How do you know if you should be investing in SEO?

Wednesday 10 July 2024, 1:24PM

By News Online


Recently chatting with David, my Head of SEO, we realised that we’d been circling a similar issue for many years. And that was a general lack of understanding of SEO or search engine optimisation. Many people I speak with still struggle with:

  • Equating the work to business value
  • Give up just when the results are starting to come in 
  • Start SEO when it’s not right for them

And we get it. I mean, we’re optimising websites for a massively advanced algorithm. There’s just not going to be a lot there that is relevant or digestible for most people.

However for business owners, particularly if they already have a digital ecosystem that provides them leads or sales. Search Engine Optimisation can be an amazing channel to invest in. But it’s not right for everyone all the time.

So how do we as businesses know when it’s right to invest in SEO? What is the relevant information that we need to know to make that decision? We’ll be discussing that today.

Google is the biggest referrer of web traffic
Firstly, let's understand the case for SEO. Google is still, far and away, the biggest traffic referrer on the internet. Here's research from Jan-24 with Google delivering a whopping 63% of traffic across the entire web. 

Note that this includes paid search traffic as well, which depending on some estimates would account for about 15%.

It means that for every 10 people that visit a website, 6 of them came from Google.


Long story short. Google drives a lot of traffic. And if people are searching for your products or services, organic search will likely be your biggest traffic driver. But this doesn’t mean you should be investing in SEO straight away.

No, no. There are a few things we need to understand first.

Tell us the home truths about SEO

To start, there are a few things that we should know about the channel generally speaking. Much like an SEO 101.

  1. SEO is a long term play. It takes a good 6 to 12 months or more depending on the business to start ranking really well in search results. This timeframe has to align with the business timeframe.
  2. SEO benefits your business more if it’s bigger. That’s just the sad truth. If you’re bigger and more established, you’re likely able to better showcase your authority. And have authority online will go a long way towards your rankings.
  3. SEO will involve content. It will involve updates to your website and it will require you to create content on a regular basis. So if you don’t want to change anything on your website and you don’t want to write or create content regularly, SEO will be a lot harder.
  4. SEO is constantly changing. The Google algorithm is constantly being updated. So be prepared to be flexible in your SEO strategy. We are adapting to a shifting landscape and obviously a big thing now is the introduction of Generative AI.

What should we be considering when deciding if SEO is right for us?

Ok so we’ve been briefed on the nature of SEO. We’re ok with time frames and we’re ready to create content. Let’s get specific to our own businesses, what should we consider? Here are the big ones:

  1. Relevance: This is the most important criteria and it’s so important to get this right. Based on the keywords that we’re seeing pop up in *Google Ads Keyword Tool, are the keywords relevant to our business? There is no point optimising for a keyword just because it has a million searches but has nothing to do with your website. 

    There’s no faster way to waste people's time, because even if it did work briefly, people would leave straight away and those rankings will plunge. So the first question when you’re working with your agency or looking around in the Keyword Tool is, are these keywords relevant to my website?
  2. Demand: Next is everyone’s favourite thing to look at. Demand. Or how many people are searching for these keywords in any given month. It might be 10/month (Bad), it might be 1,000/month or 10,000/month. 

    There's no point investing in SEO if it doesn't look like there's enough demand to justify the time and money it'll take to get you on top! 

    Tip: I shouldn't be saying this but if you want to find out, ask for a proposal from a search agency. All of us will likely do keyword research on a few of the most relevant phrases and present the numbers back to you. Get a few proposals so you get some perspective.
  3. Competition: Competition is HUGE now. Not like 15 years ago when I first started. Now you’ll find that most organisations have done or are doing some search engine optimisation.

    This is a bit harder to tell, so I would ask you to refer to your business sense on how competitive it is in your niche generally. If it is very competitive, just be aware that time frames will likely need to be lengthened to account for this. And that should be taken into consideration when deciding on channels.

Google is the largest referrer of website traffic PERIOD

But that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for your organisation. Consider carefully the questions above, think about your business goals and how you might match up the marketing tactic to what you want to achieve.

Good luck out there.

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