Is SEO Worth It? The answer is in this flowchart

According to HubSpot, 69% of marketers actively invest in SEO. But is SEO worth time and money in your case? If you are looking for a quick and straightforward answer to this question, use this flowchart:

Flowchart to help determine if SEO is worth it

Here’s how it works: If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then SEO is probably worth it for you. This is because SEO increases your chances of ranking high for relevant search queries and getting consistent, qualified traffic for which you don’t have to pay.

But if the answer to everything of them is “no”, so you may be better off with a different type of marketing.

Not sure how to answer these questions? Read on to learn more.

Question 1. Are potential customers looking for what you sell or do?

If you run a local business, the answer to this question is almost certainly “yes”, at least statistically:

  • 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information (Google).
  • 76% of people looking for something nearby on their smartphone visit a business within a day (Google).
  • 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase (Google).

In short, if you don’t show up for relevant local queries, you leave money on the table. Local SEO helps with this and we have a complete guide on this.

But if you have an ecommerce, SaaS, or small online business, this may not be the case, especially if you’re doing something completely new or really niche.

To seek "intelligent bathing system" Ahrefs free keyword generator does not show results

Companies that make smart bathroom systems (or smart bathrooms) like Kohler probably need to invest in other types of marketing before people really get to their technology. Right now, everyone is taking a normal bath. Data via Ahrefs’ free keyword generator.

So the first step is to plug what you do or sell into a keyword research tool and see if there is search volume.

For example, if we link “Commissioner’s Kitchen” to Ahrefs’ free keyword generator, we see that it has an estimated monthly search volume of 5,900 in the US alone. This answers our question: People I am looking for what we do.

Keyword ideas found by Ahrefs' free keyword generator for "Commissioner's kitchen"

But even if that’s not the case, people may be looking for the individual products or services you offer. So it’s worth linking some to a keyword tool as well to see if people are looking for them. If not, don’t worry. SEO might still be worth it and that brings us to question # 1. 2.

Question 2. Are potential customers looking for solutions to problems your company helps solve?

Even if people aren’t directly looking for what you do or sell, they may be looking for problems or solutions that you can help with. And there is a high probability for this given that:

  • 68% of online experiences start with a search engine (BrightEdge).
  • 71% of B2B researchers start their search with a generic search instead of queries containing a brand or product (Google).
  • 53% of shoppers say they always do research before making a purchase to make sure they make the best possible choice (Google).

For example, we have a tool called Content Explorer which is basically a searchable database of billions of web pages. Virtually no one is looking for it on Google. However, they are looking for problems that the tool helps solve, such as searching for links or searching for ideas for content.

Content Explorer search results for "fitness"

Topics with high traffic and low competition. The results are in English and show which sites a new site can compete with. To go.

SEO is often useful in this case because you can create content that teaches users how to solve their problems with the help of your product or service. This is exactly what we do at Ahrefs.

Excerpt from an Ahrefs blog post about Content Explorer

One of our blog posts explaining a solution using Content Explorer. This article gets an estimated monthly organic traffic of 1.3,000.

To see if people are looking for problems that you can help solve, simply use a keyword research tool like we did in question # 1. This time, enter the name of the problem your product or service can solve. Also, see the Requests tab to search for relevant questions.

Keyword ideas found by Ahrefs' free keyword generator for "Relax"

Let’s say someone came up with a brilliant relaxation program / product and gave it a whole new name. That name surely won’t have any search volume. But as you can see, the problem with not experiencing effective relaxation is. So that that person can create content by answering relaxation questions and generate awareness about their relaxation program.


If you need more information for your research, you can take it to the next level with the features offered by premium SEO tools. Not only can you search for more keywords in one run, but you also get more metrics, you have access to advanced filters, and you can even see your competitors’ keywords.

Results of the report on the corresponding terms for "calm down, relax, relax, relax, relax"

A small example from our Keywords Explorer. Here you can see similar searches for relaxation-related questions, but we also used more seed keywords and advanced filters to show low-competitive keywords with sizeable traffic. Additionally, you can see the traffic potential (TP) of these keywords – higher search volume doesn’t always translate into more traffic.

How much does SEO cost?

So, if you answer “yes” to question no. 1 and / or to question no. 2, in theory worth SEO. But there is one more thing: the cost / effort can outweigh the reward.

Basically, you have three options for investing in SEO:

  1. Hire an agency – Probably the most expensive option, costing an average of $ 134.66 / hour (+ stationary). But you don’t have to learn SEO, and you can get started fast.
  2. Build a team or outsource to freelancers / consultants – A little expensive. On average, SEO consultants cost $ 122.33 / hour (+ stationary), freelancers cost $ 68 / hour (+ stationary), and an in-house SEO specialist costs $ 71,000 / year (in the US). You need to know what you are doing and you need to invest time in the hiring and onboarding process.
  3. do-it-yourself – The cheapest option. But it takes time and skill.

There may be a fourth “hybrid” option: hire an agency / freelancer for some time to see results. So you may want to build an in-house SEO team or even learn how to do SEO yourself.

Side note.

We interviewed members of the SEO industry to find out how much they charge for SEO services and what pricing models they use. Read the study here.

The bar chart showing most SEOs charges $ 76– $ 100 and $ 101– $ 150 per hour

If you decide to hire an SEO agency or consultant, ask them if they think SEO will be worth it for you. A good agency will give you an honest answer and will be able to explain why one way or another this is the case.

Whether you’re going to do it yourself or hire people to do it, you need to learn how SEO works and do keyword research to make sure you’re pursuing the right keywords.

In general, the more people look for something, the more competitive and difficult it is to rank for that thing. That’s why if you’re new to the SEO game, then it’s probably worth researching low-competition keywords to get started, as long as they’re still relevant to your business.

List of keyword ideas with matching data like KD, Volume, etc.

Here are some tips: Everyone knows that dogs need food; some people wonder if they can share a banana with a dog; and human grade food and air dried dog food are relatively new concepts that not many people are aware of. No surprises there. The second keyword has medium ranking difficulty (KD), while the last two are relatively easy to rank.

If you want to learn more about SEO to make informed and safe decisions, go to our free educational materials:

Final thoughts

So, if you’re looking to boost your business with SEO, the absolute number 1 consideration is determining whether queries related to your business are receiving search requests. After all, SEO is all about channeling a portion of the search question to your website.

Finally, I believe that the answer we have tried to provide in this article is the simplest, i.e. the quickest answer you can get to this question. But of course, that’s all it is. It is not an in-depth analysis of your business and its market environment. Think of this as the first step on your SEO journey: an invitation to create or ask a professional to come up with an SEO strategy just for you.

Do you have any questions or comments? ping me on Twitter.

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