SEO: You’ve heard about it. You know what it is (search engine opti­miza­tion), at least on some lev­el. And you’ve prob­a­bly been advised at some point to pur­sue it as a mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. But for some rea­son, you haven’t yet pulled the trig­ger.

Maybe you aren’t sure about SEO’s effec­tive­ness, or per­haps you think there’ll be a bet­ter time to get start­ed with it. But it’s like­ly that you’re either pro­cras­ti­nat­ing or have just writ­ten it off alto­geth­er.

I’m here to tell you that you need to start invest­ing in an SEO cam­paign, and right away. I’m more than a lit­tle biased, hav­ing been an active mem­ber of the SEO com­mu­ni­ty for the last 10 years. But if you can’t take my advice at face val­ue, at least take these five impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tions into account:

1. The ROI takes time to manifest.

When exe­cut­ed effec­tive­ly, SEO is a pop­u­lar strat­e­gy: In a recent sur­vey I con­duct­ed, of 357 online mar­keters, 94 per­cent of respon­dents said they planned to increase their SEO bud­gets or keep them the same. How­ev­er, it takes some up-front costs to get going, and the thou­sands of dol­lars a month most pro­fes­sion­al agen­cies charge may seem intim­i­dat­ing.

But don’t let these “expens­es” fool you. Instead, con­sid­er the ben­e­fits you’ll get from SEO, from search traf­fic, to refer­ral traf­fic, to increased brand vis­i­bil­i­ty and rep­u­ta­tion — and then con­sid­er the fact that all of these val­ues mul­ti­ply over time (a prin­ci­ple I’ll get into in a moment).

The longer you invest in SEO, the high­er returns you’ll see, and those high­er returns will trans­late into direct rev­enue for your busi­ness. The only hic­cup here is that your exe­cu­tion has to be effec­tive — which demands expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge.

2. We’re in a ‘golden age’ of SEO.

Some peo­ple might con­sid­er the “gold­en age” of SEO to be the era before the Pan­da and Pen­guin algo­rithms launched — when “black hat” tac­tics and strate­gies bor­der­ing on manip­u­la­tion were still pos­si­ble and quite effec­tive.

Hon­est­ly, though, I love what the mod­ern SEO era has to offer: tons of poten­tial search vis­i­bil­i­ty, approach­a­bil­i­ty and the elim­i­na­tion of dirty tech­niques that com­peti­tors might have used in the past to dis­place you. Search engines are only going to get more effec­tive at eval­u­at­ing things like con­tent qual­i­ty and user expe­ri­ence. But poten­tial search vis­i­bil­i­ty may also soon start to expe­ri­ence a decline, as imme­di­ate answers and dig­i­tal assis­tants move in on tra­di­tion­al search engine ter­ri­to­ry. Get­ting involved now gives you tons of resources and tons of poten­tial — so don’t miss out.

3. Compounding returns means higher eventual ROI than other tactics.

I allud­ed to this ear­li­er, but keep in mind that SEO offers com­pound­ing returns over time. Why? Because every piece of con­tent you cre­ate, every link you build and every action you take is per­ma­nent. Your domain author­i­ty and search vis­i­bil­i­ty will con­tin­ue to increase, your social fol­low­ings will grow and you’ll con­tin­ue reap­ing more refer­ral traf­fic and con­ver­sions the longer your con­tent strat­e­gy goes on.

Addi­tion­al­ly, you’ll even­tu­al­ly devel­op enough of a rep­u­ta­tion that you’ll earn cer­tain ben­e­fits as a result (like inbound links and men­tions) just by hav­ing one. Because this com­pound inter­est growth esca­lates over time, the soon­er you start, the more you stand to reap.

4. Your competitors are pulling away.

There’s a sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ty cost in wait­ing to get involved in SEO, espe­cial­ly if your com­peti­tors are already pur­su­ing an SEO strat­e­gy. They’re doing two things of spe­cial impor­tance: First, they’re cement­ing their rank­ing posi­tions on high­ly lucra­tive key­words; so, the longer you wait, the more time they have to build defens­es for their posi­tion.

Sec­ond, they’re tar­get­ing new key­words and estab­lish­ing that ter­ri­to­ry. The longer you wait, there­fore, the more of these new key­word oppor­tu­ni­ties you’ll miss out on. Get­ting involved soon­er opens you up to more poten­tial oppor­tu­ni­ties for vis­i­bil­i­ty before they’re cap­tured by your com­peti­tors.

5. You can’t go wrong, even if you just dip your toes in.

Final­ly, there’s no rea­son to be intim­i­dat­ed here. Some SEO agen­cies may attempt to con­tract with you for six months, or a year or longer, because see­ing results takes time. How­ev­er, you’ll have oth­er options. For instance, I don’t require any time com­mit­ments from my clients, and you can always increase or decrease your invest­ment accord­ing to your com­fort lev­el. With SEO, your options are lim­it­less, and it’s pret­ty much impos­si­ble to paint your­self into a cor­ner.

The point is that if you’re going to do SEO, the soon­er you start, the bet­ter. You’ll get to a pos­i­tive ROI faster, you’ll earn more mon­ey over the long haul, you’ll claim oppor­tu­ni­ties as they come up and you’ll pre­vent your com­pe­ti­tion from beat­ing you to the punch.

The longer you wait, the hard­er it’s going to be to break into the game, and you’ll stand to lose a lot if you put off SEO indef­i­nite­ly.