Will SEO Help My Company?
4 Questions to Answer Before you Invest in SEO
Not sure if SEO is right for your business? Answer these 4 questions to find out if you’re ready to take the SEO plunge.
I contend that at least a modicum of SEO will help every business build its brand. One-off optimizations like creating a Google My Business page and building social media and branding links will improve your brand awareness and SERP reputation, making your business more appealing during a cursory Google search. The below is a screenshot of the SERP (search engine results page) you get when you Google my business name, Digital Dynamo LLC. It contains many brand-relevant links that help demonstrate the business’s legitimacy. These results did not populate on their own – I created them.
But it takes an investment if you want robust SEO results that make you competitive on keywords. And sometimes, business owners pursue SEO without knowing what it’s really going to take to get gains out of it. Here are 4 questions you should investigate and answer before you invest in SEO.
1. Do customers use search to find providers in your industry?
As mentioned before, I think every company can benefit from a little SEO that will improve their general search appearance. But if you’re interested in targeting keywords, you should first make sure customers are using search to find products and services like yours.
Not all businesses and industries find their customers through Google. Take legal services, a wide-ranging industry that has hundreds of niches.
Lawyers who can do well leveraging SEO include: traffic ticket lawyers, personal injury lawyers, immigration lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers. Why? Because their target audience doesn’t usually have easy access to an attorney, let alone an attorney in these specific areas. A cursory look at the national keyword data for those 4 legal niches for just the queries “[type of] lawyer” and “[type of] lawyer near me” shows a combined search volume of 239,000 searches a month (note: when doing keyword research for the legal niche, it’s recommended you use local keyword data instead of national keyword data).
Now let’s look at keyword data for other legal niches, like corporate lawyer, civil rights lawyer, environmental lawyer, and toxic tort lawyer. The total keyword volume based on similar searches as above is just shy of 23,000 a month. The search volume for environmental lawyer and toxic tort lawyer was particularly low, which makes sense – the target audience that needs these types of legal services are organizations and corporations who don’t need to perform Google searches to find a lawyer; they have connections that can refer lawyers to them.
Now you’re probably wondering how you can tell if customers are looking for your products and services using search engines. The best way to figure this out is to do some cursory keyword research, which an SEO consultant can provide to you for a small fee. They can look at the national or local keyword search data and use that to determine whether investing in SEO for the long-term is worth it. Which brings me to my next question…
2. Are you willing to test SEO for 6-12 months?
SEO is rarely a one-off project. It takes consistent optimization, tracking, and re-optimizing to make sure your website is staying competitive, and it can take months to see results. Big gains don’t usually happen for 6 months after optimization has been implemented, and in some cases, it could take 12 months to see notable improvements in rankings, organic traffic, click through rate and conversions.
Do not invest in SEO if you need a quick fix or immediate results, because it’s not going to happen. Though an SEO can swoop in and make quick changes to your website that immediately put you on the path to better rankings, given the amount of time it takes searches engines to find, crawl and index a website, it will still take time before you see the fruits of your consultant’s labor. You should determine if you will test SEO for at least 6-12 months before you decide to make a serious investment in it.
3. Do you have website tracking set-up, and if not, are you willing to implement it?
So, how do you know if the fruits of your SEO consultant’s labor have been successful? You require a monthly report from them, of course.
At the end of every month, your consultant should give you a report with a rundown of the following metrics:
- Changes in search rankings
- Changes in organic traffic
- Changes in search impressions and clickthrough rate
- The number of conversions each month
To make sure the consultant can track this data – and to ensure you have quick access to this data, in case you want to check their numbers – you should setup tracking before you engage them. You can do this by:
- Setting up Google Search Console
- Setting up goal tracking in Google Analytics
You can hire the consultant to implement this tracking if you like, just make sure you have administrative access to both platforms, and familiarize yourself with both so you can pop in there any time you want.
4. Do you know the SEO strength of your competition?
Not all industries or geographies are created alike. For some businesses – like a snow cone seller in Fairbanks, Alaska – the competition isn’t that high. But if you do a search for a headshot photographer in a city like NYC or Los Angeles, I dare you to count how many results you get.
It’s important to know what your competition is doing for SEO so you know what it’s going to take to beat them. I have had incredible success doing SEO for industry #1 while struggling with industry #2, even though I was pursuing the exact same tactics for both. However, that was the problem – I should have been doubling my efforts with industry #2 because the competition was 2X greater.
So before you invest in SEO, ask your consultant to provide you with a competitive overview of the four biggest competitors in your location and industry. You’ll want to know:
- What are their search rankings and traffic estimates?
- How many backlinks does each competitor have?
- Particularly for local businesses, how many reviews do they have on Google My Business?
- in general, how do their websites look – do they look well-optimized?
Once your consultant understands these factors, they should be able to provide you with a good estimate and strategy for what it will take to outrank the competition. Don’t expect them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt (given the way Google continuously changes its algorithm, it’s impossible to say for sure how SEO will impact your website), but they should be able to give you an estimate for how much you will have to spend monthly, and what they plan to do with your money to get your website ranking well.
Interested in learning more about our SEO services for small business? Contact us to set-up a free consultation.