Deciding whether — or how much — to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) is a decision that plagues many small-business owners and bloggers alike. On one hand, showing up at the top of a search engine results page is a good goal to have. On the other hand, SEO is an inexact science that requires a lot of resources. At the end of the day, is SEO worth it?
How do you determine whether any of your business decisions are worth it? Most likely, your decisions come down to a few key considerations, such as:
- Will it save me time?
- Will it save me money?
- Will it make me money?
- Will it make my business better or more competitive?
In short, it’s all about the return on investment (ROI). SEO is no different. When you ask yourself the question, “Is SEO worth it?” the answer boils down to whether or not you’ll get a financial return greater than the amount of money that you initially put into it.
Now for the bad news: as the experts at Kissmetrics say, it’s actually quite difficult to accurately measure the return on your SEO investment, and very few companies even attempt to do so.
For one thing, you can’t always tell if someone’s first exposure to your business was through a Google search, or if they initially heard about it from a friend or saw it mentioned in a Twitter post. It’s also difficult to measure exactly how much money is being put into SEO. Unless you hire a marketing consultant, the investment in most SEO initiatives is measured through time and effort, not hard cash.
So, how do you ensure that SEO is worthwhile when you can’t even measure what goes into or comes out of it? Fortunately, there are a few strategies that anyone can follow to boost your SEO without requiring a large upfront investment.
What are some things that you can do to maximize your SEO ROI? Here are six tips:
- Choose an SEO-friendly web platform — If you’re just starting to create your website or blog, make sure you build it on a content management system (CMS) that search engines like. As Torque Magazine reports, the most recommended CMS for SEO is WordPress.com. Google and other search engines love WordPress.com sites. So, if you’re using WordPress.com to build your site, you already have an SEO head start.
- Focus on target keywords — Pick specific, popular keywords and continue to use them. Then, make sure your keywords are integrated throughout your site’s pages and posts in a way that feels natural (not forced) to visitors.
- Think of SEO as a system — Almost everything that you do as a business owner impacts your SEO. For example, if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, providing an extraordinary customer experience can actually improve your SEO. If shoppers love you, they’re more likely to write glowing online reviews about your store, blog about your services, and link to your site on social media. All of these interactions will boost your ranking in search engines results. So, think of SEO as an outcome of everything that you do.
- DIY — Thanks to the internet, you can learn about any subject in a relatively short amount of time — including SEO. Your first SEO “investment” should be reading about it from online experts, which you can do for free. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around it, craft your plan and get started without having to spend a dime or hire an outside expert.
- Create dynamic content — Once you build your basic business website, the structure probably isn’t going to change very frequently. However, Google prefers sites that are filled with high-quality content that is continuously updated (dynamic content). Create dynamic content via a blog that is part of your website. You’re an expert in what you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it, right? So, write about your experiences on your blog. Dynamic content helps people find you through searches and keeps them coming back for more visits.
- Be the tortoise — There are all kinds of shenanigans that people pull to game the SEO system. Don’t take this route! Instead, plan for and invest in sustainable, long-term SEO strategies that will pay off if you continue to create quality content. Remember, don’t add too much to your plate all at once or you’ll burn out. Also, don’t expect your first blog post to go viral. Instead, think about how much valuable, SEO-supported content you’ll have if you simply write one exceptional blog post or article every week for three years. Plan on being the tortoise, not the hare.
Now, when you ponder the question “Is SEO worth it?” you’ll understand that the answer comes down to you. If you learn the basics, craft a long-term plan, and keep after it, your SEO ROI will continue to grow each month and year that you’re in business.
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