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Search Engine Optimisation – Why it’s Important and is it Worth the Investment

Many companies overlook the importance of SEO for creating a sustainable, cost-effective and high-quality traffic acquisition model and leave it to the luck of the draw if they rank in Google or not.

by Eamonn O’Raghallaigh PhD

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website to rank higher in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO can drive organic traffic to a website by making it more visible and relevant to search engines and users. Generally, organic search traffic has high conversion and engagement rates and tends to be higher quality than paid traffic. SEO is a fundamental cornerstone of the digital marketing mix and unfortunately, not many companies recognise the importance and value of SEO in driving their business forward. It is by default, highly targeted traffic as the user is landing on your website based on the search keywords they entered into the search engine query, its higher quality as their intent is high as they are in an active research, exploration or evaluation phase of their customer journey and is sustainable as traffic is not dependent on media budgets.

What does SEO Involve?

SEO involves several distinct, yet connected work streams, including keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, technical SEO, and content creation. Keyword research involves finding keywords aligned to a business’s products or services and incorporating them into the website’s content, tags and metadata. On-page optimization involves improving the content and structure of a website, making it more relevant and user-friendly. Off-page optimization involves building backlinks to a website from other relevant sites. Technical SEO involves improving the technical aspects of a website, such as its speed and accessibility. Content creation involves creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content to attract and retain users. 

SEO works by improving the relevance, quality, and user experience of a website. By doing so, search engines are able to recognize the value of a website and rank it higher in search results. The more relevant and high-quality a website is, the higher it will rank in search results, increasing its visibility and reach. Additionally, a website that provides a positive user experience is more likely to retain visitors, leading to increased engagement and conversions.

Why is SEO Important?

SEO provides several benefits to businesses, including increased visibility, reach, and engagement. By ranking higher in search engine results, businesses can increase their visibility and reach a wider audience and at a much more favourable cost than investing similar amounts of budget in paid channels. Furthermore, SEO continues to drive traffic even when media budgets are tight or exhausted. SEO traffic also tends to be higher quality and more aligned to consumer intent. By default, SEO optimization activities on websites improves user experience and by providing a positive user experience and engaging content, businesses can retain visitors, leading to increased engagement and conversions.

Is SEO Worth the Investment?

SEO can provide a high return on investment (ROI) for businesses. By increasing visibility, reach, and engagement, SEO can drive more traffic to a website and result in increased sales and conversions. Additionally, SEO provides long-term benefits, as opposed to traditional advertising methods that require ongoing investment. Over time, businesses that invest in SEO can establish a strong online presence and reap the benefits of increased visibility and reach, which continue long after media budgets are exhausted. 

Whether SEO is worth the investment depends on the specific needs and goals of a business. For businesses that want to increase their visibility and reach a wider audience, SEO can provide significant benefits. Traditionally, SEO is of high value to businesses where the respective CPC’s are expensive and paid traffic is expensive and competitive. SEO can give a significant competitive advantage in these instances. Ultimately, the decision of whether to invest in SEO should be based on a business’s specific needs and goals, as well as the resources and budget available for investment.

Is it Worth Paying for SEO Professional Services?

Engaging a professional SEO agency can provide several benefits to businesses, including increased expertise and resources. SEO professionals have a deep understanding of the industry and can provide tailored strategies and tactics that are optimised for a business’s specific needs and goals. Engaging a professional agency can provide access to additional resources, such as tools and technologies, that can help improve a business’s online presence. These tools can be expensive to purchase for a once off project and the agency benefits from at-scale pricing. Generally, a good idea would be to get a professional agency to do the initial best practice setup, where their expertise is invaluable and then retain them on an ongoing basis to provide technical oversight, while hiring an in-house resource to drive the project forward in a cost effective manner.

If you decide to go the do-it-yourself SEO route, it’s a steep learning curve, especially with the technical SEO and research components. You will need some basic html experience to be able to review code on the back end of your website and review the technical aspects including elements such as robots.txt and sitemap.xml elements. Keyword research will require some elements of experience with the Google Ads platform and if you use WordPress as a CMS, knowledge of plugins such as Yoast will be important. You may need to invest some budget into tools such as SEMRush or another rank tracker to be able to prove the success of your efforts.

How Much Does SEO Cost in Ireland?

The cost of SEO services in Ireland can vary greatly depending on a number of different factors, including the size and complexity of a business’s website, the target audience, the number of different product or service themes, the number of geo’s you are targeting and the specific SEO strategies and tactics that will be used. 

The average cost of SEO services in Ireland can range from €80 per hour to €150 per hour depending on the size of the agency and the expertise level of the SEO specialist.  Usually, a company will need to invest about 1.5 to 2 days minimum per month (12-16 hours) so generally the cost can be anywhere between €1,500 to €2,500 per month. To put this in perspective, if you were targeting financial keywords in Google Ads, the average cpc would be around €5 per click, so the general SEO investment would be the same as buying 400 clicks per month from AdWords. The difference with SEO is that the clicks continue to come even after the SEO project finishes and long term sustainable traffic acquisition is achieved, resulting in a better return-on-investment than paid media alone. Usually the agency will start with a project which is front-loaded to get most of the planning, research and technical seo hygiene factors out of the way in the first few months and then revert to a monthly retainer as the project progresses.

Final Thoughts

Many companies overlook the importance of SEO for creating a sustainable, cost-effective and high-quality traffic acquisition model and leave it to the luck of the draw if they rank in Google or not. From experience dealing with companies of all shapes and sizes over the years, SEO is often an afterthought and something that sorts itself out. For my business, SEO has been a critical success factor and a significant driver of my business. The sustainable high quality traffic that is not dependent on media spend becomes a much bigger factor when the economic environment becomes more challenging and media budgets are the first for the chop. Companies who have embraced SEO and its importance tend to do very well in these challenging environments.

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