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The Smart Investor’s Guide to Buying a Website

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The Smart Investor's Guide to Buying a Website

Buying a website can help you reach a new audience, get a foothold in a new market, expand your business online, or earn “passive” income.

It’s a similar, yet simpler, process compared to merging or acquiring an existing business. But, just like with a business acquisition, not all website purchases come equal.

In this post, we share tips on everything you need to know to buy your first website with confidence, including:

  • Where you can find available websites to buy
  • The process for buying a website
  • Essential due diligence tips to determine if a website is a good investment
  • Common concerns and how to overcome them

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to buying a website or determining what a good investment will be. Following these steps will help you identify if a site is right for you or not.

Knowing what your goals are with your website acquisition influences the entire process. Different types of websites are better suited to achieving different goals.

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If you’re seeking to reach a new audience, look for digital businesses with established audiences. For example, in 2021 Hubspot acquired media startup The Hustle and exposed its brand to new audiences in the startup and investing communities.

If you want to expand your reach online, consider competing websites or those in adjacent spaces. For example, in 2016, a blog about car advice sold for over $35 million to an Australian news publication seeking to expand its online reach in the automotive industry, even though it already had an automotive media publication under its wing.

If you’d like to earn more passive income, look for websites already earning a stable monthly income. Marketplaces and brokerages show earning reports of websites available for sale and in some cases, you can also continue to work with the existing team so there’s less work on your shoulders with managing the asset.

Example of a website’s earnings over time

Overall, the best investments are the ones you have the skills to grow and manage. For instance, don’t buy a media publication if you have little experience growing a blog. Likewise, if you’ve never worked in eCommerce, don’t go all in on an online store, dropshipping or any kind of website that deals with physical products.

The most common places to buy websites are website marketplaces and brokerages, though you can also do your own outreach and set up a private deal.

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Website marketplaces

Marketplaces, like Flippa, allow individual sellers to list their websites for sale and to manage the negotiations and asset handover on their own.

You can typically find very low-cost websites for sale on marketplaces, making them a great place to start for micro-acquisitions. You can buy anything from low-risk starter sites for three figures to seasoned websites earning thousands per month in passive income.

However, it is entirely on your shoulders to do thorough due diligence and make sure you’re not buying a lemon since most marketplaces do very little verification on each listing.

Pros Cons
Low-risk starter sites available No verification from the marketplace
Many options to choose from Little support available
Deal directly with the seller Not all sellers are trustworthy

Brokerages

Brokerages offer a more boutique experience when buying a website and are a great place for beginners with some extra cash saved up due to the extra support you can receive.

Instead of listing every website available to buy, brokerages typically have curated lists of websites their internal teams have verified. For example, Empire Flippers and FE International are two brokerages selling different kinds of online businesses.

Typically brokerages deal with larger transactions and you will be hard-pressed to find available websites for sale in the three or four-figure ranges so it’s only advisable to search here if these deals are well within your financial means.

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Pros Cons
Receive direct support from your broker Websites tend to be more costly
Tailored experience You may need to pay a brokerage fee
Choose from verified websites

Private deals

If you have some experience with negotiating business deals, you can put those skills to work and secure private website buying deals.

Arguably, the best sites to acquire are the ones people don’t want to sell. Plus, you don’t have to worry about outbidding others to acquire the site.

To find such websites, enter a well-known site in your niche into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and navigate to the Organic Competitors report. Here you’ll see up to 20 websites performing well in the niche:

Example of Ahrefs' Organic Competitors reportExample of Ahrefs' Organic Competitors report

Alternatively, if you don’t know any sites in your niche, try this method instead:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a handful of keywords that represent your niche
  3. Go to the Traffic share by domain report
How to use Ahrefs' Traffic Share by Domain report to find top websitesHow to use Ahrefs' Traffic Share by Domain report to find top websites

This will show you the websites getting the most estimated organic search traffic from those keywords.

Either way, you can then choose sites to investigate further based on metrics like how much traffic they’re getting or how much they’ve grown over a specific time period.

If you like any of them, reach out to them privately to negotiate a sale.

Pros Cons
No competition to outbid you Requires existing negotiating skills
Find higher quality websites Needs extra legwork to find great deals
Negotiate your terms more comfortably
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No matter how you’re looking for available websites to buy, you’ll need to audit each and every one to weed out the lemons from the goldmines.

Two essential checks to perform are for a website’s traffic and its backlink profile. Here’s the process in a nutshell:

  1. Enter the site in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
  2. Check out the Performance graph in the “Overview” report
  3. Filter for referring domains and organic traffic for a TL;DR view
Filtering Ahrefs' Site Explorer performance graph by referring domains and organic trafficFiltering Ahrefs' Site Explorer performance graph by referring domains and organic traffic

Look for any big drops in traffic or any unnatural-looking spikes in referring domains. Both of these can signal either declining performance overall or some shady things going on in the background.

For example, if you notice a lot of links added in a short period of time, the seller may have purchased links in bulk and there is a risk of the website receiving penalties from Google in future.

Example of an abnormal spike in referring domainsExample of an abnormal spike in referring domains

You can then take a closer look at a site’s link profile in the Backlinks report. Exclude “Best links” to hone in on potentially problematic links.

Filter for removing best links from Ahrefs' backlink reportsFilter for removing best links from Ahrefs' backlink reports

Paid links usually use the target keyword as the anchor text (the clickable part of the link) and come from poor content on low-quality sites, so look out for sites with lots of those.

For example, look at this link to a page about sleep apnea:

Example of a low quality linkExample of a low quality link

Based on this data, we can see that it:

  • Comes from a low authority site that nobody’s ever heard of
  • Comes from a page with zero estimated traffic
  • Has exact-match anchor text (“sleep apnea”)

If we look at the referring page itself, we can also see that the content is extremely low quality. The site is plastered in ads and although it’s not visible in the screenshot below (because of all the ads!), it has lots of suspicious outlinks too.

Example of Sleep Healthy Club's page design covered in ads.Example of Sleep Healthy Club's page design covered in ads.

Conclusion? This is almost certainly a paid link. If a large percentage of the links to the site you’re considering look like this, that’s a major red flag.

Another of my favorite checks to do at this stage is to look at the Site Structure report to get a feel for the information architecture of the website and the traffic distribution across the content.

Example of Ahrefs' Site Structure report showcasing website segments with the most organic trafficExample of Ahrefs' Site Structure report showcasing website segments with the most organic traffic

Poorly structured websites with decent performance are my favorite kind to work on. Generally, they’re run by people who aren’t the most SEO savvy, but they have built a genuine audience who like what they’re putting out there. Implementing some quick and easy SEO best practices can often see major gains on sites like this in a relatively small timeframe.

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To assess the state of the market, check out Keywords Explorer for the top categories or broad terms and assess the search potential over time. Here are some common patterns you may see:

  • Steady markets are great for consistent, recurring revenue and tend to form the bread and butter foundation of a website’s performance.
  • Seasonal markets are great for growing your audience and short injections of new revenue but offer inconsistent income.
  • New and growing markets typically have lower competition levels and offer a great opportunity to become the market leader.
  • Declining markets offer a great opportunity to revolutionize an outdated way of doing things and to absorb an existing, knowledgeable audience.
Common keyword patterns and how to evaluate themCommon keyword patterns and how to evaluate them

In short, there are opportunities in every kind of market, though the best ones for you depend on your goals.

In addition to understanding the market, you’ll need to also scope out existing competitors in the space and how the website you’re looking at is positioned against them.

The Organic Competitors report in Site Explorer will show you the top websites competing for similar keywords and how much bigger or smaller they are compared to the website available for sale.

Example of organic competitors positioning graph in AhrefsExample of organic competitors positioning graph in Ahrefs

Having bigger competitors is not a bad thing. In fact, it could be a sign that the market is lucrative and worth investing in.

However, if the website you’re looking at is currently not very competitive, it will also require more skills and technical knowledge to improve it.

Website due diligence is the process of dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s when evaluating whether a website is a worthwhile investment.

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No matter if you’re reaching out to a seller through a marketplace or brokerage or if you’re securing a private deal, this is an essential step of the process.

You can ask the seller to share access with analytics tools and some financial accounts and you can often schedule a video chat to ask more detailed questions about the website.

Here are some questions to consider.

Have you optimized the website for SEO?

If a seller has optimized the site for SEO, it helps to know exactly what they’ve done. You can also learn a great deal about what they tried that worked wonders and what didn’t work as well.

If the seller has not done any SEO, that may be ok depending on your goals. Many people don’t know where to start with optimizing a website and this presents a great opportunity for buyers with SEO know-how to take the website to the next level.

You can also verify the actual SEO performance of the website using Google Search Console if the seller has set it up. If they haven’t, Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is a great alternative for estimating overall organic performance.

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Where does the majority of the traffic come from?

Make sure you check out the different countries and channels the website receives traffic from. Both of these can be assessed in Google Analytics (or similar tools) so make sure to request access from the seller.

In particular, check out the “Acquisition” reports to assess what channels users are coming from and how well SEO, ads and social campaigns may be working.

You should see something like this:

GA4 acquisition reports showing top channel groupsGA4 acquisition reports showing top channel groups

You should also check out the User Attributes > Demographic Details report to see what countries people are visiting the website from. It will look a little like this:

GA4 Demographic Details report showing top countries people visit a website fromGA4 Demographic Details report showing top countries people visit a website from

Have you done any link building?

Some sellers are honest about purchasing links or using private blog networks (PBNs), which opens up the opportunity for you to ask more follow-up questions about what they did.

Other sellers are not so forthcoming which is why scopipng out the backlink profile in Ahrefs is critical. Poor quality paid links can have very nasty consequences for websites.

How was your content created and how often do you upload new content?

With the latest move towards helpful content and combatingcombatting the rise of AI content, it can be a big boon to know exactly how the seller went about content creation.

  • Did they create everything themselves?
  • Do they work with subject matter experts?
  • Did they use AI?

Content creation is the number one activity you can do from day one after you buy a website to help it reach new heights or to improve its performance if it’sits a bit of a fixer-upper.

If you’re comfortable creating all the content, great! If not, it really helps to know what relationships the seller had with writers, editors and subject matter experts that you can leverage.

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It also helps to know how frequently they were publishing content so you can maintain a similar cadence. You can increase the cadence, but be wary of going too fast too quicklyquick. Big jumps in content production can be a sign the seller started using AI content.

You can use Ahrefs to spot mass AI-generated content in the Top Pages report and verify the information the seller has shared with you about their process:

What do you see as the low-hanging fruit for a buyer?

Many sellers and website brokers will be happy to share the low-hanging fruit opportunities for continuing to grow the website. Asking questions along this line of thought will help you uncover opportunities you may not have become aware of during your research.

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About 90% of the time, the best opportunities will come from things like:

  • Targeting additional keywords
  • Updating content
  • Closing content gaps
  • Building more or better links
  • Exploring additional channels like paid or social platforms

How are traffic and profits diversified?

In our book, this is the most important question to consider if the reason you’re buying a website is to establish a passive income stream.

Ask the seller about the history of profit distribution across their top pages or products. You can also assess this yourself in the website’s analytics.

Look at the top three pages or products and see if any are pulling in more than 20% of the traffic or profits. It could be a sign that the website is not very well diversified.

Sometimes this is ok and could be used as an opportunity, but other times it may be a major risk that is a deal breaker for you.

If everything is looking and feeling good, it’s time to negotiate the sale and then migrate the assets into your possession.

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You’ll likely need to put forward an offer you think is fair for the asset. If a broker is involved in the sale, you can negotiate with them or directly with the seller until an agreement is reached.

Keep in mind that many website and business sales fall down at the negotiating phase.

Before you start negotiating, decide what the asset is worth to you and make an offer at around 70% of that amount. Then, negotiate with the seller to reach a deal, but don’t get too excited and exceed your personal maximum.

Once you’ve secured the deal, it’s just a matter of transferring ownership of all the assets attached to the website, including:

  • Domain name
  • Hosting
  • Website files
  • Email accounts
  • Google Business Profile (if any)
  • Social media accounts (if any)
  • Financial accounts (if possible)

In some cases, you may need to migrate the website to a new hosting account and if this isn’t managed properly, it could affect the website’s performance. Check out our full website migration process to ensure this step goes smoothly for you.

If you’re like most first-time website buyers, you’ve probably got a few questions brewing. Here are answers to the most common ones we see.

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Can a website lose performance after a sale?

Yes, website performance can be affected by a few things immediately after a sale:

  • A poor migration (especially if consolidating the new website into an existing one)
  • Inflated figures in the seller’s reports
  • Dishonest sellers removing any fake links they used to inflate the SEO performance

You can avoid this issue by paying close attention during the due diligence process and listening to your gut as you ask the seller various questions.

It may also be worth paying for a reputable SEO professional to oversee the migration of the website and its assets after the sale so you risk minimal losses in performance.

How do I know if a seller is legitimate?

If you’re buying a website through a marketplace like Flippa, you’ll need to pay more attention to traffic and profit validation to make sure you’re not buying a lemon the seller has painted as a chunk of gold.

Brokerages have a much more rigorous process for verifying both sellers and analytics.

Overall, you’ll have to rely on the information you’re able to gather from the seller along with your intuition on whether they are being transparent and can be trusted.

How do you know the website will be transferred after you pay for it?

You have the option of paying through escrow for almost all website transactions that occur through a marketplace or brokerage. Escrow is a payment method designed to minimize risk for both sellers and buyers in high-value transactions.

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Instead of paying the seller everything upfront, you’ll pay a deposit to the escrow provider. Consider it like a legal holding account. Your funds will be kept in this account until certain conditions are met, namely all website files are transferred to you successfully.

Once you’ve received the files, account access and the website is officially yours, the escrow service releases your payment to the seller. It’s the most secure way to buy a digital asset minimizing your risk substantially.

Key Takeaways

Overall, buying a website can be a very rewarding experience! Whether a specific website is a good investment for you depends on your goals, skills, and resources.

But if you dot your i’s and cross your t’s with due diligence, you can’t go wrong. If this is your first time buying a website and you have some decent resources to put towards this purchase, we recommend going through a brokerage like Empire Flippers if you’d like the security of carefully vetted websites.

If you already have some experience up your sleeve, perhaps exploring some private deals may lead to more rewarding investments to grow your portfolio.

Got any questions? Reach out on LinkedIn.

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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Google Unplugs “Notes on Search” Experiment

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Google unplugs Notes On Search Experiment

Google is shutting down it’s Google Notes Search Labs experiment that allowed users to see and leave notes on Google’s search results and many in the search community aren’t too surprised.

Google Search Notes

Availability of the feature was limited to Android and Apple devices and there was never a clearly defined practical purpose or usefulness of the Notes experiment. Search marketers reaction throughout has consistently been that would become a spam-magnet.

The Search Labs page for the experiment touts it as mode of self-expression, to help other users and as a way for users to collect their own notes within their Google profiles.

The official Notes page in Search Labs has a simple notice:

Notes on Search Ends May 2024

That’s it.

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Screenshot Of Notice

Reaction From Search Community

Kevin Indig tweeted his thoughts that anything Google makes with a user generated content aspect was doomed to attract spam.

He tweeted:

“I’m gonna assume Google retires notes because of spam.

It’s crazy how spammy the web has become. Google can’t launch anything UGC without being bombarded.”

Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks) tweeted that it was author Purna Virji (LinkedIn profile) who predicted that it would be shut down once Google received enough data.

She shared:

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“It was actually @purnavirji who predicted it when we were at @BarbadosSeo – while I was talking. Everyone agreed that it would be spammed, but she said it would just be a test to collect a certain type of information until they got what they needed, and then it would be retired.”

Purna herself responded with a tweet:

“My personal (non-employer) opinion is that everyone wants all the UGC to train the AI models. Eg Reddit deal also could potentially help with that.”

Google’s Notes for Search seemed destined to never take off, it was met with skepticism and a shrug when it came out and nobody’s really mourning that it’s on the way out, either.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Jamesbin



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15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

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15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

The need for quality SEO keeps increasing.

Brands that execute an organic strategy the right way are standing out early and often – and it’s more important now than ever, thanks to the emergence of AI and other technological innovations.

Blend those emerging technologies with the tumultuous few years that made up the COVID pandemic – where millions of consumers were pushed online to do their business, make purchases, and stay entertained – and you can begin to scratch the surface of SEO’s importance in marketing’s modern-day ecosystem.

SEO is the most viable, sustainable, and cost-effective way to both understand and reach your customers in key moments that matter.

Doing so not only helps build trust while educating the masses – it also establishes an organic footprint that transcends multiple marketing channels with measurable impact.

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But while it will certainly improve a website’s overall searchability and visibility, what other real value does SEO offer for brands willing to commit to legitimate recurring or project-based SEO engagements?

And why does SEO continue to grow into a necessity rather than a luxury?

Here are 15 reasons why businesses need SEO to take their brand to the next level – regardless of the industry or business size.

1. Organic Search Is Most Often The Primary Source Of Website Traffic

Organic search is a massive part of most businesses’ website performance and a critical component of the buyer funnel, ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement.

Google owns a significantly larger portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and many others.

Screenshot from gs.statcounter.com, February 2024

That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility – they do. It’s just that Google owns a considerable portion of the overall search market. Thus, its guidelines are important to follow.

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But the remaining part of the market owned by other engines is valuable to brands, too. This is especially true for brands in niche verticals where voice, visual, and vertical search engines play an essential role.

Google, being the most visited website in the world (and specifically in the United States), also happens to be one of the most popular email providers in the world.

YouTube is the second most-used search engine, with at least 2.5 billion people accessing it at least once a month, or 122 million people daily.

We know that a clear majority of the world with access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.

Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines will always work in a brand’s favor. Quality SEO and a high-quality website take brands there.

2. SEO Builds Trust & Credibility

The problem for many brands is that building trust and credibility overnight is impossible – just like in real life. Authority is earned and built over time.

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And, with the AI revolution we’ve experienced over the last year showing no signs of slowing down, building real credibility has become even harder to achieve – and even more critical.

Following Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines is vital to ensure successful results when creating content for your audience.

The goal of any experienced SEO professional is to establish a strong foundation of trust and credibility for a client. It helps to have a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that represents a quality brand with a loyal customer base – or at least the potential for one.

A brand of this nature would be easily discoverable in search with the right SEO strategy. The more channels you’re comfortable publishing on and partnering with, the more discoverable you will be.

This can also be attributed to being a respected brand offering quality goods or services to customers, being honest and forthcoming with the public, and earning the trust and credibility among peers, competitors, and other stakeholders.

This becomes a lot easier to succeed with when the brand already has trust signals tied to it and its digital properties.

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So many varying elements contribute to establishing that authority with search engines like Google. It starts with building that credibility with humans.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of aspects like:

But now, in the age of AI, establishing that authority continues to become even more complicated and difficult to do.

Yet still, doing so the right way will do more for a brand than most other digital campaigns or optimizations.

Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment that relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust a brand.

3. It’s An AI Battlefield Out There & It’s Getting Even Harder

Since what seemed like the overnight emergence of AI going mainstream and becoming available at every person’s fingertips, search engine results pages (SERPs) are now more competitive than ever.

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Organic real estate keeps shrinking.

Bots, scrapers, and other AI-led technologies are stealing content and regurgitating things they learn along the way, which are often inaccurate or confusing, all while clouding the competitive market with duplicated or plain awful content.

Real SEO – including thorough keyword research, industry analysis, and competitive benchmarking to create high-value content for your customers and loyalists – allows brands to stand apart from the lowly regurgitated spam that floods our SERPs daily.

The challenge of optimizing websites and content for search engines that are relying more on their own AI technologies to enhance the user experience within their platforms than they ever have before is just another layer of complication exemplified by the emergence of AI.

It’s no secret Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) hasn’t exactly been the magic touch to take search to the next level. And, in some instances – up to this point – SGE has even taken Google backward in terms of user experience and information retrieval on a boatload of varying topics and queries.

SEO will undoubtedly help brands navigate and distill – and stand out among – the search engine noise that is littered with D-list content and AI-generated mediocrity.

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4. Good SEO Also Means A Better User Experience

User experience has become every marketer’s number one priority.

Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. However, few realize that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.

Google has learned how to interpret a good or unfavorable user experience, and a positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.

Google’s Page Experience Update is something that marketers in all industries will need to adhere to and is part of their longstanding focus on the customer experience.

Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there will be a problem with that website holding up against the competition, which will inevitably surpass it by offering the same, or better, content with a better user experience.

We know how much Google values user experience. We see the search engine getting closer to delivering answers to search queries directly on the SERP every day, and it’s been doing it – and expanding its integration – for years.

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The intention is to quickly and easily offer users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks.

Quality SEO incorporates a positive user experience, leveraging it to work in a brand’s favor.

It also understands the importance of leveraging Google’s updated on-the-SERP-delivery tactics for high-value content that has garnered significant traffic and engagement for sites in the past, but is now losing significant portions of it to the SERPs themselves.

5. Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions

The mobile-first mindset of humans and search engines has shaped local search into a critical fundamental for most small- and medium-sized businesses.

Local SEO aims to optimize digital properties for a specific vicinity so people can find a business quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.

Local optimizations focus on specific neighborhoods, towns, cities, regions, and even states to establish a meaningful medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.

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SEO pros do this by optimizing the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, in addition to regional listings relevant to the location and business sector to which a brand belongs.

To promote engagement locally, SEO pros should optimize a brand’s Knowledge Graph panel, its Google Business Profile, and its social media profiles as a start.

There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google and other third-party sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List (among others), depending on the industry.

I recommend following the local SEO tips on SEJ here.

6. SEO Impacts The Buying Cycle

Research is becoming a critical element of SEO, and the importance of real-time research is growing.

Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, ground-breaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.

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It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.

Brands must be visible where people need them for a worthy connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers and the businesses providing those answers.

7. SEO Is Constantly Improving & Best Practices Are Always Being Updated

It’s great to have SEO tactics implemented on a brand’s website and across its digital properties.

Still, if it’s a short-term engagement (budget constraints, etc.) and the site isn’t re-evaluated consistently over time, it will reach a threshold where it can no longer improve because of other hindrances.

Or, it will require such lift that brands will end up spending far more than expected to reach a place they could have otherwise obtained naturally over time through marketing efforts that included SEO.

How the search world evolves (basically at the discretion of Google) requires constant monitoring for changes to stay ahead of the competition and, hopefully, on Page 1.

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Being proactive and monitoring for significant algorithm changes will always benefit the brands doing so.

We know Google makes thousands of algorithm changes a year. Fall too far behind, and it will be tough to come back. SEO pros help to ensure this is avoided.

8. Understanding SEO Helps You Understand The Environment Of The Web

With the always-changing environment that is the World Wide Web, it can be challenging to stay on top of the changes as they occur.

But staying on top of SEO includes being in the loop for the major changes taking place for search.

The AI renaissance has been a clear indication of that.

Knowing the environment of the web, including tactics being used by other local, comparable businesses and competitors, will always be beneficial for those brands.

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Observing and measuring what works and what doesn’t only strengthens your brand further as well.

Knowing the search ecosystem will be beneficial 10 out of 10 times.

9. SEO Is Relatively Cheap & Extremely Cost-Effective

Sure, it costs money. But all the best things do, right?

SEO is relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considerable in terms of a brand’s benefit to the bottom line.

This isn’t a marketing cost; this is an actual business investment.

Exemplary SEO implementation will hold its own for years to come. And, like most things in life, it will only be better with the more attention (and investment) it gets.

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Not only is it cost-effective, but it’s scaleable, measurable, and rarely loses value over time.

10. It’s A Long-Term Strategy

SEO can (and hopefully does) have a noticeable impact within the first year of taking action – and many of those actions will have a lasting effet.

As the market evolves, it’s best to follow the trends and changes closely.

But even a site that hasn’t had a boatload of intense SEO recommendations implemented will improve from basic SEO best practices being employed on an honest website with a decent user experience.

And the more SEO time, effort, and budget committed to it, the better and longer a website stands to be a worthy contender in its market.

The grass is green where you water it.

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11. It’s Quantifiable

While SEO doesn’t offer the same easy-to-calculate return on investment (ROI) as paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.

The big problem is connecting the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions.

Tracking and attribution technology will continue to improve, which will only help SEO pros and their efforts.

Still, it is worth understanding how specific actions are supposed to affect performance and growth – and hopefully, they do.

Any good SEO pro will aim at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge.

Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance – especially for SEO when they have a person/company being paid to execute on its behalf.

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There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either.

And we all know the data never lies.

12. SEO Is PR

SEO helps build long-term equity for your brand. A good ranking and a favorable placement help elevate your brand’s profile.

People search for news and related items, and having a good SEO and PR strategy means your brand will be seen and likely remembered for something positive.

Providing a good user experience on your website means your messages will be heard, and your products or services will sell.

SEO is no longer a siloed channel, so integrating with content and PR helps with brand reach and awareness alongside other worthwhile results.

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13. SEO Brings New Opportunities To Light

High-quality SEO will always find a means of discovering and leveraging new opportunities for brands not just to be discovered but to shine.

And that becomes a lot easier when experienced SEO pros can help distill the millions and millions of websites competing – and flooding – the SERPs daily.

This goes beyond keyword research and website audits.

SEO is also extremely helpful for understanding the voice of your consumers.

From understanding macro market shifts to understanding consumer intent in granular detail, SEO tells us what customers want and need through the data it generates.

SEO data and formats – spoken or word – give us clear signals of intent and user behavior.

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It does this in many ways:

Hiring an SEO professional is not always an easy task either. It requires money, time, vision, communication, more time, and some other things that will undoubtedly need to be fixed over the course of time.

Executive SEO on behalf of brands means immersing an SEO team in everything that makes that brand what it is. It’s the only way to truly market something with the passion and understanding that its stakeholders have for it: becoming a stakeholder.

The better a brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help it thrive. The same can be said about SEO.

New opportunities with SEO today can come in many ways – from content, digital, and social opportunities to helping with sales, product, and customer service strategies.

14. If You’re Not On Page One, You’re Not Winning The Click – Especially With Zero-Click Results

SEO is becoming a zero-sum game as zero-click SERPs show the answer directly at the top of a Google search result.

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This has only intensified with AI, SGE, Gemini, and more sure-to-come technologies that continue to shape our industry.

Early data showed about 56% of queries in a testing sample triggered SGE automatically directly on the SERP as part of an answer to a specific query in 2023, largely based on the semantics and intent of the query.

SGE results are also still incredibly volatile; sometimes they show up automatically, other times not at all, and other times there’s even an option to use SGE for results or not.

Regardless of that or any speculation on the future, there’s one thing for sure: Zero-click results in searches are winning.

If you’re not on Page 1, you need to be.

There are still too many instances when a user types a search query and can’t find exactly what it’s looking for. And sadly, SGE hasn’t been great at changing that until now.

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15. SEO Is Always Going To Be Here

Consumers will always want products and services online, and brands will always look for the most cost-effective way to connect them with each other.

While the role of SEO may shift and strategies will surely change, new avenues are constantly opening up through different entry points such as voice, apps, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT) AI is another prime example, and we can already see its impact greatly.

Outdated SEO tactics aren’t going to work much longer. New organic search opportunities will always arise. SEO helps find the best ways to capitalize on them.

Conclusion

The role of SEO has expanded significantly over the last few years, and it’s only becoming more challenging and expansive in the face of AI.

New technologies are constantly creating new processes and even shortcuts and workarounds that are changing the game, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

One thing is certain, though: Without giving SEO efforts some significant attention through a brand’s fiscal year, you are doing your business a disservice. Try it and see. Analyze the results. Test some more. Try new things.

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Stay up to date with changes and guidelines, and make sure you’re offering unique content that is valuable. And if it’s not originally yours, include proper citation and linking.

SEO will continue to help consumers when in need.

Implementing robust, quality SEO updates on a brand’s website and digital properties will benefit them and their marketing efforts in measurable ways, and the impact will be felt.

There will be challenges, but when done right, there can also be success.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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