Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) to increase visibility and traffic. Many businesses invest in SEO with the goal of gaining more customers and revenue. But does SEO actually help make money, or is it just a waste of time and resources?
The short answer is yes, SEO can absolutely make you money if done correctly. By ranking higher in search results for valuable keywords, an SEO strategy brings in more visitors who are actively looking for your products or services. This increased visibility and traffic provides more sales and conversion opportunities.
However, SEO requires patience and effort to work. It is not a quick money-making tactic. To understand how SEO can contribute to your business’s bottom line, let’s explore some key ways it helps make money:
1. Increased Website Traffic from Search Engines
The primary goal of SEO is to improve rankings in SERPs for important and relevant search terms. The higher your pages rank for valuable keywords, the more searchers will find your site. This is free and targeted traffic straight from Google and other search engines.
More traffic to your site means more people can view your products or services. If they are looking for what you offer, they are much more likely to convert into paying customers compared to other sources of web traffic. The buying intent is already there.
Studies show that traffic from search results has some of the highest conversion rates compared to other sources like social media or display ads. So more organic search visibility through SEO delivers very valuable visitors to your site.
Just how much more traffic can high search rankings drive? Here are some statistics:
- The #1 ranking position in Google results gets over 30% of all clicks for that keyword
- 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results
- Landing on page one delivers up to 10x more traffic compared to page two
- First page rankings drive over 90% of all search traffic
Clearly, appearing on that coveted first page for your target keywords will massively boost relevant organic traffic. More visibility means tapping into more of the 3.5 billion monthly searches globally across Google alone.
Even small improvements in rankings can make a big difference in traffic volume. SEO is scalable and compounds over time – the more high-value keywords you rank for, the more free traffic keeps pouring in.
2. Lower Customer Acquisition Costs
Paid advertising like PPC and Facebook ads can help drive traffic to your site quickly. But these visitors come with a cost, often adding up to high customer acquisition costs. This cuts into potential profits earned per customer.
SEO traffic, on the other hand, comes “free” once your site rankings are in place. The only costs are the time and effort put into optimizing the site. So visitors from SEO provide essentially zero customer acquisition costs over the long run.
This means SEO can grow your customer base and revenue at higher profit margins. Any marketing tactic that reduces customer acquisition costs will directly impact your bottom line in a positive way.
Just how much can SEO lower your customer acquisition costs over other paid media? Here are some examples:
- SEO traffic costs up to 7-8x less than Facebook ad traffic
- Visitors from organic search convert up to 14.6% higher compared to paid search ads
- 50% of businesses say SEO provides the lowest cost per acquisition of any channel
Clearly, SEO delivers highly qualified visitors at a fraction of the cost of paid ads. Lower customer acquisition costs mean higher lifetime value and profits per customer. This goes straight to your bottom line.
3. More Sales Opportunities & Conversions
When people are searching for something using Google or other search engines, they are usually actively looking to make a purchase or find a solution. They have an immediate need or intent.
If your site shows up for what they are searching for, you have a prime opportunity to convert them into a customer. Pages ranking on the first page of results can convert over 10 times higher compared to sites on page two or below.
By getting on that first SERP and attracting searchers, SEO puts your site in front of motivated prospects ready to buy. You essentially gain a free sales team finding leads for your business 24/7. More qualified traffic and sales opportunities mean higher revenues.
What is the real power of those newly acquired leads from SEO in terms of conversion rates? Consider these statistics:
- Visitors from organic search convert up to 4x higher than other referral traffic
- Websites earning first page Google rankings enjoy a 95% higher conversion rate
- SEO-driven leads have conversion rates of 14.6% vs 2.7% from outbound marketing
Clearly, appearing prominently for commercial search queries generates visitors ready to take action. Capitalizing on this high-converting traffic with compelling calls-to-action and conversion optimization is key to realizing ROI from SEO traffic.
4. Increased Brand Visibility & Authority
Beyond immediate sales, SEO can also help build brand visibility, reputation, and authority over the long term.
Ranking high in search results puts your brand in front of more targeted searchers. They will start associating your brand with the keywords and topics you rank for. This repetition starts to build awareness as an authority site people can trust.
Appearing on page one also lends an air of credibility compared to lower-ranked sites. Searchers tend to favor and click sites near the top, especially the top 3 organic results. They assume upfront the site must be a reliable source of information on the topic.
With greater visibility and authority, customers are more likely to choose your brand over competitors. They’ll be more familiar with your business and confident in the quality you provide.
What are some examples of the brand visibility lift SEO can provide?
- 91% of smartphone users have made a purchase from a brand they found via organic search
- 77% of B2B buyers said keywords and rankings increased their brand awareness
- Websites on page one see a 34% higher brand impact compared to page two
By consistently ranking for commercial and informational keywords, you increase familiarity with your brand over time. This translates into direct sales while also supporting long-term growth.
5. Compound Returns Over Time
The benefits of SEO compound over time as your rankings solidify and search traffic grows steadily. Unlike paid ads which pause when stopped, SEO keeps working 24/7 to deliver more sales opportunities.
Like any marketing investment, SEO takes time and consistent effort to see returns. But it pays long-term dividends in the form of higher organic traffic, lower customer costs, and visibility lift. Over time these compounding benefits add up, allowing SEO to significantly scale a business.
Many brands rely on SEO as one of the most cost-effective sources of revenue growth. Unlike paid media, results continue flowing in at little extra cost once rankings are in place. SEO provides compounding returns that paid ads cannot match over the years.
Some key statistics showing the compounding power of SEO:
- SEO still delivers 4X ROI over a 12 month period.
- Companies who maintain rankings long term see 50% higher traffic on average vs volatile rankings
- SEO accounts for 64% of total website sessions for brands with long term strategies
Clearly, taking a patient, long view with SEO pays dividends as results build upon themselves. The hours invested to rank today continue contributing traffic and conversions for months and years down the road.
6. Support Inbound Marketing Strategies
SEO is a key component of inbound marketing strategies. Inbound focuses on attracting customers through helpful, educational content rather than interruptive ads. You pull customers in by solving problems and answering questions.
By optimizing content for search, you can pull in visitors interested in those topics who want to learn more. They become leads for your business by exchanging contact information or sales calls-to-action in exchange for value received.
Good SEO supports this inbound process at the top of the funnel, delivering qualified visitors to consume content on your site. It feeds and enhances the inbound strategy driving your overall revenue generation.
Some ways SEO specifically supports inbound marketing results:
- Websites focused on inbound strategies and SEO double their leads generated
- Businesses using inbound marketing report lower customer acquisition costs
- SEO accounts for more than 65% of total visits from inbound marketing efforts
- More site traffic from SEO strengthens branding, social shares, and email capture
By connecting your content promotion to high-value SEO keywords, you attract more searchers to begin their buyer’s journeys with your brand. This aligns perfectly with inbound methodology.
SEO Best Practices to Make Money
Now that we’ve examined the major ways SEO can make money, let’s look at some core best practices to implement for profit-driven SEO success:
Research Profitable Keywords in Your Niche
The backbone of SEO is targeting valuable, high-traffic keywords that bring in motivated visitors. You need to find the search terms with enough volume that can convert into paying customers.
Leverage keyword research tools to discover keywords getting substantial search volume as well as having high-value commercial intent. Use Google’s Keyword Planner or paid tools like Ahrefs for the best data.
Ideally combine keyword volume with the estimated cost per click (CPC) to determine potential value per visitor. Sort for keywords with higher volume and cost per click. This indicates commercial search demand.
You want to identify keywords getting significant search volume each month, indicated by:
- Minimum of 1,000 monthly searches for primary keywords
- Mix of head terms (broader) and long-tail variations (more specific)
- Multiple keyword opportunities within target themes
Then assess commercial value based on Google Adwords cost per click data:
- Look for keywords with a CPC of at least $1-2
- The higher the CPC, the more buyers are bidding for that term
- Indicates high commercial value and conversion potential
Keyword research is a crucial starting point to identify the best SEO opportunities with target customers. Spend time digging into keyword data and mining for gold.
Optimize for Keyword Intent & Searcher Satisfaction
It’s not just about targeting any high-traffic keyword. You need to optimize your pages for searcher intent and satisfaction.
Analyze your target keywords to understand exactly what the searcher wants to find. What questions or needs are they trying to satisfy? Then craft content that specifically meets those needs while prominently featuring your main keywords.
The goal is to provide the best possible experience to searchers so they convert or continue engaging with your brand. Satisfying intent leads to higher rankings, traffic, and conversions.
Some best practices for optimizing pages around keyword and user intent:
- Include keywords naturally in headings and text to signal relevance
- Answer the underlying question or meet the intent as directly as possible
- Structure content to satisfy visitor needs and expectations
- Feature visuals, examples, and multimedia to connect with visitors
- Write helpful, informative content beyond just targeting keywords
- Make call-to-actions prominent to capture motivated visitors
Searcher satisfaction matters more than ever in SEO. Google is getting better at analyzing pages for relevance and usability signals. Create content your audience loves, not just search engines.
Create Link-Worthy, Value-Driven Content
The other essential component of SEO is acquiring backlinks from other authoritative sites. Google factors these backlinks as “votes” to the quality and popularity of your content.
Produce content designed to attract backlinks by providing enormous value to readers. Offer actionable advice, data-driven research, how-to guides, listicles, and other irresistible content users want to share and link back to.
Promote this content so it ranks for your target keywords and gets found and shared by influencers. Pitch guest posting opportunities to build quality links at scale.
Some best practices for creating high-value content that earns links:
- Identify knowledge gaps and questions in your niche to create content around
- Conduct original research and surveys to provide data people are seeking
- Create roundup posts linking to industry influencers and sites to build relationships
- Produce visual assets like infographics, interactive quizzes, and assessments
- Publish case studies showing quantified results and success stories
- Develop comprehensive guides and ebooks to establish your expertise
Great content should solve problems, educate, entertain, provide unique value. Do this consistently and the backlinks will come over time.
Track ROI Metrics on Keywords, Traffic, Leads
Running SEO without tracking key conversion metrics is shooting in the dark. You need to connect how higher rankings affect your actual revenue and sales.
Set up tracking to monitor rankings, organic traffic, leads, and sales from target keywords. Map customer journeys from initial click to purchase. This allows you to calculate SEO ROI and the actual dollar value per visitor.
Use analytics platforms like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and call tracking software. Here are some key metrics and KPIs to track:
- Rankings for target keywords – monitor positions and ranking gains
- Organic traffic volume – overall and for key landing pages
- Lead generation – phone calls, form fills, downloads, emails collected
- Conversions – signups, purchases, content downloads
- Bounce rates – indicator of page satisfaction
- SEO ROI – traffic value, conversions value, rank improvements
Continuously optimize pages and content based on ROI data. Double down on what’s working and cut what doesn’t provide value. Use data to guide optimization.
Be Patient and Consistent Over the Long Term
SEO takes time to build results. Don’t expect overnight success. It may take 6-12 months before you start seeing progress in rankings. But it pays off over the long run.
Adopt SEO as an always-on strategy. Consistently produce new content, build links, and optimize technical site factors. Make incremental gains month to month. Maintain rankings with ongoing optimization.
With regular investment and execution, SEO becomes a steady source of qualified visitors, lower costs, and brand visibility over time. It earns compounding returns that paid media cannot match.
Here are signs you are taking the long-term approach correctly:
- Monthly content production and publishing schedule
- Mix of short and long-form content assets
- Quarterly link building outreach and promotions
- Ongoing technical website enhancements
- Monitoring positions with a 6-12 month outlook
- Optimizing and reinvesting in top-performing areas
By remaining committed to SEO as a long-term strategy, you reap the benefits for months and years to come.
Implementing an effective SEO strategy requires upfront work, but it ultimately pays dividends by landing you more qualified visitors ready to convert into paying customers. It provides a positive ROI by increasing traffic, conversions, and brand awareness over time for your business.
SEO serves as the foundation to an inbound marketing strategy that attracts and captures motivated prospects. Combined with smart conversion optimization, SEO can become one of the most cost-effective sources of new business growth.
Executed correctly and consistently over the long term, SEO can absolutely make you money and scale your revenues. By showing up prominently when prospects search for topics related to your business, you put yourself directly in the path of potential buyers ready to spend money. That visibility converts into sales, profits, and lasting brand growth.