touchscreen interfaceWhile a lot of salespeople will tell you otherwise, search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t for everyone. It can be expensive and often takes months or years to develop a sizeable return on investment. For a lot of small- to mid-sized business owners, the expense of SEO, which often starts at around $1,000 a month, is a difficult burden to take on. While every site should do SEO, not every site should pay for it. If you answer ‘yes’ to the following 5 questions, you’re probably ready to hire an SEO company.

1. You Have a High Conversion Value

SEO is expensive, and if you’re selling fifty-cent widgets and expecting to increase monthly traffic by 10,000 visits with SEO, with a 2% conversion rate (200 total conversions), that’s only $100 in additional income per month. If you’re paying $1,000 for SEO, it just doesn’t make sense. In order to determine if the ROI will be worthwhile, have an SEO company run a potential traffic report for some of your key phrases, and see A) if the traffic is even out there and B) if that additional traffic will bring in enough conversions to warrant the additional spend on SEO. 2% is fairly common for conversions, although your rate also depends on the service or product you provide, as well as total cost. Conversion Goals can be set up in Google Analytics and will help you get a better idea of the actual conversion percent for your site. If, however, a conversion is worth $3000 for you, just one conversion is worthwhile, and you’re ready for an SEO campaign. Keep in mind the following estimated click-through-rates for organic keyword search listings:

Position 1: 31%

Position 2: 14%

Position 3: 10%

Position 4: 7%

Position 5: 5.5%

Position 6+: 4% and less

So, whatever traffic numbers the SEO company provides, traffic should be calculated based on percent of traffic for certain positions. If, for instance, there are 1000 monthly searches for a phrase, a first position will warrant approximately 310 visits at 31%, position two will warrant 140 visits at 14%, and so on. These percentages vary by study. These particular results were found here.

2. Your Site has been Conversion Optimized

Most SEOs won’t even touch a site if it isn’t conversion optimized, meaning the design and layout are set up in a manner that will provide the highest conversion rate possible. After all, what’s the point of bringing new visitors to the site if they aren’t going to convert? Optimizing for conversions includes using pleasing color palettes and clear calls to action throughout the site. Site speed is also a factor in conversions, as the exit percent of visitors increases significantly after just 2 seconds of load time, and approximately 40% of visitors will leave if it takes 3 or more seconds for a page to load. Ensuring that your site loads fast enough is a way to hang onto this lost traffic. You can test your site’s speed with Google’s Pagespeed Insights. There are companies that specialize in conversion optimization, although many SEOs are now experts at this as well.

3. Your Site is Ready for Mobile Traffic

Mobile devices are so pervasive these days that any site that doesn’t resize for mobile devices, or deliver an entirely different site altogether, is going to fall behind. Recently, Google announced that they would begin labeling website listings as “Mobile Friendly” for mobile keyword searches. Many reports now show that more than half of all online traffic comes from mobile devices. Don’t fall behind the curve; make sure your site is mobile friendly. Not sure if it is, that can be tested with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

4. Your Site Has an On-Site Blog 

Content is an absolute must in the world of search engine optimization, and bringing an SEO company onto your project without having a blog on which they can post is like asking a roofer to get to your roof without a ladder! Any ongoing SEO campaign will almost always require blog posting, and establishing a blog on your site is almost always a necessity.

5. You Can Handle a Significant Increase in Sales or Clients

SEO is powerful stuff, and people sometimes underestimate just how powerful it can be. Simply changing Titles for a site’s pages can increase traffic significantly, especially on an established site, and if you can’t handle the additional flow of sales or clients, SEO may not be for you. If you’re smaller, a less aggressive SEO campaign starting at 10-20 hours a month may be all you need. If the campaign takes off right away, be ready for an up to 100% or more increase in site traffic.

Did you answer ‘yes’ to all or most of these? If so, you’re ready for search engine optimization.

Geoff Hoesch is the owner of Dragonfly SEO and an advocate for ethical practices in search engine optimization. He and his company work to promote websites in a positive manner online, without cutting corners or adding to internet spam.