When I started working in marketing, I was lucky — I worked internally for a company, and someone else had already done all the heavy lifting to make sure the company would invest in SEO. They talked to the boss, they knew all the stats, and they made a department that could grow the company.
But I didn’t know back then just how hard it could be to convince some companies to utilize SEO, especially if you work for a small business in a small town. That mentality — at least as I’ve seen it — is based on tradition instead of innovation, not always because that’s what works best, but because it just works. Why fix what ain’t broke?
Fast-forward a few years, and I now have some perspective on how hard those first marketers had it, the ones who had to push against a set-in-stone marketing plan built on traditional avenues. They had it rough, and even though it’s 2015, there are still a lot of small businesses out there that haven’t started using SEO yet.
So in the event you aren’t as lucky as I was, and now you’re the one convincing your boss that SEO is worth it, these ten stats can give you the extra oomf you need to succeed.
1. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate (Hubspot)
If this sounds realistic to you, then you either haven’t worked in marketing for long or you know SEO backwards and forwards.
Regardless, it’s important to know that this is not normal.
Outbound sourced leads — like those that you get through cold calls or other traditional methods — have a close rate of 1.7% (also from Hubspot). That means for every one client you gain with outbound marketing, SEO gets you 8.5 more — in theory, anyway.
Combine that with all of the other stats on this page (oh, just you wait and see), and you’re suddenly looking at a massive payout for minimal financial cost. It just takes time to set everything up, and you can start seeing some massive growth in your business.
2. 85% of retailers agree SEO and paid search are most effective at getting new customers (SEW)
Personally, I’m surprised this number isn’t 100%. I can’t picture a scenario in which a retailer knows what SEO is and how to use it, but they don’t think it’s the most effective way to get new customers.
Maybe the remaining 15% accidentally spilled coffee on their questionnaire.
Forgetting the coffee-spillers, the fact that 85% of retailers — one of the biggest industries in the country — agree on something tells you how important SEO is. When’s the last time that many separate businesses all agreed on the same thing?
That’s a ringing endorsement to use SEO (and paid search) to the fullest extent that you’re able, especially if you run an ecommerce business.
If you’re not in ecommerce, you can still use this point as a way to show that times are changing in general. If retailers are shifting away from television and focusing on the Internet, you can be sure other industries will as well. These guys are the trendsetters of the marketing industry.
If they’re on the move, you know something big is coming.
3. 50% of all mobile searches are for local results (SEW)
To fully grasp this stat, you also have to know that most search engine queries now come from mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimized for smartphones or tablets, you could be missing out on a gigantic portion of your potential business.
So if more than 50% of all searches are from mobile devices, and 50% of those are looking for local results, then roughly 25% of all searches are from someone on-the-go who wants to find something local. If you’re in food service or retail, this stat is an especially big deal since you can show potential customers your hours, address, and other essential details.
On the flip side, if you’re a B2B company, you can still benefit from local SEO listings and mobile optimization. You can leverage your location to appeal to other local businesses that want to meet you face-to-face, giving you the advantage over amorphous websites that just take someone’s money and give them a product.
That’s one of the biggest advantages to running a small, local-oriented business anyway — building lasting relationship with customers. SEO can help you do just that when you work for it.
4. 80% of local searches convert (SEW)
In case you aren’t tired of overwhelming numbers yet, this stat is enough to convince a lot of business owners to start an SEO strategy immediately.
Whatever your goals are — whether you’re an ecommerce company or a masonry specialist — an average of 80% of the local searches that arrive on your website will convert. All you have to do is make sure that those searchers can find you.
There are a lot of possible reasons why the conversion rate for local search is so much higher than the norm. It’s possible that people looking for local results on their mobile phones are more serious about buying something right now. It could also be because searchers want to get what they need quickly and move on since mobile devices can imply multi-tasking. Then again, maybe people who search locally are just more serious about buying.
Although for those of you who don’t care about the “why,” you can just sit back and enjoy your conversions.
5. 37% of consumers are more likely to buy on a mobile responsive site (ExactTarget)
Responsive design isn’t just for mobile users, even though they’re the ones who benefit the most from it. Mobile-optimized websites tend to load faster than non-optimized sites, and when a website loads quickly, you can be sure its visitors will stick around longer than if your site loads like a rusty musket.
Combine that with the easy scrolling of mobile sites, the large graphics, and the easy-to-read fonts, and you have a winning recipe for new customers and clients across the board whether they’re on their feet or in an office chair.
All you have to do is make sure your website can adapt to different screen sizes. Easy, right?
6. Google handles 1 trillion searches per year (SEL)
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a number that includes more than six zeros, I can’t visualize it at all. I’ve never once had to use that number in my day-to-day life because it’s never been a distance that I’ve had to travel or an amount in my bank account. 99.9% of the time, “trillion” might as well mean “infinite.”
In the event that you’re also in my shoes, picturing Google’s annual search quantity is borderline impossible.
To break it down a little better, Google processes roughly 40,000 searches per second. So, hypothetically, say it took you 30 seconds to read this far in the blog post. Since you started, Google has performed roughly as many search queries as the population of Dallas, Texas.
Anyway, the primary value of this stat is the sheer leverage that Google has in the online marketplace. If there are 1 trillion searches on a search engine each year, you can bet your bottom dollar that some of them relate to your business or industry.
You can do some more digging from there depending on your specific needs, but once you use Google as a marketing tool, you can grow your business much more quickly than with traditional marketing alone.
And maybe someday you’ll achieve every entrepreneur’s dream — diving into a swimming pool of cash like Scrooge McDuck.
7. 31.24% of all clicks go to the top organic search result (Moz)
The top search result on Google is prime real estate. This location drives traffic to your site far better than any other area on a search results page, and even though there’s still value to position #2, #3, and so on, #1 is clearly the best.
This stat is huge for any company that has that passionate drive to be the best in their industry. If you want a piece of that 1-trillion-searches-per-year pie, your website needs to compete at the top level. I’ll be honest with you though — it’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight.
Climbing to the top of Google’s search results takes time, planning, strategy, consistency, and a deep understanding of Google’s search algorithm. On top of that, you need to keep an eye on your competition so you can see what they’re doing with their online presence and protect any digital territory that you’ve fought to secure. And just because you reach the #1 spot doesn’t mean you can stop — if anything, you need to work just as hard to maintain your search position.
It’s a tough job, but if you consistently work toward it, you can be the digital Jake LaMotta of your industry.
Just, you know, without the punching.
8. As of February 2015, Google controls 74.8% search market share (StatCounter)
While Google might be the alpha male of the search engine wolf pack, other search engines have grown in market share over the past few years. Bing and Yahoo are leading the charge of the underdogs, partly because Firefox changed its default search engine from Google to Yahoo in 2014, and partly because those search engines are improving their algorithms significantly.
You can use a lot of similar tactics to rank well on Bing as you would on Google, but the search results pages for different keywords will likely never mirror one another. In that respect, you’re fighting a war on multiple fronts with SEO, and your ranking on lesser-used search engines like Yahoo can still matter. Concentrating on Google alone means you’re ignoring 25% of your potential business.
Still, Google should be your primary focus, at least for now. There’s a reason it’s the most-used search engine — it’s simply the best so far.
But even when you’re obsessing over the pack’s alpha male, you still have to pay attention to the pups. They can grow up so fast.
9. Content marketing generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing (Demand Metric)
Content marketing is arguably a subset of SEO, although some purists prefer to separate them for their strategies.
Still, even with the debate raging, the consensus is unanimous that businesses should use content to bring qualified leads to their websites.
Think about all of the leads your business attracts already through traditional media. For every one of them, you could bring in three more to convert into customers or clients.
All it takes to create content is a good idea and some quality work. Creating helpful and informative articles or blog posts gives site visitors a reason to check out your business, and the more information you offer, the more likely a visitor will be to stick around and convert.
Answering common questions in your industry, addressing problems your customers could face, and virtually anything else your audience may find interesting can bring traffic to your site.
Best of all, once you publish your content, it’ll have a chance to rank on search engines until you take it down. It works for you for much, much longer than you worked on it.
9a. It also costs 62% less than traditional marketing (Demand Metric)
This is just an added perk to content marketing — you can attract new leads for less than half the cost of traditional methods. So not only does content bring in more money for your business, it also lets you save the money you already have.
There’s nothing else quite like it — it’s the golden bullet of the marketing world.
10. If a post is more than 1500 words, it receives 68.1% more tweets (QuickSprout)
Speaking of content, when you’re making it, take the extra time to cover your topic in-depth. Strong, long, and well-thought-out content performs much better on search engines right away, and it improves even more over time so you have a better chance of hitting that diamond-encrusted top spot of the search results.
There’s a catch to this one though — don’t write more just to write more. If you go off on tangents and talk about things that have no relation to your page’s stated topic, you won’t help your SEO. Users won’t like it, search engines won’t like it, and you won’t like it when it ranks poorly.
Strong content like this is also great for your social media presence, which is (again, arguably) another discipline of SEO. Using Twitter and other social platforms to engage your demographic encourages them to convert, and when you offer them something really, really good, they know it.
With that in mind, you can create your awesome, in-depth content, send it into the social world, and let your followers do the advertising work for you. The more they share it, the more other people will see it, and the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business.
It’s like the world’s greatest line-up of dominoes.
Convince your business’s leaders to expand
I don’t know your boss, so I can’t really tell you how to talk to them about actually starting SEO. I can tell you that statistics have a way of being persuasive, especially since they’re about growth, ROI, and stone-cold profit.
Have a meeting, run into their office, or send them an email to get them thinking about SEO, because if they’re not using it for their business, they’re definitely falling behind.
But that’s easier said than done. Like I said before, I never had to do this myself, and thinking of going head-to-head with stubborn business owners when they already disagree sounds like a rough day to me.
But if it helps your business grow, it’s worth it.
So good luck to you, you intrepid marketing professionals who have to break the ice about SEO with your boss. You have a world’s worth of work to do, but it’s for the best for your company.
We marketers who have it easy salute you.