In order to understand SEO, we need to understand Digital Marketing in general, and then SEO’s place within it. Digital marketing was a direct assault against traditional marketing channels like Print and TV. While Amazon soared up, we watched Sears and Toys R Us fall. While YouTube and Google ascended, we saw newspapers and magazines wither. People “Facebook” more than they scrapbook, and when was the last time you used a phone book? Adapt or die because people love their Internet, and digital marketing is how we monetize it. As a business owner, don’t underestimate the importance of digital marketing. Odds are, people will find your website before they find your store, before they meet you, and before they purchase from you.
While Amazon is not the greatest achievement of the internet, it may be the most visible monument. Without a single storefront, it has become the 7th largest retailer. More impressive, it has the largest market capitalization of any retail store, including Wal-Mart… and it is just warming up.
The major digital marketing channels include search marketing, social media, display advertising and email marketing. Combined, digital marketing budgets exceeded TV ad spending in 2017. Of these digital marketing channels, the search engines rein as the primary driver of business generation.
Today, search engines produce about 200 billion searches per month (source SEO.com). There are over 236 million people in the USA that will be search engine users in 2019. 66% of marketing professionals say that growing their organic presence is their top online marketing priority. Over 72% of people seeking a local store on their mobile phones will visit the store. Finally, social media actually generates only 3% of the traffic on average to a website. When you add it all up, search engines generate the lion’s share of online-based sales, while leading to on-site visitations as well.
So, we have established (1) that digital marketing is now larger than TV and other marketing channels. We have also established that (2) the search engines are the king of digital marketing sales. By understanding this, we can see that search engine marketing is an essential part of any marketing plan. Search engine marketing comes in two varieties, being sponsored search (PPC) and organic search (SEO). When executed properly, SEO tends to yield the best ROI, due the expensive and competitive nature of PPC.
So, when reflecting on the original question, “Is paying for monthly SEO services really worth it?” you have to consider what is at stake if your business is absent from the search engines. You will be missing one of the most popular marketing channels for driving business. Search-based web traffic is second only to a referral. Search engines display your website to a person seeking the products/services you sell at the very moment they are interested. It doesn’t get any better than that. Investing in SEO is a common-sense marketing strategy. Billions of people are searching for millions of things, and that high volume traffic produces a strong sales ratio.
So then, why can’t a one-time SEO effort be sufficient rather than a long-term approach? SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. Websites don’t go from #1000 to #1 overnight. You must build trust with the search engines, and that takes time. Google has publicly stated that it makes over 500 search algorithm updates each year and that it looks at over 200 different “signals” to determine why one website will out-rank another. Ongoing SEO is necessary because the search engines are always evolving. We SEO differently today than we did just 3 years ago. Also, just because one company makes a one-time SEO effort doesn’t mean that their competitors will give-up so easily. Remember, this is serious stuff and your business is on the line. Are you going to give up on SEO quickly after knowing that it is one of the most important, and possible THE most important, marketing influencer? If you have tried it, and it failed, it means that you need to work harder or find better help.
The REAL problem is that most SEO companies stink at their jobs. They are either outright malicious and take advantage of their customers, or they are simply incompetent. There is nothing wrong with SEO theory, but there is plenty wrong with SEO companies. If you are seeking out an SEO firm, take your time and be very thorough. Look for an experience firm with a proven track record. Don’t be wowed by a slick salesperson and take the time to verify that the SEO company shows competence, integrity and affordability.