(originally posted on DesignBigger)
In successful SEO campaigns, long-term return on investment tends to be better than in a PPC campaign. It’s almost like renting versus buying; even though you might have spend more upfront, you’re building equity that can be “cashed in” later in the form of organic rankings, citations/backlinks, and search engine results page domination.
That being said, a well-run SEO campaign will likely become more costly in the new year; more work and time has to be devoted to keep an acceptable level of success. Let’s look at a few ways that costs might rise in 2013.
Content Generation For Link Building
With the massive amount of Panda-related algorithm changes in 2012, SEO efforts have shifted focus from primarily technical and link building to quality content generation. “Link building” activities now aren’t just about finding great directories; it’s about providing content to site owners/editors for publishing purposes to gain the all-important contextual link.
Site owners are becoming more picky as to what content they’ll accept for guest posting, editorials, and article submissions. Unless you’re an excellent author and providing your own content, you’re probably outsourcing writing tasks to a third party. If you’re having trouble getting content accepted and published, you may need to review the writer and quality of content being submitted. It’s not unusual to have to change writers after a time; at some point, you’ll outgrow your current team and need to move on to someone at the next level.
More Emphasis On Conversion Improvement
Because of blended SERPs, traffic resulting from straight organic results are declining. Google is funneling more and more traffic through avenues like AdWords, Local results, YouTube videos, and Product Listings. Therefore, the traffic that does come in through the organic keyword results becomes much more valuable. Conversion rate testing takes time and money to develop content, graphics, and code for each new iteration, and through aggressive testing, the rising cost of organic traffic will be offset by increased organic conversions.
Experienced SEO Talent Will Be Harder To Acquire
With nearly every company in the world looking towards inbound marketing, experienced SEO talent is becoming an in-demand workforce in almost every industry vertical. This creates problems on both the in-house and agency side, even at the beginner level of the game. Few colleges offer any sort of online marketing classes, and the ones that do are outdated before the syllabus is even printed. Subsequently, new graduates are not a reliable source of fresh talent.
To simply keep up with their industry competition, companies will be forced to poach experienced employees from other firms with offers of higher salaries and better benefits. Although this will raise budgets for inbound marketing in 2013, most companies will find favorable growth with a solid internet marketing plan for the new year.
Diversifying Content Generation Plans
While many agency or in-house search marketing teams might have an excellent writer on staff, with the blended search result pages, creating more than just written content should be in every SEO’s game plan in 2013. Whether it’s product videos, an industry roundtable discussion on a podcast, or snappy infographics showing the state of your business sector, it’s all an important part of a content marketing plan these days. If you’re a very small company, you might be able to bootstrap these projects and do “good enough” to get by, but for many companies, hiring outside talent to handle these type of tasks is usually preferred. If you’re in a highly competitive niche, production quality of content will be a weighty qualifier for customer. Looking second-rate to your customers will have a negative effect no matter how great of a product you have, so leaving this to the professionals is the only logical choice for most companies. Be prepared to invest significant cash, but reap bigger long-term rewards through repurposing content, organically viral campaigns, and customer engagement and loyalty.
Although costs for search engine marketing are poised to rise in 2013, this is a necessary expenditure to keep up with the constant pushback from algorithm updates, industry competitors starting new inbound campaigns, and finding/acquiring experienced talent. While no one wants to have to spend more money on marketing, the potential payoff of beating out your sleeping competitors can be huge.