It may be pos­si­ble to run a busi­ness in 2018 with­out doing search engine opti­miza­tion, but doing so expos­es you to risks and leaves mon­ey on the table.

Any­one who has tried to make the case for invest­ing in Search Engine Opti­miza­tion to a client, boss, or col­league, will be all too famil­iar with the com­mon objec­tions: it’s too unpre­dictable, PPC is bet­ter, it takes too long, etc.

There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that the finan­cial ben­e­fits of SEO are not as clear as say, social media or PPC. But any­one famil­iar with SEO knows that it is high­ly mea­sur­able and in most cas­es even bet­ter val­ue for mon­ey than both social media and PPC.

And, many busi­ness­es seem to have real­ized this: In 2016, Bor­rell and Asso­ciates pre­dict­ed that the SEO indus­try would reach $80 bil­lion a year in rev­enue by 2020.

A well thought-out SEO strat­e­gy will bring more qual­i­fied traf­fic to your web­site. Qual­i­ty con­tent tai­lored to the needs of your cus­tomers will bring a high­er con­ver­sion rate. These things are well known. But ignor­ing SEO alto­geth­er doesn’t just mean los­ing a few sales here and there: it can be risky or poten­tial­ly dis­as­trous finan­cial­ly.

Here are five ways that it could affect your bot­tom line…

1. Using PPC as a replacement for SEO

Many peo­ple have attempt­ed to set­tle the SEO vs. PPC debate by try­ing to cal­cu­late a defin­i­tive con­ver­sion rate for both. While many of these stud­ies pro­vide valu­able insight into both paid and organ­ic traf­fic, there are a num­ber of vari­ables that can­not be cap­tured by a sim­ple per­cent­age.

Take, for exam­ple, the fact that a site opti­mized for SEO might tar­get key­words for peo­ple at dif­fer­ent stages of the sales fun­nel, from edu­ca­tion­al arti­cles through to prod­uct pages. PPC cam­paigns, on the oth­er hand, tend to send leads direct­ly to a sales page.

Many of the peo­ple who con­vert via PPC may have been primed by con­tent they accessed organ­i­cal­ly: accord­ing to Ipsos, 44% of online shop­pers begin by using a search engine. The same could also be true of phone or brick and mor­tar cus­tomers: accord­ing to Acquisio, there will be 73 mil­lion phone calls gen­er­at­ed by mobile search alone by the end of 2018.

PPC often has a high­er con­ver­sion rate than SEO, but it casts a nar­row net. SEO allows you to broad­en that net and reach poten­tial cus­tomers at the very start of their pur­chase research. With­out it, you’re leav­ing leads and sales on the table and miss­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to build your brand’s author­i­ty.

2. Missing out on, or misunderstanding, lucrative niches

You might think that opti­miz­ing for a few high-traf­fic terms in your niche is enough. But one of the most valu­able parts of SEO is gain­ing access to the thought process­es of your cus­tomers.

Recent­ly, a col­league of mine opti­mized a site for an RV deal­er­ship in Ore­gon. Ini­tial­ly, the deal­er­ship want­ed to cre­ate a page for peo­ple search­ing for RVs in Port­land. Some basic key­word research revealed that there was lit­tle to no traf­fic around Port­land-spe­cif­ic terms. Instead, the high-traf­fic terms were all state-based.

It seems like a minor dis­tinc­tion, but with­out that small but valu­able insight, the com­pa­ny would have been miss­ing out on a poten­tial­ly huge pot of rev­enue.

3. Being unprepared for Google updates

After Google updat­ed its core algo­rithm in August 2018 (known as the “Medic” update) there were wide­spread reports of dev­as­tat­ing traf­fic loss­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the health and well­ness sec­tor. Some web­mas­ters even claimed that the update had destroyed their busi­ness­es.

While it’s impos­si­ble to pre­dict exact­ly how updates in Google’s algo­rithms will play out in the rank­ings, adher­ing to SEO best prac­tices can mit­i­gate the risk of being adverse­ly impact­ed by an update.

For exam­ple, once the smoke had cleared from the ini­tial dam­age of the Medic update, it was obvi­ous that the sites that had been impact­ed the most were lack­ing in “E-A-T”, e.g. they were lack­ing exper­tise, author­i­ta­tive­ness, and trust­wor­thi­ness. By focus­ing on cre­at­ing qual­i­ty con­tent and build­ing trust and author­i­ty with their audi­ence, sites with a robust SEO strat­e­gy in place had min­i­mized their risk of a traf­fic and sales drop.

4. Ill-advised site redesigns

It may be shock­ing in 2018, but many busi­ness­es still employ agen­cies or devel­op­ers with lit­tle or no knowl­edge of SEO to redesign their sites.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in at the last minute on a redesign only to find that a com­pa­ny has gone ahead and built their site com­plete­ly in JavaScript, or made some seri­ous tech­ni­cal error that will almost cer­tain­ly result in a Google demo­tion. Then, they expect me to sprin­kle a few key­words into their con­tent and get them rank­ings imme­di­ate­ly!

Going ahead with a redesign with­out bring­ing on an expe­ri­enced SEO con­sul­tant at the begin­ning of the process is sim­ply ask­ing Google to take away your rank­ings — and your online income streams!

5. Lack of credibility and trust

While there is obvi­ous­ly a direct rela­tion­ship between organ­ic traf­fic and sales, if you ignore SEO you will also be miss­ing out on many oth­er ben­e­fits. For exam­ple, it is well known that organ­ic list­ings have far more cred­i­bil­i­ty with con­sumers than paid list­ings. If you dom­i­nate the first page of Google across your indus­try, it’s great PR and will rein­force the per­cep­tion that your com­pa­ny has author­i­ty and exper­tise.

If you ignore SEO and your site appears rarely or not at all in organ­ic list­ings, it may make con­sumers more sus­pi­cious of your cre­den­tials and even affect the con­ver­sion rate of your PPC ads.

Conclusion

It’s cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble to run a busi­ness with­out an SEO strat­e­gy, and you may even achieve suc­cess. How­ev­er, by ignor­ing SEO, you’re hold­ing your­self back from even greater sales and suc­cess by leav­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties sit­ting on the table for your com­peti­tors to snatch up.

A sol­id SEO strat­e­gy allows you to min­i­mize the risks of a drop in sales, while also max­i­miz­ing your online foot­print and lever­ag­ing the most lucra­tive oppor­tu­ni­ties to your advan­tage.

Believe me, your bot­tom line will thank you!

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