SEO can be a tremendous investment for a business that can result in huge returns in the form of free organic traffic that can turn into leads that can be converted into sales. For example, Slingshot SEO recently calculated that owning a spot on the first page of Google for the term “health care insurance” has a 5 year net present value of nearly $100 million.
1. SEO provides ongoing value
The analogy has been made that SEO is like buying a home, whereas Pay Per Click is like renting a home. With SEO, if you invest resources into ranking highly for a lot of keyword phrases, you can continue to receive traffic even if you stop spending time and money. With PPC, if you stop paying money, your traffic stops immediately.
2. SEO can be a competitive advantage
Rand Fishkin wrote an article at SEOMoz titled “Yup, SEO Can be a Competitive Advantage” he argues that earning superior SEO authority in the eyes of search engines than your competitors can be an advantage that is difficult for them to duplicate. The number 1 result typically gets a high majority of clicks, so your business can easily attract far more site traffic than your competitors by outranking them (According to AOL data, the very top position in search results receives 42.25% of all click-through traffic). For your competitor to outrank you, they will need more quality links than you, but this can take a long time if you have a lead and continue to build links.
3. Your customers are using search to find products and services
According to the book Marketing in the Age of Google, “50 percent of online Americans use search engines every day and over 90 percent use search engines every month.”. In his presentations, David Meerman Scott asks his audience how many people have recently responded to direct mail and a handful of people raise their hands. Then he asks how many people have turned to mass media like TV, radio, and newspapers to learn about a product and about one fifth raise their hands. Then he asks how many people have used Google to research a product or service in the past month and everyone raises their hands. Clearly, search engines have become the number one tool that people use to find information on products and services, so owning the top spot for searches when customers are actively searching for something to buy can be incredibly valuable.
4. If your competitor is beating you at SEO they are probably taking business from you
If your competitors are effectively executing an SEO strategy that has their site ranking above yours for top keywords, then you could be losing a lot of business to them. There is a major drop off in click through rate between the first and second positions on the first page. If your competitors are not doing SEO, it is very possible to dominate multiple positions on the first page of rankings and get a majority of searchers to check out your site.
5. SEO requires time
If you think you can delay SEO until some time in the future, you may run into trouble. Gaining authority in the eyes of search engines requires time, and it can be very difficult to outrank a site that has been around for years and has built a stockpile of content and links. Even if you can only invest a little into SEO now, it is usually still worth doing. Putting deposits into your SEO now, can pay off significantly in the future.
Update: Ian Lurie at Conversation Marketing has an excellent article about more reasons to invest in SEO: 10 (almost) ironclad arguments for SEO
If you have any questions about SEO, email firstname.lastname@example.org.