. It also works great in service industries.
How much does SEO cost – what should my marketing budget be?
This can vary across the board. Like I said before, services that claim a certain number of ranked keywords should be avoided. In addition, services that are generic online and priced in the $100-500 range are likely scams. These sites usually use black hat techniques that will hurt your site in the long run.
A good range for hiring an agency for a full-SEO treatment, depending on the size of your site and business, is roughly $1000-$10000 per month. Every SEO is different and maybe you know one that’s just starting to sell their services and is willing to work for less. It also depends on the support you need.
If you go the DIY route, there are courses that are one-time investments including options on Skillshare and Coursera from $30-$5000. These would be strictly DIY so you or a team member will need to take the time to go through these courses AND implement everything you learn.
Here, I run a hybrid DWY model where I guide the process and map it all out with a clear A-B path to get your site ranking. It’s a bit of a different approach to what’s out there in that you’ll learn the process and why it works – which makes it easier to train a team or run things in-house. If you’d like to learn more about that click here to chat with me.
SEO is worth the time and money
Hopefully after reading this article you can see why SEO can be HUGE for your online, national, or local business. Generating search traffic has changed the game for my business entirely, along with my clients, and it can do the same for your business too!
Basic SEO tactics are simple to implement and when done correctly will start to yield results that last. However, it’s an on-going approach as you’ll want to constantly refine things, and can be quite addictive once the results start rolling in. In my opinion, it’s the most powerful form of online marketing available and builds real trust and authority for you business.