Every business I have ever spoken to has unanimously agreed, they would love to be on page one of Google for the keywords directly related to their business. Most believe they deserve to be at the top, and the majority don’t understand why they’re not. Let’s discover exactly what those reasons are, but first know this.
You do not have to pay for search engine optimization in order to rank on page one of Google for keywords directly related to your business. However, there is a fair amount of work to do in order to rank if those keywords are competitive.
However, unfortunately, the question is not so cut and dry as to whether you need to pay for search engine optimization. First, you need to understand what’s involved in Search Engine Optimization (commonly referred to as SEO), so you can better determine if you should pay for the service, DIY the process, or a combination of professional services and DIY.
Why or Why Not Pay for Search Engine Optimization
There are many articles online discussing tips and tricks on how to rank with search engines for your business. But no matter what tactic(s) you are employing there are three components that need to be present in order for your business to rank.
You need to be aware of what’s involved in search engine optimization to determine if you are up for the workload to come.
Those components are what are referred to as on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and user experience. Each of these has different weight values with Google which currently evaluates over 200 factors for derterming rank (none of which are made public).
On-page optimization can be intimidating to the average person. This can involve simple tweaks to your website such as intuitive menu structure to the more complex, page speed, and everything in between.
Off-page optimization, on the other hand, has a lot to do with link building and content distribution. Which in itself can be laborious, but also includes a good understanding of keyword research, Google Search Console, identifying errors and warnings and acting on them expediently.
All of this may sound complicated and granted if it is not your primary business, it’s understandable. But from a time investment perspective, these aspects of SEO are small compared to content creation. This is where the ability to perform SEO for your own business becomes a major challenge for many businesses and may be a good reason to pay for SEO.
The final and most important component to ranking with Google is user experience. But what does that really mean?
User experience is where the greatest focus should be, but often is ignored, or an afterthought for most businesses and SEO’s alike. For many businesses attempting to do SEO, just maintaining a reasonable content load can be challenging. Determining if the content resonates with its user base is a luxury few have time for.
The same holds true for many SEO’s. They see their ultimate metric is ranking as fast as they can for their client. This often leads to a focus on the volume of content versus the quality of content. Unfortunately for a user, that is less than desirable.
The reality is, this final component is in fact the most important component to ranking with Google. Let’s find out why.
How Google Determines Rank or SERP (Search Engine Rank Position)
Nobody knows for sure how Google ranks websites. As mentioned there are over two-hundred ranking factors. But think for a minute about what business Google is in. If you said advertising you would be right on.
In 2018 70.7% of Google’s revenue came from Advertising.Statista – Click to see report findings.
Therefore if more than two-thirds of a companies revenue comes from one source, you can be sure, they will protect that source with all their might! Which leads to the question, how do they protect that revenue.
In order for Google to have a large audience to sell advertising to, they need to ensure that audience keeps coming back. In order to do this, they need to deliver a product (Google Search) that people trust and believe is the best source. Enter Search Engine Ranking.
Therefore it makes sense, in order to keep users happy, that ‘user experience’ is the most important factor to Google. When someone searches for anything, they want to deliver the best possible results for that user, to ensure the user experience is exactly spot on.
Unfortunately due to volume, Google must rely on the machine to evaluate user experience, and this is where content becomes critical.
Imagine if User A searches ‘how to perform search engine optimization’. They then proceed to the first article listed. They spend a few minutes there and then close their browser. One might assume, they found what they were looking for.
Compare this to User B that searches the same thing, goes to the first listing, hits the back button, goes to the second, and then the third, and so on. One might assume, their user experience was not necessarily meeting expectations.
If you are to compare these ‘experiences’, the second one may concern Google, and when multiplied by thousands or even millions of searches, Google is able to slowly but surely determine what sites deliver the greatest user experience that keeps their users loyal to their search engine.
Is there a Guarantee to Rank with Search Engine Optimization
Here are some facts;
- Nobody knows exactly how Google ranks websites (over 200 ranking factors)
- Most searches produce results of hundreds of thousands to millions of websites >> competition!
- It is critical for Google to provide the best results to users to ensure continued loyalty
- Algorithms and ranking is continuously changing and evolving for improved user experience
With the risk of sounding redundant, I think it goes without saying, that based on these facts, that there is no way to guarantee that you will rank in the first position with Google today, tomorrow, or anytime in the future.
What are the Benefits of Paying for Search Engine Optimization
Google is always indexing websites and evolving. With one core mission. Provide the best user experience. Because they do not communicate the rules of the game, they can change them at will.
A good Search Engine Optimization service, is continuously monitoring for clues of these changes and applying best practices to assist clients in ever improving results.
They are concerned with producing quality content that provides a great user experience. They monitor the results of this content and modify it as required. They are consistently producing new content, which Google has repeatedly admitted, is important to them.
They have the technical abilities in-house to respond to issues, improve site performance, and make recommendations on improvements.
A good SEO company does not make promises they cannot keep or control, but is in it for the long game and is transparent with their clients when it comes to content, strategy, results, and challenges.
What are the Risks to Paying for Search Engine Optimization
The greatest risk in paying for search engine optimization, is hiring a company that attempts to force results unnaturally with Google and as a result, ends up hurting your ranking, or worse yet, results in penalizations from Google on your website.
Additionally, when you trust a company to produce content on your behalf, be sure that you are satisfied with the content that bears your company name. This goes without saying, but once the content is out there in the world wide web, it’s out there for potentially ever.
Final Thoughts and Summary
Unless you have the budget to hire internal writers, link builders, webmasters, analysts, programmers, and designers, I believe it only makes sense to pay for search engine optimization. However there are definite caveats to this.
Be sure to perform your due diligence on your hiring. Understand what the SEO company is going to do, what they will not do, and how they will report to you. Set some base metrics, and reasonable targets and timelines. Evaluate performance quarterly.
With the right SEO company partnership, you will tap into more traffic and potential business growth than you likely realize possible, and the results can be outstanding.
Additional Recommended Reading on SEO
Some additional articles that may be beneficial around search engine optimization:
- Here are 7 Ranking Factors that never go out of style with Google
- Should you even perform Search Engine Optimization, or are you better off buying Google Ads
- Let’s bust some common SEO myths and not get taken