In a word, yes, SEO is very much worth it for small businesses.
Implementing proper SEO strategies should increase your business’ ranking on Google and other search engines, which directly translates to more potential revenue for you.
In 2018 , nearly 93% of global internet traffic was via Google.Sparktoro
What Is SEO Actually Worth?
It’s worth something different to every business, and is never an easy calculation.
What we do know, though, is it’s universally agreed to be a long term investment.
A study found SEO generates more traffic than organic social media by over one thousand percent.BrightEdge
While this is impressive, as a small business, you’re likely stretched on time and money.
So, you wonder—what exactly is SEO worth to me and my business?
Let’s take a look at the following example:
We’ll use “best hiking shoes” as our target keyword.
First, we identify the keyword search volume for “best hiking shoes,” then multiply it by the average click-through rate. (Let’s assume the search volume for this keyword is 16,000 per month.)
“The estimated click-through rate for top ranking long-tail keywords in Google is about 33%.”
Now, you’ll need to determine an average conversion rate. For the sake of this example, let’s use 2%.
You’ll also need to estimate the average order value per month. We’ll say hiking shoes bring in an average of $75.
To find out what SEO is worth for this keyword, multiply these four numbers together.
Volume x Click-Through x Conversion x Sales Price
– or –
16,000 x .33 x .02 x $75 = $7,920 per month in revenue.
In other words, ranking atop of Google for a term like this could net you, potentially, $7,920 per month in sales.
But this is for searchers all across the country, and not necessarily local. You’d be competing with any company in the United States who also sold hiking shoes.
What is the Average Cost Of Local SEO?
Local search is a little different, geographically, but the concept is the same.
Does your company depend on business from people living in a specific region? If so, you could benefit from local search.
For example, perhaps you run a small floral shop in Denver.
In this case, you’ll want to target local SEO since gaining customers from across the country wouldn’t increase your revenue unless you could ship the flowers.
So how does the cost translate for local SEO?
The price for local SEO will vary significantly depending on factors such as:
- Whether your business is in a small town or big city
- If you have a lot of competitors in your region
- How many products or services you’re aiming to target
If you live in a large city and there’s high competition in your area, you’ll be paying more for SEO than if your business operates in a small town with low competition.
And for a good reason—it’ll require more time and effort.
When it comes to SEO, long term strategies are what count.
For example, local citations help people find your business’ contact information and maps.
It’s worth it, though.
According to Think With Google:
76% of mobile users acted upon their local business search on the same day.
Because of so many factors, it’s actually almost impossible to estimate a range of prices the average person would need to pay.
But, rather, what you should focus on is the return you would get more than the price alone.
Why Not Just Do It Myself?
You may be thinking, “why can’t I just do it myself?“
It’s an understandable temptation for small business owners, but it can be a devastating one without a commitment of considerable time and training.
Google is continuously updating and changing its algorithms.
Therefore, it’s difficult for a small business owner, who typically already has too many tasks to juggle, to learn SEO properly and continually implement the best practices.
It’s usually best for this to be outsourced so you can spend your time fulfilling the product and service requests.
Especially since, when you are ranking well, those will increase.
How quickly would your business grow if your website traffic doubled? Tripled? More?
39% of buyers made a purchase based on relevant searches.Think With Google
Putting in the cost upfront for SEO will help you access those customers quicker and more effectively than figuring out SEO on your own.
What is the Long-Term Value Of SEO?
A search engine’s job is to offer users reliable and accurate results.
Therefore, they favor big brands and small businesses who’ve spent years implementing SEO best practices.
As you build up your authority, other blogs and websites will start to notice you, too. They’ll link your blog posts or business pages signaling to Google your website is trustworthy.
According to Moz:
Google takes into account over 200 factors when looking at how to rank a website.
The longer you work on implementing SEO for your small business, the better off you’ll be in ranking for these factors.
When looking at the long-term value of SEO, let’s revisit our hiking shoe example.
Since you likely won’t rank number one in Google right from the start, let’s assume you have a click-through rate of 3%. That comes out to be: 16,000 x .03 x .02 x $75 = $720 per month in revenue.
Now, let’s assume you pay $1,500 per month. You’ll be at a $780 per month loss.
This is completely normal, unfortunately, since SEO is a long-term play.
However, as your authority with Google grows and your website ranks higher, these numbers will shift in a positive direction.
That’s the power of SEO and why it’s a worthwhile investment for small businesses.
What Are Some Alternatives in the Short Term?
Since successful SEO depends on time, you can utilize some alternative strategies in the short term.
- Display Ads
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing & Ads
Of these strategies, pay-per-click (PPC) is most directly related to SEO.
If someone Googles, “best hiking shoes,” and you have PPC ads set up, your website will be listed at the top of the search results and labeled “sponsored” or similar.
Let’s assume the cost per click for the “best hiking shoes” keyword is $3.00, and it has a click-through rate of 4%.
Based on 16,000 searches per month multiplied by $3.00 per click, then multiplied by 4% click-through, this would amount to $1920 per month in ad costs.
Of course, you could do less, if you wanted; it’s like a faucet and can be turned on/off whenever you want, or when your campaign hits your max budget.
From here, your profitability is based on how many of those users convert to sales.
Now, some keywords are much higher and much lower than this $3 PPC cost, so it’s a matter of experimenting to find the best fit for your business (and what’s profitable).
Generally speaking, though, even though it will cut into your profits, PPC is an excellent way to increase revenue.
Is SEO For You?
SEO is almost always worth it for small businesses because, over time, it will help you gain organic customers.
And it continues to work for years to come.
Since SEO is a long-term strategy, we always recommend you begin as quickly as your budget can fit it in, even if you have to start small and scale up down the road.