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The effectiveness of SEO

I was recently asked "If everyone is doing SEO then we are no better off than before. Is there any data/research on the effectiveness of SEO?” I asked Chris from Dejan SEO to help out and answer this question -

On the face of it SEO appears to be a zero sum game. Everyone competes for keywords with each movement in rank creating a winner and a loser. If everyone does the same thing then little changes, right? To some extent this is true. Competition for most high value keywords is fierce and efforts are often focused on maintaining a position. The reality though for most businesses is different.

There are three things to consider:

  1. The complete role of SEO.
  2. The impact of poorly optimized content.
  3. The effectiveness of SEO most businesses.


The Complete Role of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is often taken only to mean ‘increasing ranking through making changes to the technical aspects of a website and building links’. There is some debate in the industry as to whether SEOs should stick to this name or start using the term Inbound Marketing instead. Why? Here’s a list of tasks SEOs typically carry out:

  • Keyword Research
  • Market Analysis
  • Strategy Development
  • Technical Optimization
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Content Creation
  • Link Building
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Reputation Management
  • Traffic Analysis

Rather than creating a situation where a company battles it out for a single keyword, SEO is about finding opportunities in the market, optimizing to rank highly, achieving higher click through & conversion rates whilst increasing user engagement.

By doing this a business can broaden its focus and avoid a direct fight for a single keyword as well as reducing dependence on traffic from Google. Businesses who do this can also avoid a stalemate situation occurring.


The Impact of Poorly Optimized Content

The job of SEO is not just to promote a site, but also to identify issues that could lead to penalties. Of course everyone can fix these issues and results will remain the same, but failure to spot them and incurring a penalty could see a site struggle to even rank for its name.

Engaging in proper SEO will help identify the problems before the penalty and stop your site falling off the map whilst your competitors remain on the first page of the search engines.


Is There Any Data/Research On The Effectiveness Of SEO?

Yes. Every month our clients receive a report for results. Here are a couple of quick examples:

The graph below shows the increase in visits for one of our new clients for a two month period. The orange line shows visits in May, the blue line shows visits in June. This client saw a 25% increase in traffic, in their first month.

Graph Showing Effectivness Of SEO

The graph below, similar to the first, is for another client showing visits over a two month period. This client saw a 56% increase in traffic.

Graph showing SEOs effect on traffic

The final graph is of a client who saw a 63% increase in visits.

Graph Showing Increases In Traffic

These clients operate in competitive industries including finance, camping supplies and entertainment, with much larger players in the market. Each of them saw an increase in the number of visits over the last reporting period. The same is true for the majority of our clients.



SEO is not only about increasing rank for a narrow range of keywords but identifying opportunities and effectively targeting them. This prevents a situation where companies compete so closely for keywords that neither will see an increase in ranking.

The function of proper SEO is also to prevent a decrease in ranking. Whilst you could avoid competition by targeting different keywords a penalty will result in rankings so low your customer will never be able to find you.

Finally, clients see positive changes on a monthly basis. If they did not they would leave. This is true the world over. SEO is a long term cost effective solution. It is also one of the fastest growing industries, even in a challenging economic climate.

Undoubtedly there are markets where clients will see little movement without a big budget. If you’re trying to target ‘Cheap Flights’ or ‘Car Insurance’ it’s going to be an uphill struggle. These are high value keywords with large, multinational corporations targeting them. Instead, a good SEO process will help identify other opportunities and help business convert a greater amount of existing traffic.

Business on the internet is no different to business anywhere else. It’s important to create a point of difference, be that through targeting a separate niche, strengthening your brand through social media or making your store/website more attractive to your customers. The likelihood of all players in a market doing the same thing, equally well, through each of these channels, is slim.

Guest Post By Chris Butterworth, Technical SEO at Dejan SEO Brisbane

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