Is it worth paying for SEO in 2021?
If you're reading this, let's start by assuming that you currently have a website or you're looking to build one. Let's also assume that you've heard of the term "SEO" before. If you haven't, I recommend you engrain this term into your mind.
SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimisation.”. According to Wikipedia, “SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results.”
In simple terms, SEO is the strength a web page or site has in terms of popularity on a search engine. Let's imagine for a minute that a search engine such as Google is a popular Club. Google has literally billions of people wanting to get to the top of their line to access their Club. In order for Google to pick out "the ones at the front", its technology looks at many factors in your website to determine if you deserve a spot at the front of the line (the top of their page). Keep in mind, Google works hard to ensure that anyone visiting their Club (AKA search engine) is getting the best results for their answers with strong, verified pages.
The strength of your SEO truly does determine your chances of being at the top of a search engine page and those valuable clicks.
Factors that affect your SEO:
Site copy and keywords
Page load speed
Domain age (longer the better)
Links + back links (your links to other websites, and other websites linking back to you)
On top of this, there are also guidelines and rules search engines place on your account, such as timeframes for "learning" new websites and domains (start working on SEO for your new page too soon and you could be placed "on suspension").
As you can see, a lot of factors are measured to decide your SEO authority. Search engines like Google also continue to change their "perfect recipe" for determining page ranking to ensure web builders and code-happy hackers can't cut corners, which means that determining how best to optimise your SEO is a constantly evolving process. Starting to understand how people can run companies just offering SEO services? It takes time, technical skills, know-how, and up-to-date knowledge.
At this point, you may be ready to start frantically looking for the next SEO salesperson to solve your worries or throw your laptop aside and hope for the best. Fear not, read on.
Determine your needs
So, is investing in SEO worth the time and money with Google’s algorithms continuing to change and paid advertising offering much quicker results? There are many that actually claim SEO to be “dead.” To determine if SEO is worth the resources and investment, you must carefully consider what “it” is that you are wanting to get out of an SEO investment.
I want to make a brief note. Websites and pages can organically create strong SEO without the work, time, or investment. It's possible. But in the same way it takes either time, money or something very valuable to gain a big following on Instagram, SEO is somewhat the same.
It's important before considering how much time or cash investment is to be put toward your web page ranking to decide first what you're wanting to get from it. At the end of the day SEO determines page views and visits. Ask yourself, why do you need this? What do you want to achieve?
If you're a local, specialist plumber with an already well-established customer base, you might not need to invest in SEO. Having a simple webpage to verify your business and provide your current customers or referrals contact information may be enough.
If you've just started an online activewear brand, and your sales are determined by how many people visit your page to buy your items, chances are very high that you will need to invest. These are two very opposite-scale examples.
Figuring out what type of web traffic you desire, what you want visitors to do, and how it will affect your business will determine what your priorities are. You may find that a Search Engine Ad (PPC) could benefit your webpage more than organic SEO, or that slow and steady SEO growth is better for you. Once you've determined why you're online, you can then determine your investment.
On that note, let's dive into SEO versus PPC.
The difference between SEO and PPC
The picture above shows us four web page links on Google. Three are a PPC Ad, one is a webpage with strong SEO. Why? because it's directly below the last Ad link. Top of the search engine presence can either be ‘earned’ through strong SEO, or purchased through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Simple.
SEO is the act of optimising a website to be more search engine friendly. As we've mentioned, It involves a wide range of areas, and takes quite some time to implement successfully. Google uses complex algorithms to rank websites, so SEO guidelines can, and do change on a regular basis. This also means that a website’s search engine ranking can vary when an algorithm update is released. However, those who optimise using SEO techniques will see their site climb through the ranks without having to pay Google.
PPC is the process of buying advertisements and sponsored links that will be visible in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). PPC varies depending on where the ads are purchased. When you purchase PPC ads on a search engine such as Google, you essentially bid on the keywords that people search. The higher the price you bid for a keyword, the more chance you have of it appearing on the first page. PPC enables businesses to get their message out to a large portion of the population in a very short space of time. However, it can get quite expensive to run on a long-term basis.
Neither SEO nor PPC can guarantee you a front-page spot on Google but, when done correctly, both can help get you in front of your desired audience.
SEO and PPC vary in the amount of effort they take to perform, how much money they cost, and how much time they take to see results. Which is better for you will depend on your current circumstances, your budget, and the type of business that you run.
SEO delivers slower traffic than PPC
If the speed of traffic is a big concern for you, SEO may not be the best route to take initially. It takes time. When you perform SEO on your website, you're essentially trying to earn popularity. If the speed of the result is more important to you, PPC may be a better option at this stage.
SEO often delivers a higher-quality visitor compared to PPC
People don’t trust ads. Ad-blindness is a real thing and the ever-growing list of ad blockers shows us that people are truly fed up with ads. Searchers understand that a paid advertisement may not be offering the quality or specific product they're after. How many times has your fast-food burger actually looked like the picture you saw on that billboard? See my point.
Over 70% of people will happily scroll past ads to see organic results because organic results convey more trust than paid ads. This trust carries over to the visitor on your website. The visitor knows that your website earned its placement.
As long as you’re targeting the right keywords and providing value once the visitor hits your website, your conversions will be higher with organic leads compared to a paid visitor.
So, if the quality of your visitors is important, and you want to convey a better sense of trust, then yes, SEO is worth it.
SEO delivers a more cost-effective visitor than PPC
PPC (Pay per click) gets its name from the form of acquisition it provides. You pay for each and every click. When someone sees your PPC ad on Google, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, and they decide to visit you, you pay for it. The CPC (cost-per-click) will be a variable rate depending on the quality of your ad and the competition in your space. You could end up spending $1.00 per click, or as much as $70 per click with PPC!
SEO services, on the other hand, are not based on a per-click basis. Once your website is ranking on the first page of Google, you will begin receiving organic clicks to your page. That's free traffic!
If you’re currently spending $2000 per month on PPC, an SEO strategy can eventually allow you to spend less on PPC and start getting “free” clicks via organic search results.
So, are you looking to lower the cost-per-acquisition of your leads with longer-term results? If so, then YES, SEO is worth it.
How much does SEO cost?
Let’s first get the idea of SEO being a “cost” out of your mind. SEO is an investment in your company. You’re building an asset by developing a website, and content, that will last as long as your company lasts. Every dollar that is placed into an SEO campaign will deliver results that stick with your company. On the other hand, paid ads (PPC) can gain leads faster, but will instantly disappear once you stop spending.
SEO is an investment.
So, how much should you invest in SEO?
It's extremely hard to put a final figure on SEO as there are a number of factors that determine the final price. The amount is going to vary from agency to agency, and from industry to industry. Typically, you should expect to pay $500 or more for local, low-competition, single-location local SEO. Anything below and you could be throwing your cash to the wind. SEO takes time, time is money, so don't expect to spend a little, or you'll get little to no return.
Furthermore, multi-location, national, and stronger competition SEO will see recommendations range from $1000-$6000 per month. The investment that is right for you is going to depend on what your goals are, what the lifetime value of your customers are, and how you are currently spending your marketing budget.
So, is SEO worth it for you?
If you've rectified "yes" you need SEO, and your marketing budget allows, SEO is an investment that you should start on sooner rather than later. Time is a valuable asset in SEO, and the longer you delay investing in a thriving SEO campaign, the longer it will take to garner that free, glorious traffic.
Our answer to the question, is yes when it applies to you, SEO is a valuable, worthy investment. You’re building an asset for your company by investing in SEO, and that asset is long-term traffic.
Ready to start finding the right expert? Gecko Cloud Solutions knows good SEO. We offer expert services that can take your business to the next level, regardless of your industry type or current SEO strength. Get in touch to learn more.