By 2020, almost $80 billion will be spent on search engine optimization (SEO) in the US alone.
That’s a staggering figure, especially when you compare it to the $65 billion spent on SEO in 2016.
Clearly, this is a giant industry that’s only getting bigger. The fact that companies are willing to spend such serious sums of money on SEO highlight its importance. The return on the SEO investment must justify the massive expenditure on it.
After all, if businesses weren’t seeing a return on their investment, the spend on SEO would not have risen so drastically over the last few years.
But that begs the question, what are the specific benefits of SEO that these companies are experiencing?
That’s exactly what we plan on exploring in this article, so keep reading to find out.
The 8 Top Benefits of SEO
SEO offers crucial benefits to businesses. Let’s go through 8 of the greatest SEO advantages.
1. An Enhanced User Experience
High quality, white hat SEO ensures an awesome user experience (UX). It’s actually one of the biggest ranking factors and should be a big focus of your SEO strategy.
Incredible content, mobile optimization, relevant backlinks, and an absence of nefarious black hat tactics, are all factors that improve the UX and help you rank.
UX is a central component in SEO too. Google treats favorably websites that prioritize it. In essence, high-quality SEO facilitates the UX. This, in turn, helps you rank higher and reach more people.
In fact, Google measures the bounce rate of your pages. If users are coming to your site through a search and immediately leaving, that’s a bad sign. To avoid this, you have to give the users what they want, and that’s a great user experience.
You have to remember, Google’s goal is to help people find what they’re looking for. That’s what keeps users coming back and Google’s focus on a quality user experience is what has lead to them becoming the leading search engine in the world.
That’s why Google rewards sites that provide a great user experience with higher rankings. If a user runs a search, clicks a link to your page, and then immediately hits the back button, Google assumes your page isn’t relevant and will therefore lower your page in the rankings for that search.
Gone are the days where obnoxiously stuffing keywords into your content works to rank well in Google. A quality user experience is the name of the game now, and it’s good for everybody involved, so always keep that in mind while performing SEO on your site.
2. It Generates Leads and Conversions
SEO is a form of inbound marketing that’s effective at generating and converting leads.
For someone to become a lead they must first interact with your business. Seeing your name in the top spots of SERPs is likely to make that happen.
Top spots equal more clicks, and more clicks equal greater traffic. They’ve now entered your funnel. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee conversion of any kind.
But it’s a start!
Moreover, your site’s almost definitely full of relevant, high-quality content. Google would be unlikely to have placed you in a top position without it. And great content converts.
Don’t forget though, traffic from the SERPs is just the beginning. You must create compelling content, and then drive your users toward action to convert them.
You should create a Lead Magnet of sorts to capture the user’s information, so you can bring them back to your site in the future. A lead magnet is a freebie that your target customer would be motivated to download.
For example, offering a free PDF cheat sheet or a high-value video they can watch could work. Just make sure it speaks to your target market, and it compels them enough to enter their email address to download it.
The lead magnet serves as a transitional call-to-action. Since a high percentage of search users will likely be coming in contact with your brand for the first time, you’ll likely still need to build up the know/like/trust factor with them before they’ll buy from you. The lead magnet you provide is a great start in accomplishing this.
3. It Lowers Advertising Costs
Businesses pay thousands in advertising costs to rank in Google’s top spots.
This is because they know it helps with conversions.
Nailing your SEO can achieve this without the need for any ad spend. Of course, some keywords are insanely competitive. Paid advertising is often the only way to rank for the same keywords as certain established sites.
However, the truth remains that the benefits of paid adverts can be earned with quality SEO at a fraction of the cost.
The more competitive the key-phrase, the more you will pay to get traffic from paid advertising efforts such as Google Adwords.
Now, obviously, if the key-phrase is super competitive, it can be difficult to organically rank for as well. One strategy to combat this challenge is to focus on long-tail key phrases.
Humans are unique, and they will type phrases into the search engines that you never would’ve thought of. This creates an opportunity for the savvy search optimization specialist.
Here’s an excerpt from this article on Business Insider that proves the importance of this point.
Supposedly, there is nothing new under the sun. But there are nearly 500 million new things per day being asked of Google that the search engine has never seen before.
“Every single day 15 percent of the questions people ask of Google are questions we’ve never seen before,” John Wiley, lead designer for Google Search told Bloomberg TV’s Jon Erlichman.
This creates a lot of opportunity for those who are looking for it.
4. It Turns Search into Sales
SEO offers serious exposure to shop owners.
Most people now do pre-purchase online research before visiting the physical store. As a result, ranking highly on SERPs is a sure-fire way of stimulating sales (in-store, or online).
Let’s say you’re an independent seller of shoes. You make great footwear and have an even better site, which is fully optimized for SEO. Anyone local who searches for ‘the best leather shoes in [your location]’, will come across your shop in the top spot. Before you know it, they’ll be in your store in person to make their purchase.
Google is getting more sophisticated each and every day. There are now ways to let it know your local service area. Then Google will look favorably on your site for local searches.
So, even if somebody in your local area doesn’t type the name of the location, your site will still get preferential treatment over a site that is not local.
Similarly, any website with an e-commerce store attached may make a purchase there and then.
Optimizing your product catalog for search, can prove to be a highly profitable endeavor.
5. It Builds Your Brand
SEO is a fantastic way to grow your brand.
Brand credibility and authority benefits from high rankings.
After all, people naturally rate something that’s higher as better than what is beneath it. Ranking above your competition sends the message that your service, and brand, is better than others.
It helps with awareness too.
Ranking frequently in a top Google position means more eyes on your site. High traffic equals more leads; generally speaking, more leads brings more conversions.
And successful conversions (with a quality product/service) enables your brand’s reach and authority to grow.
Most people focus exclusively on conversion when thinking about SEO, but the opportunity to improve your brand’s credibility and authority should definitely not be missed.
6. You Beat the Competition
In a competitive world, businesses must do what they can to stand out.
Ranking highly in SERPs can do just that.
Consider (for the same keywords) that the click-through rate of the top position on a search page is almost 30%. This is compared to 10% for 3rd position. This three-fold increase means 3x the chance of converting.
Yes, simply moving up a few positions in the rankings can have a huge, positive effect on your business. Especially, if you can move from page 2 to page 1. Statistically speaking, the odds of your customers searching through to page 2 are very low.
One common strategy in SEO is to perform a keyword gap analysis. In this strategy certain tools would be employed to compare your site against your competitor’s site to look for ranking opportunities.
Then, SEO efforts will be focused towards creating/optimizing content to rank higher than your competitors for those keywords, thus creating additional revenue for your business.
7. It Levels the Playing Field
SEO enables smaller businesses to roll with the big boys.
It’s true that most major companies will have an equally substantial online presence these days. Simply, almost all serious businesses realize the benefits and plow resources into mastering it. A newbie in a particular field may find it difficult to compete for the top spots.
But it isn’t always the case.
Some businesses haven’t kept up with online trends. For this reason, smaller companies can rank highly and reap the rewards.
A business may have been around for 100 years, have a loyal following and an outstanding reputation. After all, it’s still possibly to be a successful business without an online presence.
But someone who hasn’t heard of them will go online and utilize the services of the new kid on the block- just because they’re top dog on Google.
Also, as mentioned previously, if you have a local business and are well optimized for your local area, you will have a built-in advantage over the big national players for local searches.
SEO isn’t necessarily the case where he who spends the most, wins. Employing a bit of creativity and savviness can give you an advantage over your competitors even if your competitors have larger budgets.
8. You Get Lasting Effects
Our final SEO benefit relates to longevity.
SEO is an investment. It takes time, awareness and effort to master upfront. Get it right though and the effects can extend far into the future.
Rank well and you’ll be earning a steady flow of traffic, and potential leads, for months and years to come. Every so often you might have to market your top posts again. You may even have to update and edit them over time.
But overall, the return of SEO will be a gift that keeps on giving.
This is one of the biggest benefits over paid advertising. SEO is an asset. The work you do now will pay off for a long-time into the future. For paid advertising, once you turn if off, you can say goodbye to that traffic.
There’s also a bit of a snowball effect that happens. As you consistently improve your sites SEO over time and get more first page rankings, more people will find your content and more people will start linking to fit.
As more people start linking to your content, more of your pages will move up in the rankings. Google sees links to your site from other sites as a vote of confidence that the content is worthy of ranking.
But the snowball effect won’t happen if you can’t get some of your pages to rank in the first place. It definitely takes some work to get some of that initial traction, but the long-term return on that investment is definitely worthwhile.
Time to Get Ranking!
There you have it: 8 key benefits of SEO to consider this year.
There are many reasons that more money than ever is being spent on SEO. The return on investment is simply worth it.
We’ve seen how it enhances the UX, generates more leads and conversions, and lowers the cost of advertising. Likewise, SEO develops your brand, positions you above your competition, and levels the playing field.
Finally, all of these benefits are yours for significant periods of time.
Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to invest in SEO in 2019! It’s sure to be worth your while.