When you start talking to experts in organic SEO, one of the first things they tell you is that if you quit the SEO game before you attain first page placement for at least a few of your choicest keywords, you probably shouldn’t bother doing SEO in the first place.
The reason why they would say that is pretty well established: less than 2% of all searchers get to Page 2, so if you’re on that first page, you’re basically getting nothing compared to what you could get if you were in the first few spots. Does that really mean that SEO is a complete waste if you don’t hit Page One, though?
To get into the nitty-gritty and answer that question correctly, we have to look at what SEO does for a website.
- Builds ranking — obviously, the primary function of SEO is to shoot your website up in the rankings for your targeted keywords. If you don’t get a high enough rank to see meaningful search traffic, you’ve failed this part of the equation.
- Widens your sales funnel — every page that links to your website becomes part of your sales funnel; the complete set of link-chains that will eventually take someone to your site. Even if you don’t get a first page placement, building backlinks will widen your sales funnel.
- Builds authority — authority is a tricky notion, because it comes from so many sources. Your page becomes more authoritative based on how much relevant content it has and how old it is; your site becomes more authoritative based on how many backlinks from unique root domains point at it and how many relevant pages it contains. Even if you don’t get first page placement, organic SEO will still help build authority — which is important because if you come back in the future to ‘finish the job’, you’ll already be partway there.
So, is first page placement the ONLY reason you would ever purchase SEO? No. SEO helps your website in other ways as well. But generally, SEO is priced on the assumption that you’ll shoot for first page placement, so it might not be a very good buy if you’re not going to go for the gold…and really, why wouldn’t you?