Digital Marketing in 2017 – Is SEO Still Worth It?

Categories Business

Digital Marketing 2017

Search Engine Optimisation is something that really began to blow up in the mid to late 00s. It quickly became a huge part of many business’ marketing strategy, as more and more saw the value in ranking at the top of the search for their targeted key terms.

For anyone who may not be aware of the term SEO, it is simply the practice of making your website appear as attractive as possible to the search engine (usually Google). The search engine subsequently rewards well-optimised sites with the top rankings.

The benefits of being number one for the term that your target demographic is searching for is undeniable.

Put it this way, if I was to offer you a healthy stream of targeted traffic for free, would you take it? Heck, you’d bite my hand off!

On the face of things, you’d be foolish not to include SEO as a main pillar of any marketing strategy. But in 2017, it’s clear that this isn’t the case for many businesses.

The Social Media Age

Social media is massive. Let’s be honest, we’re all spending way too much of our time on it – and advertisers are aware of this.

Marketing has always been about reacting to trends in consumer attention. Where is the consumer’s attention? Your ads need to be there.

Historically, this may have meant newspaper or magazine ads, billboards or mail. Then, with the introduction of the internet, this quickly became website banner ads, email marketing and subsequently PPC and SEO.

With the average user now spending almost an hour a day on Facebook and Instagram, the more eagled-eyed marketers sense huge opportunities with these platforms.

Step forward paid ads and influencer marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are several other marketing opportunities using social media platforms, but in 2017 I believe these are the two biggest.

Often when a marketing platform is new and relatively under-used, it’s priced very affordable. Then, as competition amongst advertisers increases, the platform can demand higher prices.

We’ve seen it happen in PPC. GaryVee often boasts that he owned the number one paid spot for the term “wine” in the early days of Adwords for $0.05 a click. The same term would cost 20+ times that amount today.

What Gary did well (and continues to do well) was identify marketing platforms before everyone else did.

The two opportunities that remain largely under-priced in 2017 is social media paid ads (mainly Facebook) and Instagram influencer marketing.

Facebook Paid Ads

As a concept, Facebook ads are pretty straightforward.

The advertiser identifies their demographic and creates ads. Facebook then places ads on the timeline’s of those people that fit that demographic.

As well as being remarkably cheap in terms of CPC, Facebook’s targeting options make it a hugely attractive proposition to advertiser.

The targeting options on Google’s own paid ads platform (AdWords) are rigid. You choose the keywords you’d like advertise on, and they appear. The position you appear at will be dependent on the max CPC you set. There’s also little room for creativity with your text ads.

The nature of Facebook means that you can granularly target your ideal customer. You can target users by age, gender, location, residential status, interests, behaviours and much more.

What’s more, you can create ads featuring images, videos and slideshows. You can also include call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

What this means is that you can present an engaging ad on the timelines of users that are most likely to click it and convert.

Pair this with the fact that the clicks you’re paying for are relatively cheap and it’s easy to see why this is the preferred platforms for many businesses today.

Instagram influencer marketing

This is an opportunity that has blown up over the last few years.

The simply premise behind it is; anyone who has a decent number of engaged followers on Instagram can be considered an influencer.

As an advertiser, you can use these influencers to showcase your products or services in front of their audience.

There are several ways you can do this:

  1. Pay the influence an agreed fee per post featuring your product.
  2. Send your product to the influencer for free and ask them to feature it on a post.
  3. Create an affiliate relationship with the influencer and pay them a commission for every product you sell through their referrals.

This strategy of marketing has become extremely popular amongst clothing brands specifically. These brands will often use reality TV stars, sportspersons and actors to pose with their clothing on.

The thing is, with this being such a new platform very few influencers really know how to price themselves. As a result, some will wildly over-charge. More often though, influencers are undercharging – mainly because if they price low, they sell more.

It’s not as simple as the more followers you have, the more you can charge.

See, one person may have 1million followers, but if these followers are not engaged with that influencer, they’re almost worthless to any good advertiser.

Whereas someone who has 10,000 hugely engaged followers who like and comment on everything they publish, could provide massive ROI to advertisers.

For some niches, this platform simply won’t work. A finance company offering high interest loans for example, isn’t going to get Chris off Love Island to promote their brand!

However, if you sell a physical product (especially one that’s fashionable), Instagram influencer marketing is a huge opportunity.

The investment of time

One of the great things about paid marketing platforms like Facebook ads and Instagram influencers is that you see tangible results almost immediately.

These results could be in the form of visits to your website, products purchased, impressions or reach.

Essentially, it’s very easy to see your ROI.

SEO (when done the ‘right’ way) takes a significant investment of time.

You first have to ensure that your site is search engine friendly on an architectural level – on all devices.

You then need to ensure that the content on your site is well optimised, and speaks to the user that you’re looking to target.

On top of your base content, you’ll need to create compelling, engaging content that encourages readers to share and link back to it.

It’s also likely that you’ll have to do an element of manual link building – especially in the early stages when no one is visiting your site.

This will involve building relationships with websites in your niche, seeking and responding to relevant journalist enquiries and guest posting – yep, more content!

‘Time is money’ is a saying that gets thrown around freely these days, and there’s some undeniable truth behind it.

All the time you’re spending on SEO, you could be spending doing things that that produce tangible results, like paid marketing strategies.

So, what you’re left with is a trade-off between investing time into SEO vs. investing money into paid channels.

For a lot of businesses nowadays, time is extremely sensitive so this decision becomes an obvious one.

Searching vs. discovering

Its important to consider the users intent when they’re online.

Someone who is searching for a product will have completely different intentions to someone who discovers a product.

This is where the power of SEO becomes more evident.

Placing an ad on someone’s Facebook timeline or Instagram feed is opportunistic. Whilst you can granularly target your ideal consumer, you’re still hedging your bets that that person browsing their feed impulsively purchases your product.

When someone searches for a product or service on Google, they’re in a much more transactional mindset.

Put it this way, who’s more likely to buy a pair of shoes, the person who is shoe shopping or the person who walking to the bus?


Investing time into SEO is still a good idea in 2017 and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

If you have budget to spend and your product or service fits the mould, then using Facebook Ads or Instagram influencers as a brand exercise is certainly worthwhile.

In fact, dip your toe in as many strategies as your budget allows to discover which ones work best for you.

Avoid being romantic about any single platform – the digital landscape is always moving forward. So make sure you don’t want to get left behind!

Image Source: Anthony Ryan

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