Anyone who invests dollars into a marketing channel is expecting to see a return on investment (ROI) from that marketing channel.
Those who invest in SEO are probably expecting the same. But I challenge this thought and dare to say SEO should not be required to meet an ROI target. Why, you ask? It’s because of two things:
Let’s dig deeper into each statement.
Dollars appropriated for SEO services tend to come out of the marketing budget. As a result, it’s held to the same level of performance and accountability as Google AdWords spend, Facebook display ads and paid Yelp campaigns. But why?
Google would be the first to say you can’t increase impressions and traffic from its organic listings by throwing money at them. Organic search results are Google’s attempt to provide you the most appropriate answer(s) to your query based on its evaluation of all websites it associates with your query and without the influence of marketing dollars.
So then, what would you consider SEO?
SEO is a layer of checks and balances that exists within the mechanics of all online communication to help your brand’s message reach as far as it possibly can. Through ongoing maintenance, SEO can help ensure that the value of your website is properly identified by search engines, which can help maintain and improve organic visibility.
To achieve this, efforts need to be put forth against website structure audits; high-value content identification and creation; and online partnership research and relation building.
So as you can see, SEO is not a stand-alone marketing channel. It’s a mixture of on-going reviews, assessments and adjustments to ensure you’re not going to shoot yourself in the foot every time you make a change to your website.
Now on to the next point…
It is very possible to create a website without any SEO best practices or considerations in mind. The end result is still a website. The problems that will arise, however, can be detrimental to the success of your website and brand online.
Think of SEO as a residential building inspector.
A residential building inspector reviews any construction, additions and improvements that are done to a home to ensure they are up to code and safe for the occupants. It is, of course, possible to make changes/additions to your home without furnishing the proper permits and inspections; you just won’t know if the guy you found in the back of the PennySaver built you a deck that is up to code and will last the test of time.
The same can be said for SEO.
You can pay tens of thousands of dollars to get a website built, but unless it’s been built with the proper SEO components in place, who’s to say the website won’t “fall apart” when Google comes to crawl it? The same can be said for Social Media marketing efforts, Content Marketing strategies and even PR tactics. They all tie back to the organic health of your website and require specific SEO permits and reviews.
Is this such a far-fetched concept?
It’s true that you can have an online existence that is 100% supported by paid marketing efforts without any consideration to SEO. You will still get traffic to your website. What you won’t have is any assurance that your website will survive in the organic online world once the money runs out.
So stop trying to squeeze an ROI out of an activity whose primary function is to ensure the integrity of your brand’s online existence. Simply accept that it’s a necessary component of maintaining your brand online.