does seo work and is it worth the cost

Google process 70,000 search queries every second and there are only two ways to rank on their first page of results. One is to use Google AdWords, which means paying Google every time someone clicks to visit your site. The other is through SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, which means you don’t pay Google a penny and instead appear in their organic listings.

Even though organic results appear under the adverts, 70% of people click an organic result, so if you can rank high naturally, this will drive the most traffic to your site.

How does SEO work?

Google looks at numerous factors to determine where to place sites in the ranking. These can be broadly summarised into three categories:

  • Content – Does your site’s content match the keyword entered? Is there ample text and at least one image on the page? Is content SEO friendly?
  • User-experience – How user-friendly is your site? Is it well designed and easy to navigate? This is largely measured by how many people click to view your site in the results, how long they spend on it once they arrive and whether they visit just one page or multiple pages.
  • Backlinks – The relevance, quality and number of sites linking to yours. Each quality link will boost your site’s overall authority in Google’s eyes. It used to be measured by PageRank, but now terms like Domain Authority and TrustFlow show the quality of a site’s backlinks.

To rank well, it’s essential that you have all three factors in place.

Ask this before you launch an SEO campaign

If you are going to invest in an SEO campaign, the first thing to do is get an honest opinion on the following:

  • Is your website sufficiently attractive and user-friendly to keep visitors engaged?
  • Does it have plenty of interesting and well-written content?
  • Would you feel safe using this site?

If you can’t answer “yes” to all the above questions, then the above issues need to be fixed at the start of any SEO campaign. Google measure how long visitors stay on your site and will only rank sites with unique content. If you don’t solve these core issues, any money spent on SEO will be wasted.

You might also consider doing an SEO audit to get an idea of just how much work is necessary to optimise your site. If you do, make sure you understand what the priority tasks are and what are optional extras. In general focus on:

  • Optimising Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
  • Page Speed
  • Content
  • User-experience

Don’t spend long optimising things like ALT tags on images, as if it’s not visible to most people, Google won’t prioritise it as an SEO factor.

Estimating the potential benefit

Do some keyword research using a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs and complete the following steps:

  • Identify potential traffic based on the search volume of the top 3 keywords for each product. Choose either your country, or international searches depending on if your clients are local or international.
  • Estimate the average profit you’ll make per sale (income – cost)

Potential Profit = Search Volume x Profit Per Sale x 0.024

The 0.016 is calculated as follows:

0.285 (the average fraction of people who click the first result in Google) x
0.0286 (the average ecommerce conversion rate, this will vary by industry and sites providing a service rather than ecommerce tend to have higher conversion rates) x 3

Why multiply this by 3? Because the actual potential benefit is more than just the top 3 keywords for the duration of an SEO campaign. You also benefit from:

  • Ranking high for a wide range of other keywords (it’s very rare that a page will be first for just one keyword and invisible for other keywords.
  • Other pages also ranking higher due to link building campaigns strengthening your domain authority.
  • Ongoing benefits at no additional cost. When you stop an SEO campaign, you will continue to rank high for some time, unlike with advertising campaigns.

Is it worth the cost?

Calculate the potential profit for your top 3 keywords using the above equation.

Remember, everyone wants to be first, so this is a best-case scenario. If your profit will be higher than your investment, it’s worth doing SEO. If not, then it may be best to explore alternative marketing solutions.

For national or international businesses, other solutions might include Google AdWords or  Facebook ads. For local businesses, they could also include the above methods, but might also include distributing leaflets, putting up posters, etc. If you’re only looking for business from your local town, don’t underestimate the potential of these old-fashioned marketing strategies.

Organic traffic from search engines generates ten times as much traffic on average as organic traffic from social media, so ensure you invest your time and money appropriately.

In summary, if you do decide to go for an SEO campaign, then focus on content, site speed and building backlinks for the optimal return on investment. If your likely profit from SEO it greater than the cost, then the potential is enormous. If you stop or reduce an SEO campaign, then unlike paid advertising, you will also continue to receive traffic.

This advice is from Indigoextra Ltd, an SEO agency offering SEO consultation, copywriting and link building services.

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