As someone who does SEO for a living, I get this question a lot… how can SEO make money?
The simple answer is, SEO brings a targeted audience to your website (by ranking a website high for very specific keywords) who is often more likely to purchase products/services compared to other forms of marketing.
The initial time it takes to do SEO can be longer than other marketing activities. However the ROI is believed to be much higher and is therefore a more reliable long-term strategy for getting sales. This is especially true because in SEO, you don’t have to pay search engines a cost-per-click like you would if you ran an AdWords campaign.
Now that you know how SEO can make you money, let’s look into how SEO works…
The Money Making SEO Model
Keywords – what products/services do you want to sell more of, and what keywords would people search to find them? Keyword research (tutorial for WordPress) is a key stage of SEO that involves using tools like Google Autocomplete and Keyword Planner to predict what people are searching, and creating a keyword list in the process. This can help you align your content with phrases people are actually searching.
SEO Tasks – these are usually specific to your keywords. Common tasks include adding or tweaking content to target keywords, website optimizations, getting links, and other tasks that should be current with Google’s latest ranking factors. This process is ongoing as maintenance is needed to maintain rankings. SEO is NOT a one-time fix.
Rankings – as you continue to implement SEO tasks, rankings should improve. The search engine ranking position (SERP) for each keyword should be benchmarked beforehand so results can be measured. It can take several weeks (or even months) to see major improvements, since it takes times for search engines to index/update your changes. And building too many links at once can look sketchy and result in a penalty.
Traffic – once you start ranking for some keywords, you should start seeing more traffic from search engines. This traffic should be monitored using tools like Google Analytics so you can learn about those visitors and adjust your website and SEO strategy accordingly.
Conversion Rates – getting traffic is half the battle. Converting that traffic into inquiries and sales is the other half. While SEO and conversion dates do overlap, it’s not the SEO’s primary responsibility to convert visitors into sales. Their job is to get quality traffic from search engines, and it’s usually the web designer’s job to increase conversion rates.
Inquiries & Sales – assuming your SEO and conversion rates are working, the combined efforts should result in more inquiries/sales through your website. You can also use tactics like affiliate marketing (tutorial for WordPress users) and advertising to monetize traffic.
SEO Maintenance – since rankings are never permanent, SEO maintenance is a must. New keywords also can be added to your campaign so you can further increase traffic and sales.
5 Ways To Make Money With SEO
SEO Yields A High ROI – obviously this depends on the person you hire as well as your own SEO capabilities. But in general, SEO does yield one of the highest ROIs of all marketing activities. This is mainly because of how targeted it is. And you don’t have to pay Google a cost-per-click (unlike AdWords).
Better Leads, Better Customers – think of how far in the decision making process an SEO lead is. They already searched a keyword (often clearly intending to make a purchase), they clicked on your website, read your content, and they’ve made the decision to contact you. As far as selling goes, your website and SEO have pretty much already done most of this for you.
SEO Increases The Value Of Your Website – whether or not you’re looking to exit out of your business, SEO adds tremendous value to your website. Search engine traffic is one of the most valuable types of traffic since it’s both targeted and stable.
Affiliate Marketing – blogging is a key part of SEO, however monetizing blog traffic can be tricky. Thankfully you can use affiliate marketing to make commissions off products your refer visitors to – instead of just relying on blog posts to generate direct sales. Depending on your strategy you can also use advertising and other methods to monetize your SEO traffic.
Improves Overall Branding – once example I like to refer to is the use of online reviews (eg. in Yelp), which is a ranking factor in Google Maps. By getting these reviews you’re improving both your rankings and branding (since those review stars can also be seen when people Google your business name). There are many examples of this in SEO.