Should You Invest in SEO? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself
Even if you don’t know much about Search engine optimization (SEO), you’ve probably heard of it or at least seen some stats like:
- 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine
- SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media
Consider how many times a day you reach for your phone to quickly look something up. It’s probably quite a few, as the data suggests.
We know people are making Google searches. But should you invest in SEO for your business? Like many marketing decisions there isn’t a straightforward answer, but there are a few things you should consider to help you make the best decision.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website’s content so that it ranks higher in search results. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO; there are a lot of pieces that can impact how high or low your content ranks. Google uses an algorithm to crawl millions of pages in seconds and return the most relevant results for a query.
We won’t get too technical, but the algorithm looks at many different cues to determine how to rank your webpage, including (but not limited to):
- Relevancy to the search query: Does the webpage’s content contain the same content/keywords that the user is searching for? Google has to be able to match the context of a webpage to a search query.
- Credibility of content/website: Google wants to show users websites that are reputable and trustworthy, not harmful. Do other websites link to this particular website as a source? Is the website owned by an organization that is considered an expert on the topic?
- Technical site health: Does your site load quickly? Is it free from broken links and confusing redirects? Google wants to show users websites that are easy to use and offer a great experience.
Google’s algorithm is notoriously complex and ever-changing. In turn, the actual process of optimizing your website content is constantly evolving. It can be a highly technical process that can put a significant strain on your resources.
On the surface, the answer may seem clear: of course you want to rank high in search engines, right? Because the higher you rank, the more business you’ll gain. But in reality, SEO can’t be executed in a vacuum. Just like any marketing tactic, there must be data to support your investment.
So, Should You Invest in SEO?
To determine whether or not SEO is a smart investment for your business, you must consider the following:
- Is there demand?
- What does your customers’ buying behavior look like?
- What are your ultimate goals?
1. Is there demand?
Take a second to consider what you’re marketing to determine whether or not there is high demand. Ask yourself: are your efforts typically more focused on convincing prospective customers that they need your product/service in general, through education and presenting new solutions? Or does your audience already typically have what you’re offering, and you’re simply trying to differentiate yourself in the market?
The point here is that SEO is a great tool when there is already demand for a product or service. People will continue to search for things like, “restaurants near me,” “best dog groomers,” and “iPhone vs. Android,” because they’re already consumers of these things—they just need ideas about where to get these things from. In these cases, it is incredibly beneficial for a business to show up higher in search results.
However, if you fall into the “low demand” category—i.e., someone doesn’t know your product, service, or industry exists—then chances are people won’t be proactively searching for your solution. This doesn’t mean you have a bad product, it simply means you may need to think outside the box and meet your customers where they are with more outbound marketing tactics.
2. What does your customers’ buying behavior look like?
To explore this, let’s compare two industries/services. Consider commercial construction versus landscaping. While both of these services and industries might be in high demand, the buyer behavior for each is vastly different.
Commercial construction is a heavily relationship-based, high cost, high stakes, B2B industry. Will someone simply Google, “commercial construction companies near me,” and award the project to the first person who shows up in the results? Probably not. Sure, they may use Google as a tool to aid in the bidding process, but overall the process is too complex to be distilled into a single buying action.
With a lower stakes, lower barrier to entry industry like landscaping, users are more inclined to perform a quick Google search and review the first page of results. From there, they may make a few phone calls and look up reviews before deciding who to work with.
This is a simplified example, and there are plenty of other factors to consider. But should a commercial construction company (or any similar high-stakes, niche, B2B company) invest as heavily in SEO as a local landscaping company (or any lower-stakes, broadly accepted, B2C company)? In general, probably not.
Here’s a tip: Not sure if your target audience is searching for your product or service? There are lots of research tools that analyze search volume that can help you.
3. What are your ultimate goals?
If you’ve identified your business as high-demand and you know your consumers are turning to search engines for solutions, then SEO probably seems like a no-brainer at this point—it’s basically a built in lead generation tool.
But SEO’s benefits go far beyond acquiring leads. For example, if you’re located in a smaller city, you may be less focused on lead generation and more focused on simply ranking higher than your competitors for the sake of brand recognition or improving your company’s reputation.
Is SEO Right for Your Business?
SEO might be a marketing buzzword these days, but don’t be fooled by its approachability—it’s a highly complex process! And while there are lots of tools out there to make the process easier, a good starting point is to consult with an SEO expert first.
If you aren’t sure where to start, our team at Engenius would be glad to point you in the right direction. Contact us to schedule a no-obligation call or check out our podcast where our industry experts discuss a wide variety of marketing topics.