Whether you're just starting to consider web development for your business or you've had a website for years, I can almost guarantee you can't tell me why it's a good idea to invest in SEO. As a self-taught web developer, I didn't even know what that acronym stood for (let alone what it meant) for a period of time longer than I care to admit.
I come from Small Town, USA—where tradition trumps innovation almost every time. It's not always because that's what works best or most efficiently, but simply because it works—guaranteed. As the old adage goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." (Improvement should always be the goal, but I digress...) And, despite it being 2021, there are still a lot of small businesses out there that haven't even thought about using SEO yet.
Something that offering web development services in a small town will teach you is that most businesses in a small town don't think they need to develop anything. They already have "one of them Facebook pages," so the public has access to their advertisements (if/when they post something). Ironically, they're confused when a new product or service doesn't land with the community the way they hoped it would. While working with a company, such as Iconic Media Design, takes care of optimizing your web presence for search engines... it's not rocket science. Anyone can utilize the tools necessary to maximize their SEO—but only if you know the value!
So, whether you're a business owner yourself, or you're an employee exacerbated by the task of convincing your boss to take it seriously, I've compiled a cohesive list of statistics to help drive home the value you're missing out on: 1. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate (Hubspot) If this sounds realistic to you, then you either haven’t worked in marketing for long or you know SEO backwards and forwards.
Regardless, it’s important to know that this is not normal.
Outbound sourced leads—like those that cold calls or other traditional methods provide—have a close rate of 1.7% (also from Hubspot). That means for every one client you gain with outbound marketing, you'd gain approximately 8.5 more clients via SEO—in theory, anyway. Beyond that, if you combine that number with all of the other stats on this page, you’re suddenly looking at a massive payout for minimal financial cost (which is kinda the whole point of business, isn't it?).
All it takes is the time to set everything up, and you can start seeing some massive growth in your business!
2. 85% of retailers agree SEO and paid search are most effective at getting new customers (SEW)
Personally, I’m surprised this number isn’t 100%. It's extremely difficult for me to imagine a scenario in which a retailer knows what SEO is and how to use it, but don’t think it’s the most effective way to get new customers. (Maybe the remaining 15% accidentally spilled coffee on their questionnaire?)
Forgetting the coffee-spillers, the fact that 85% of retailers—one of the biggest industries in the US—agree on something tells you how important SEO is. When’s the last time that many separate businesses all agreed on the same thing? Go ahead, I'll wait...
That’s a ringing endorsement to use SEO (and paid search) to the fullest extent that you’re able—especially if you run an ecommerce business.
However, if you’re not in ecommerce, you can still use this point as a way to show that times are changing in general. If retailers are shifting away from television and focusing on the Internet, you can be sure other industries will as well. These guys are the trendsetters of the marketing industry—if they’re on the move, you know something big is coming!
3. 46% of all mobile searches have local intent (Google) To fully grasp this stat, you also have to know that most search engine queries now come from mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimized for smartphones or tablets, you could be missing out on a gigantic portion of your potential business. (That said, a site that gains functionality from not being optimized is better than an optimized site that isn't as intuitively functional—most people can zoom in an maneuver an unoptimized website. They won't, however, play against a site that seemingly attempts a game of "keep away" with its visitors!) So, if more than 50% of all searches are from mobile devices, and 50% of those are looking for local results, then roughly 25% of all searches are from someone on-the-go who wants to find something local. If you’re in food service or retail, this stat is an especially big deal since you can show potential customers your hours, address, and other essential details. On the flip side, if you’re a B2B company, you can still benefit from local SEO listings and mobile optimization. Leveraging your location to appeal to other local businesses that want to meet you face-to-face, gives you the advantage over amorphous websites that just take someone’s money and give them a product. That’s one of the biggest advantages to running a small, local-oriented business anyway—building a lasting relationship with customers. SEO can help you do just that—when you work for it. 4. 80% of local searches convert (SEW) In case you aren’t tired of overwhelming numbers yet, this stat is enough to convince a lot of business owners to start an SEO strategy immediately. Whatever your goals are—whether you’re an ecommerce company or a masonry specialist—an average of 80% of the local searches that arrive on your website will convert. All you have to do is make sure that those searchers can find you. There's a long list of possibilities as to why the conversion rate for local search is so much higher than the norm. It’s possible that people looking for local results on their mobile phones are more serious about buying something right now, or that they want to get what they need quickly and move on since mobile devices can imply multi-tasking. However, for those of you who don’t care about the “why,” you can just sit back and enjoy your conversions. 5. 37% of consumers are more likely to buy on a mobile responsive site (ExactTarget) As I mentioned in a prior statistic, functionality beats design—generally speaking, at least. That said, if your site can be designed with responsive design, that is preferable. Responsive design isn’t just for mobile users, even though they’re the ones who benefit the most from it. Mobile-optimized websites tend to load faster than non-optimized sites, and when a website loads quickly, you can be sure its visitors will stick around longer than if your site loads like a rusty musket. Combine that with the easy scrolling of mobile sites, the large graphics, and the easy-to-read fonts, and you have a winning recipe for new customers and clients across the board whether they’re on their feet or in an office chair. All you have to do is make sure your website can adapt to different screen sizes. Easy, right? While it's not exactly the hardest thing to do, there's a reason we exist and offer it as a service. 6. Google handles 1 trillion searches per year (SEL) I don’t know about you, but despite my visual mind that is highly helpful when it comes to design and creative applications, whenever I see a number that includes more than six zeros, I can’t visualize it at all. I’ve never once had to use that number in my day-to-day life because it’s never been a distance that I’ve had to travel or an amount in my bank account. 99.9% of the time, “trillion” might as well mean “infinite.” In the event that you’re also in my shoes, picturing Google’s annual search quantity is borderline impossible. Perhaps breaking it down a bit will make it more digestible? Google processes roughly 40,000 searches per second. So, hypothetically, say it took you 30 seconds to read this far in the blog post. Since you started, Google has performed roughly as many search queries as the population of Dallas, Texas. (Did that help? Personally, not much. lol) Anyway, the primary value of this statistic is the sheer leverage that Google has in the online marketplace. If there are 1 trillion searches on a search engine each year, you can bet your bottom dollar that some of them relate to your business or industry. (Probably more than 'some', but I'm all math-ed out... lol) You can do some more digging from there—depending on your specific needs—but once you use Google as a marketing tool, you can grow your business much more quickly than with traditional marketing alone. And maybe someday you’ll achieve every entrepreneur’s dream—diving into a swimming pool of cash like Scrooge McDuck. (Or is that just me?) 7. 31.24% of all clicks go to the top organic search result (Moz) The top search result on Google is prime real estate. This location drives traffic to your site far better than any other area on a search results page, and even though there’s still value to position #2, #3, and so on, #1 is clearly the best. This stat is huge for any company that has that passionate drive to be the best in their industry. If you want a piece of that 1-trillion-searches-per-year pie, your website needs to compete at the top level. I’ll be honest with you, though—it’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Climbing to the top of Google’s search results takes time, planning, strategy, consistency, and a deep understanding of Google’s search algorithm. Beyond that, you need to keep an eye on your competition so you can see what they’re doing with their online presence and protect any digital territory that you’ve fought to secure. And just because you reach the #1 spot doesn’t mean you can stop—if anything, you need to work just as hard to maintain your search position. It’s a tough job, but if you consistently work toward it, it's a possibility for all and probability for most. And, for those who don't have the team-power to direct that way, we're happy to supplement with our expertise. 8. As of February 2015, Google controls 74.8% search market share (StatCounter) While Google might be the King in these parts, other search engines have really filled out the King's court (grown in market share) over the past few years! Bing and Yahoo are leading the charge of the underdogs—partly because Firefox changed its default search engine from Google to Yahoo in 2014—but also because those search engines are improving their algorithms significantly. You can use a lot of similar tactics to rank well on Bing as you would on Google, but the search results pages for different keywords will likely never mirror one another. In that respect, you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts with SEO, considering your ranking on lesser-used search engines like Yahoo can still matter. Concentrating on Google alone means you’re ignoring 25% of your potential business. Still, Google should be your primary focus, at least for now. There’s a reason it’s the most-used search engine—it’s simply the best so far. (Which is why Iconic Media Design is an official Google Partner.) 9 (A). Content marketing generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing (Demand Metric) Some marketers will say that content marketing is arguably a subset of SEO, although some purists prefer to separate them for their strategies. Even with the debate raging, the consensus is unanimous that businesses should use content to bring qualified leads to their websites—which is the definition of "content marketing." Think about all of the leads your business attracts already through traditional media. For every one of them, you could bring in three more to convert into customers or clients. All it takes to create content is a good idea and some quality work. Creating helpful and informative articles or blog posts (like the super helpful one you're reading right now) gives site visitors a reason to check out your business, and the more information you offer, the more likely a visitor will be to stick around and convert. Answering common questions in your industry, addressing problems your customers could face, and virtually anything else your audience may find interesting can bring traffic to your site. Best of all, once you publish your content, it’ll have a chance to rank on search engines until you take it down. It works for you for much, much longer than you worked on it. 9 (B). It also costs 62% less than traditional marketing (Demand Metric) This is just an added perk to content marketing—you can attract new leads for less than half the cost of traditional methods. So not only does content bring in more money for your business, it also lets you save the money you already have. There really is nothing else quite like it—it’s the "golden bullet" of the marketing world. 10. If a post is more than 1500 words, it receives 68.1% more tweets (QuickSprout) Speaking of content, when you’re making it, take the extra time to cover your topic in-depth. Strong, long, and well-thought-out content performs much better on search engines right away, and it improves even more over time so you have a better chance of hitting that diamond-encrusted top spot of the search results. There’s a catch to this one though—don’t write more just to write more. If you go off on tangents and talk about things that have no relation to your page’s stated topic, you won’t help your SEO. Users won’t like it, search engines won’t like it, and you won’t like it when it ranks poorly (or, if you reread it later). Strong content like this is also great for your social media presence, which is (again, arguably) another discipline of SEO. Using Twitter and other social platforms to engage your demographic encourages them to convert, and when you offer them something really, really good, they know it. With that in mind, you can create your awesome, in-depth content, send it into the social world, and let your followers do the advertising work for you. The more they share it, the more other people will see it, and the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business. In an upcoming blog post, I'll cover the easier-than-you-think process of multiplying content for even more leads and conversions—so make sure you subscribe, so you don't miss it! It’s like the world’s greatest line-up of dominoes. Convince your business’s leaders to expand. I don’t know your boss, so I can’t really tell you how to talk to them about actually starting SEO. I can tell you that statistics have a way of being persuasive—especially since they’re regarding growth, ROI, and stone-cold profit! Have a meeting, run into their office, or send them an email to get them thinking about SEO, because if they’re not using it for their business, they’re definitely falling behind. But that’s easier said than done. Like I said before, I never had to do this myself, and thinking of going head-to-head with stubborn business owners when they already disagree sounds like a rough day to me. But if it helps your business grow, it’s worth it. So good luck to you, you intrepid marketing professionals who have to break the ice about SEO with your boss. You have a world’s worth of work to do, but it’s for the best for your company. We marketers who have it easy salute you.