Sunday, November 6, 2016

Are You a Part of the $65 Billion SEO Economy? Should You Be?

Earlier this year, we cited a report by  Borrell Associates, a local media forecaster, that estimated SEO spending for 2016 to be just over $65 billion; by 2020, the report said, SEO spending will grow to $80 billion. The report--which must be accessed with a subscription--argued "the two categories that businesses spend the most on--web hosting and design--are switching positions with SEO and social media management."

The Internet, Borrell argued, has entered a new phase: "advertisers have finished the basic structure of their digital storefronts and are venturing out into their SIMS-like communities to find virtual customers."

As Search Engine Land noted at the time, the report may cause skepticism, and we tended to agree. True SEO spending numbers, we believe, are nearly impossible to quantify. The industry is simply too complex to define, let alone measure. Borrell's $65 billion estimate for 2016 may exaggerate or underestimate "total SEO spending."

The second part of Borrell's assertion quoted here, that most websites have moved beyond design and development and are now investing in SEO and social media management, also may or may not be true. On the one hand, new website growth has definitely slowed. Although the web welcomes new websites every day, the overall number of websites remains relatively stable at one billion. On the other hand, many of these websites never progress beyond design and development.

A chart from Internet Live Stats,
which says that the number of websites seems to have stabilized at one billion--for now.
It's no secret, of course, that in today's local, national, or global markets a a good website is standard operating procedure. But, as our blog's sponsor, Alex Stepman, often says, "Most of these websites are nothing but high-priced business cards." Stepman's implication is that many websites do not perform  marketing or optimization. These websites are often hard to find without a direct address. Like a business card, the website address must be revealed prior to discovery.

With good optimization, the opposite is true: a website is revealed after a relevant search--preferably on Google's first SERP (search engine results page). Of course, optimization cannot guarantee a first page result. If you're engaged in the $65 billion SEO economy, though, your website should be outperforming competitor's websites.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, even with SEO. Too often, SEO expenses are wasted on bad firms.

This was, essentially, Mike Templeman's assertion in his Entrepreneur article, which also cited the Borrell report.

Read: "Companies Will Spend $65 Billion on SEO in 2016, Much of it Will Be Wasted."

First, we must say, Templeman seemingly takes Borrell's finding as a matter of fact--odd, we thought, for an article that attempts to derail the SEO industry as "snake oil salesmen."

"I believe that the SEO industry, and the digital marketing industry in general is full of snake oil salespeople," Templeman wrote.

"I run a marketing agency," he added. "I have to hear dozens of horror stories every week about wasted budgets, sites damaged beyond repair, digital campaigns that produce zero results and everything else business owners and marketers are terrified of."

We agree with Templeman's sentiment here, although we have to say, his article is short on specifics, draws sweeping conclusions from singular examples, and fails to note a single example of an honest, hardworking SEO firm that utilizes budgets effectively, improves sites, and produces real results.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Templeman's implication is that his marketing agency, Foxtail Marketing, which he links to quickly, is the example of an honest, hardworking SEO firm; "much" of the other agencies however will "waste" your money.

In a way, we agree with this assessment, too. Too many SEO firms peddle in snake oil, making false claims in a spammy way. Yet a reputable SEO firm is not entirely rare. As Templeman implies, you need a process for finding a good match.

SEO is a straight-forward process. You don't want to waste your money on "snake oil salesmen."
Instead, find a firm that can explain SEO to you in a straightforward way
. [Photo Source].
Whatever the true SEO spending number, we know for certain one simple fact: Website optimization is an engine to new customers, profits, and success. If you sell a high-quality product, with a good price, a well-planned and well-executed online marketing campaign, which includes organic SEO, will deliver success.

However, we understand, not every website is necessarily looking for new customers, profits, and success. Of the billion or so websites, in fact, most are not looking for customers, profits, and success.

Unfortunately, our experience also reveals that a majority of online businesses that are looking for new customers, profits, and success, are not performing website optimization--are not, in fact, engaging in any Internet marketing whatsoever.

Borrell estimates the total number of digital marketing spending to be close to $613 billion.

Should you be a part of this digital marketing economy? Should you hire an SEO firm to perform website optimization? The answer is dependent on your goals.

Many businesses really do use websites as business cards. Brick and mortars, especially, use websites as simple information portals.

Of course, even if your website is not a storefront, you can profit from your online presence.

How do you drive customers to your brick and mortar? Traditional advertising? Today, online advertisement is much more effective than traditional advertisements--especially for local brick and mortars.

The problem, we understand, is simple: Many business owners are dissuaded by the cost of  digital marketing. For many businesses, though, the costs of doing nothing exceed the expense of marketing.

And perhaps this is the ultimate qualification for any website. Do you need marketing to survive? Do you need new customers? If so, you need digital marketing. You need SEO.

Is your indecisiveness costing you money? Call Stepman's PC!

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. And do not fall for the charms of SEO snake oil salesmen. Find a firm that can speak to you about SEO in simple, precise terms.

Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional. You need Stepman's PC.