Most likely, if you have a website for your business, you probably have been pitched by a host of companies about the benefits of Search Engine Optimization.
And, as someone who has been actively practicing organic search engine optimization since 1996, I am probably just as qualified as anyone else in the search engine marketing industry to tell you about the benefits of search engine optimization. Organic or natural search engine optimization is the art of optimizing your existing website so that it’s more search engine friendly and optimizing your off-site website marketing plan so that your website is found in the search engine results for keywords that people search for that are related to your business.
But search engine optimization should do a lot more than just help you “get found” in the search engine results. It’s about optimizing your website marketing plan so that your website delivers ROI. You probably have invested a lot of money into your website already, including web design and website development. Do you really need to invest even more money into search engine optimization? After all, hiring a great search engine optimization company can be expensive. So how exactly does search engine optimization add value to a website? Let’s look at some specific examples that prove that investing in search engine optimization is, in fact, a great investment.
Let’s take, for example, Gun Barrel Ranch. This western decor and western furniture company hand crafts their own merchandise right here in the United States, in Texas. They have had a website for a while now, and I’ve recently been working on their website’s search engine optimization. They invested in a few good website directory listings such as the Yahoo! Directory and a few others, and have been working on getting more on-topic links to their website. Previously, before they optimized their website, they were getting a few hundred visitors every month, mainly from their own business cards, trade shows that they attend on a regular basis, and a few very expensive, strategically-placed, full-page ads in some offline publications. Now, after my search engine optimization, they’re enjoying hundreds of visitors every day, and now they sell plenty of cowhide ottomans, enough to keep their craftsmen very busy. So, for Gun Barrel Ranch, search engine optimization has paid off tremendously. Their investment in search engine optimization has paid for itself within one month. Where they previously were not found at all in the search engine results, they have a lot of great search engine rankings, and are even talking about expanding their product line further.
Hiring a Search Engine Optimization consultant or SEO firm is very affordable. What if Gun Barrel Ranch wanted to go directly to Google, and show up in Google’s search engine results. What if they paid for their visitors? For pay per click through the Google AdWords program, the average cost per click (CPC) is $1.76 per click for “cowhide ottoman” and $2.71 per click (per visitor) for “cowhide ottomans”. Even if Gun Barrel Ranch wanted to spend only $1.00 per visitor to their website, they would easily spend over $1400 per month just to receive targeted traffic to their website for one product:
Average Monthly Search Stats – cowhide ottoman
Average Monthly Searches: 1,220
Average Cost Per Click: $1.76 USD
Average Monthly Search Stats – cowhide ottomans
Average Monthly Searches: 258
Average Cost Per Click: $2.71 USD
And this is only one keyword phrase, one particular product that Gun Barrel Ranch sells. What about the other products? Currently, this small ecommerce business has about 50 products total and is relatively small. When you compare the cost of Google AdWords to the cost of hiring a search engine optimization professional, search engine optimization is still a bargain.
Let’s take a look at another example. What is the value of a website that does not take advantage of search engine optimization versus the value of a website that has taken advantage of search engine optimization? Let’s take a look at a news website. A news website doesn’t necessarily “sell” something. But, a news website needs visitors, people who are interested in reading the news that they are reporting. A news website may get its news indexed by the search engines, but if they’re not taking advantage of search engine optimization best practices (like making sure that their news articles’ titles are in the “title tag” of the page), they are going to lose out on a lot of potential “free traffic” and visitors that organic search engine optimization is going to bring to the site.
There are literally hundreds of other news websites out there that report the news online. But, what makes one particular news website always show up in the search engine results for many of the most popular news stories reported every day? Search engine optimization can literally mean hundreds of thousands of additional visitors every day, which could then translate into a lot more potential ad revenue for a news website.
Like I mentioned in regards to Gun Barrel Ranch and “cowhide ottomans”, there is a cost for a news website to acquire traffic to its articles. Certainly, one option would be for the news website to actually purchase related traffic. Why not add a new Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisement via Google Adwords, bidding on a few related keywords, for every article that they add to the website? Certainly that’s one way to acquire traffic. Yet another would be organic search engine optimization. Making sure that the news website’s articles (the content) is optimized properly and that they appear in the news search engines (such as Google News) is key. And taking it one step further by integrating the news articles (or submitting them) to the social media websites would help, as well.
So, whether or not your website is selling something (like Gun Barrel Ranch), or whether or not you give out “free information” such as a news website, if you follow search engine optimization best practices or hire someone like myself who does, search engine optimization really does add value to a website: and that value is the traffic, the additional on-topic targeted visitors that your website will receive. Without it then you’re really not going to see any ROI from the money you just spent on great web design.