So, you’re wondering whether or not SEO is worth it?
That’s fair. It’s a substantial investment and takes a while to get rolling.
And you’ve heard some horror stories—people who’ve paid tons of money for basically nothing.
Or worse, paid tons and got penalized by big G.
But you also see your competitors showing up at the top of Google and you know they get tons of customers from it.
Why aren’t YOU the one showing up?
Would SEO really help with that or does Google just give its blessing to some and not to others?
I’m about to answer all of these questions and more.
The Real Question You Should Be Asking
I’m asked questions about whether SEO is worth it almost every day.
Business owners hear about its almost magical powers and want to know if it will really work for them.
And, of course, that’s an understandable question to ask.
But it’s the wrong question.
Because SEO works, and it works extraordinarily well when done correctly (more on this in a minute).
And since SEO is a core component of marketing these days, the question they should be asking is this…
“Am I willing to invest in good SEO knowing that it can take several months to start kicking in?”
As we’ll discuss shortly, SEO is worth it. Every business needs it.
The real consideration, then, is how the numbers will work out for you.
What is the total addressable market (i.e. search volume) in your industry?
And how long will it take?
This is a math equation.
Let’s say you’re in a niche industry with ~10k total monthly searches that you could drive to your site by ranking in Google.
And let’s say in 3 months, you could capture 10% (1k/month) of that market and it would cost you $10k.
Sounds like a lot right?
It is, but here’s what most people don’t realize about SEO.
Most of this traffic (in most cases) will be from people who haven’t visited your site before and are looking for solutions you provide.
That means as long as you keep your rankings, you will keep that traffic pouring in.
Any additional SEO work you do will mostly go towards building on that baseline of traffic.
So, back to the example, if you pay $10k and grab 1k visitors per month from SEO, you will get similar traffic numbers in perpetuity if you keep your rankings.
That means over a year, that $10k spend for 1k visitors has grown to a $10k spend for 12k visitors (and counting).
SEO is so beautiful because it’s so scalable.
It’s one of the only marketing channels where you can spend the same amount per month and get exponential results (if the person doing your SEO is good).
So…Is SEO Worth It?
Yes, SEO is worth it.
It is easily the most scalable marketing channel and can help you acquire targeted leads at a fraction of the cost of advertising when done right.
Outside of the beautiful picture drawn in the last section, there are countless statistics showing the truly unbelievable ROI SEO can produce:
- Many studies and surveys show that SEO ROI can be anywhere from 2.75x – 12.2x (meaning every dollar invested can return between $2.75 and $12.20)
- Credo reports that 57% of surveyed marketers say SEO provides more leads and customers for their business than any marketing tactic.
- Terakeet found that SEO can reduce customer acquisition costs by 87.41%
And I’ve seen similar numbers both with our clients and sites we’ve built.
Is SEO Worth the Money? A Slightly Different Question…
So, we know SEO is a worthwhile investment for pretty much any business.
But is SEO worth the money?
That’s a slightly different, but equally important question that deserves an explanation.
SEO is so well loved because it’s like free advertising.
Once you rank, you don’t pay additional money for the traffic you gain.
But few people realize that you’re still paying money for SEO–just not like you do with advertising.
To keep and grow your organic traffic you have to either:
- Work with an agency or freelancer
- Build an in-house team
- Do it yourself
So resources (time or money) must be invested continually in your SEO.
This isn’t a set it and forget it game. Stop investing in SEO and within a few weeks, your competitors will be knocking you down in the rankings.
So, when asking whether SEO is worth the money in your circumstance, you simply need to look at your numbers.
And that means you must ask yourself these 4 questions:
- How much can you spend to acquire a customer?
- What’s your customer lifetime value?
- What’s your conversion rate?
- How much traffic can you realistically expect to acquire from an SEO campaign?
With these numbers in hand, this becomes a math equation.
Here’s a super simple example…
Let’s say your average CLV is $500 and your conversion rate (website visitors to customers) is 1%.
If you can expect to get 10k qualified visitors per month from an SEO campaign, then you will get, on average, $50k in new business per month.
Monthly Organic Traffic x Conversion Rate x CLV
Of course, some of this revenue will play out in the future since it’s calculated based on CLV, but you get the idea.
So, yes, SEO is worth the money if the numbers play out in your favor.
And they do in most cases from my experience.
When SEO Isn’t Worth It
Of course, it’s foolish to think that everyone will get the same results with their SEO campaigns and that everyone will live in a fairytale where they get 12x ROI on their investments.
There are simply too many factors determining success–even outside of whether the SEO “worked” or not.
For instance, SEO could be considered “not worth it” if your offers aren’t already converting.
SEO can’t “fix” your business, it can only accelerate your growth.
So, if you’re having trouble selling your product or service, SEO isn’t going to all of a sudden make that better for you.
Or if your margins are slim, you might not have the runway to be able to float an SEO campaign. If you’re starting with SEO from scratch, it can often take upwards of a year to see significant traction (but usually only about 3 months for sites with a foundation to work with).
Or better yet, if your market uses Google less than other markets (which sometimes is the case in niche B2B companies), the total traffic volume available for you to capture might not be worth a significant investment in SEO.
These are all things to consider when trying to determine if SEO is worth it for your business.
But all that being said, 95% of the businesses I talk to daily can see game-changing ROI from a good SEO campaign.
SEO works and is worth the money if you can ensure the numbers make sense.
If you are looking for instant results, that’s when it’s a good idea to compare SEO with SEM.
Other SEO FAQs
1. Does SEO work?
Yes, and it has the power to transform your business.
SEO isn’t “dead” like some claim–it has just changed.
(Most people who say SEO is dead just don’t know how it works anymore.)
These days, it’s much more scientific. You must learn how to satisfy the search intent behind your target keywords, create content that actually stands out, and build links from legitimate sources.
SEO works. And if the numbers work for you, then it will get you a crazy good ROI–better than just about any other marketing tactic you can track.
2. Is SEO worth it for small businesses?
We work with several small and local businesses that have gotten ridiculous ROI from strategic SEO campaigns.
In fact, we helped an HVAC company go from 0 online presence to getting multiple calls per day from SEO in about 5 months.
Just like with any business considering SEO, this is a numbers game.
If you are patient and willing to invest, SEO can give you leads at a fraction of the cost of advertising.
3. Are SEO services worth it?
The answer here shouldn’t surprise you…
Yes, if you are investing for the long haul.
Make no mistake: good SEO isn’t cheap.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $3k – $10k per month for SEO alone (without any help with content).
And it can often take 6-12 months to start seeing significant traction.
But you will reap the rewards for years to come.
An old client of mine is a perfect example.
It’s been about 12 months since we’ve worked together (since we worked together through another company) and he is still getting hundreds of thousands of targeted visitors per month with a value of over $70k per month.
Good SEO lasts a long time.
You still need to optimize, grow, and produce content to maintain a growth trajectory, but it has long-term effects.
So, the question of whether SEO services are worth it in your context come down to a few key considerations:
- Are you able to do everything yourself or in-house?
- Are you willing to make a long-term investment?
- Can you expect to get 3x-12x ROI over time?
One of the best ways to determine the answer to #3 is to look at sites already ranking for the keywords you plan to target and take note of their estimated traffic value with a tool like Ahrefs (demonstrated above).
If competitors, for example, are generating an estimated $20k per month in traffic from 50k organic visitors, a $5k monthly SEO retainer would 4x itself every month once you hit similar traffic levels.
And the gains you get each month from the same $5k cost (in the example above) continue increasing your ROI.
When $20k in traffic value from 50k visitors per month turns into $40k in traffic value from 100k visitors per month, you are still likely paying $5k per month (or close to it) for your SEO.
Instead of Asking “Is SEO Worth It?”, Ask “Can I Afford NOT to Invest in SEO?”
SEO can transform businesses.
It’s one of the only marketing channels where you know the “intent” of the people you attract to your site and can scale massively beyond your spending for the long haul.
…that is…if you do it right.
And, unfortunately, most people don’t.
They miss on a few CRITICAL things that completely sabotage their campaigns. And if they would just make some tweaks to their strategy, they would unleash their traffic.
In my free training, I reveal these common mistakes and how you can build an SEO engine that sends you traffic and leads based on work we’ve done over the last 6+ years.