Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is known to generate strong returns and to improve online presence, which is why many businesses that want to grow incorporate SEO into their marketing efforts. Though SEO is an effective marketing practice for numerous businesses, it’s not always the best solution for every business.
SEO often requires a significant investment in time, talent, money, and other resources; so we recommend you make sure SEO is right for your business before pursuing it. This blog post will provide you with factors to consider as you evaluate your business’s need for SEO.
We shared in our What Is SEO? blog post that businesses get what they pay for when it comes to SEO. Given all that goes into conducting quality SEO, a good agency can charge anywhere from $2,500 - $5,000+ per month for SEO services. Agencies that charge less are often providing incomplete or ineffective SEO services.
Because SEO must be executed consistently over long periods of time, only businesses that can afford to allocate at least $2,500 per month over multiple years should consider SEO services.
Businesses that cannot allocate such a budget to SEO services can consider having an employee perform some of the actions that SEO includes since there are instructional DIY SEO resources available.
This is a good temporary option, but we recommend businesses work with an agency as soon as they can afford to because full-scale SEO requires more skill sets than a single employee could have (e.g. coding/web development, graphic design, content writing, PR, etc.).
Ability to Wait
SEO is a LONG-TERM approach. As we mentioned, it requires consistent work over multiple years, and it can take a minimum of 6 months before producing tangible results. Because of SEO’s slow-moving nature, we recommend businesses who can afford to wait consider SEO.
Businesses that need to acquire customers quickly should consider using other marketing techniques that generate faster returns.
*Note: Even though SEO is a slow-moving solution, it should be pursued once a business is in a position to wait because the marketing technique leads to high and long-lasting returns.
Level of Competition
A business interested in leveraging SEO should consider the competitive landscape for the service it offers. The more competition a business has in an industry, the harder it’s going to be to achieve results from SEO.
Typically, industries where agent services are involved (e.g. real estate agencies, insurance agencies, law firms, etc.) require a lot of resources and time to generate substantial results using SEO.
This is because the market is saturated with competitors who all have varying degrees of a presence online. These industries also present a higher degree of difficulty because they have aggregate websites (e.g. Zillow, Realtor.com, Justia.com, etc.) that occupy top search rankings and are virtually impossible to displace.
Though businesses in these industries can still benefit from SEO, especially if they’re able to allocate a large budget to SEO, we recommend businesses adjust their expectations for SEO if they belong to an agency-based industry where competition online is extremely high.
SEO is a set of actions performed to help a website or business listing rank higher and appear in more search results for keywords (search terms) that are relevant to what the business has to offer.
Because the purpose of SEO is to leverage search traffic from search engines, businesses offering services that receive high volumes of relevant searches often benefit the most from SEO.
The key phrase is “high volumes of relevant searches” – meaning a lot of people are Googling phrases that are relevant to the service that the business is offering.
If a business offers a service that is only in demand from a few parties (e.g. airplane motor maintenance), it’s not going to benefit as much from SEO as a business offering a service that is in demand from thousands of consumers (e.g. auto repair).
There is a small caveat to this rule of search volumes. A business offering a service that does not have high search volumes BUT generates a large amount of revenue per sale might recognize an ROI worthy of investing in SEO.
*Note: You can work with a marketing agency or use premium SEO tools, to calculate average search volume for keywords (search terms) relevant to your business.
Following the search volume principle, a business’s customer type can be a factor contributing to whether it will find success in SEO.
Businesses that serve consumers (B2C) are likely to find more value in SEO than businesses that serve other businesses (B2B) since B2Cs typically have more potential customers than B2Bs. Having a larger customer base increases the potential of having search volumes that are worth tapping into through SEO.
Businesses in the following B2C industries often find SEO to be beneficial:
Lawn, Landscape, and Garden Services
Like the previous section, there is also a caveat. Some B2B businesses can benefit from SEO if they have a market size that produces substantial search volume or if their revenue earned from one sale justifies the investment in SEO.
Businesses usually consider SEO as a means for growing sales by increasing visibility in search results and increasing website traffic. However, there are a few other reasons why you might want to incorporate SEO in your marketing strategy.
Rank #1 in Branded Search
If a potential customer Google’s your business by name (known as a branded search), you certainly want your website or business listing to rank #1 in the search results, so they can reach your website, contact information, or content.
Businesses that struggle ranking for branded search terms should consider implementing SEO, so prospective customers can find them easier. Additionally, businesses that rely on website traffic, calls, and sales from branded search should consider using SEO as a protective measure for maintaining their search rankings.
Increase Brand Credibility
As we discuss in our Benefits of a Strong Online Presence blog, offering valuable content to prospective customers is a tried-and-true method of establishing authority in your industry and earning credibility in the eyes of the consumer.
SEO can help businesses build credibility by getting their content in front of potential customers at each stage of their buying journey.
For example: Through SEO, a roofing company in Nashville, TN might get their blogs about roofing replacement processes and financing options to rank for relevant searches. By ranking for informational searches, the roofing company gets their brand in front of consumers who are beginning to consider roofing services.
Additionally, that same company leverages SEO to help their website and other content to rank for branded searches. This allows consumers to reach the business and to see other credibility-building content when they search the business by name.
Boost Brand Awareness
Believe it or not, SEO can be an effective technique for building brand awareness because several actions involved in SEO, mainly off-page SEO, ultimately increase your brand’s visibility. This includes collaborating with industry experts, influencers, other businesses, websites, and community resources to share your business’s content or link to your website.
Such activity increases brand awareness since a business’s name, content, and website is being mentioned and shared by parties that have influence over its potential customers. This approach also boosts website traffic through referral links, social media pages, and branded search.
Do customers visit you or do you visit the customers? Is there a visit at all? There’s often confusion about whether a business needs SEO depending on its answers to those questions.
Though service location will determine which SEO strategy is implemented, where the service is provided should not be a deciding factor for whether a business should leverage SEO.
If other factors suggest SEO is a worthwhile investment for a business, it doesn’t matter whether the business:
Has a physical shop location but travels to customers (e.g. landscaping, junk removal), etc.);
Has a physical location or showroom that customers visit (e.g. auto repair, glass installation, etc.); or
Is a completely virtual business.
Still Unsure if SEO is Right for You?
If you’ve read through this blog post, but still aren’t sure whether SEO is right for your business, please feel free to contact us. A Forge teammate can listen to your business’s goals and objectives, review your competitive landscape, and calculate average relevant search volumes to help you determine whether SEO would be a good fit for your business.
If you’re not ready to speak with a Forge teammate, you can check out more SEO resources below to better inform your decision on whether your business should incorporate SEO into your marketing strategy.