Chat GPT Agrees: SEO is the Most Cost-Efficient Digital Marketing Channel

Joel Silverstein, MBA
May 1, 2023

Author’s Note: We’ve been talking a lot about how we can say, as Radiohead did, “OK Computer,” and learn how to work with AI bots as content producers instead of white-knuckling on our keyboards until the machines come for our jobs.

The following article was written and rewritten through a series of prompts on OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Given the instruction to site reputable sources, the AI created a cogent and sound argument to support the idea, which we whole-heartedly believe, that SEO is the most cost-efficient digital marketing channel for business. It helps large enterprises scale, and SMEs become visible.

As Lavar Burton said in “Reading Rainbow,” don’t take my word for it:

Title: SEO: The Most Cost-Efficient Marketing Channel for Businesses of All Sizes

Introduction: In today's digital landscape, businesses of all sizes are constantly seeking effective marketing channels to maximize their online presence and reach their target audience. With numerous options available, it's crucial to invest in strategies that provide the best return on investment (ROI). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has emerged as a cost-efficient marketing channel that offers significant benefits for businesses, regardless of their size. In this article, we will delve into why SEO is a valuable investment and explore how it scales for larger businesses. We will also discuss why SMEs and medium-sized businesses should prioritize SEO as their primary marketing strategy.

Now, I’m a huge advocate for the “show, don’t tell” idiom that high school English teachers like to repeat like a bird call, and that introduction does a lot of telling. But the “show” is just beginning:

I. SEO: An Overview

To establish a solid foundation, let's begin with a brief overview of SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the process of enhancing a website's visibility and organic rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs). By optimizing various aspects of a website, such as content, keywords, user experience, and backlinks, businesses can improve their chances of appearing in relevant search results.

II. Scalability of SEO for Larger Businesses

1.  Increased Organic Traffic: Larger businesses with established websites can benefit immensely from SEO. According to SEMRush, organic search accounts for approximately 53% of website traffic on average. By optimizing their website for relevant keywords and consistently producing high-quality content, these businesses can attract a significant amount of organic traffic, increasing their chances of attracting potential customers (SEMrush Blog). Moreover, businesses that appear on the first page of search results receive 92% of all clicks, highlighting the importance of higher rankings (SEMrush Blog).

2. Competitive Advantage: SEO allows larger businesses to compete with other industry leaders, even if they have a smaller marketing budget. Moz reports that 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results. By implementing effective SEO strategies, these businesses can rank higher than their competitors, ensuring better exposure and customer engagement (Moz Blog).

3. Brand Authority and Trust: As larger businesses invest in long-term SEO efforts, their online authority and brand trust grow. Ahrefs reveals that the number one organic search result on Google has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7% (Ahrefs Blog). Higher search engine rankings and positive user experiences contribute to establishing their credibility in the market, attracting a loyal customer base.

III. Why SMEs and Medium-Sized Businesses Should Prioritize SEO

1. Cost Efficiency: Compared to traditional marketing channels like TV or print advertising, SEO offers a higher ROI for SMEs and medium-sized businesses. BrightEdge reports that 53% of website traffic comes from organic search, while only 15% comes from paid search (BrightEdge Blog).Investing in SEO provides an opportunity for these businesses to compete with larger players within their niche without the need for exorbitant marketing budgets.

2. Targeted Traffic and Leads: SEO enables SMEs and medium-sized businesses to reach their specific target audience. Moz states that 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic search results, demonstrating the importance of appearing in organic search results (Moz Blog).By optimizing their website for relevant keywords and creating valuable content, these businesses can attract highly targeted traffic that is more likely to convert into leads and customers.

3. Long-Term Results: SEO is a long-term investment that can continue to yield results even after the initial optimization efforts. A well-executed SEO strategy can provide sustainable organic traffic and lead generation over an extended period. According to Moz, websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages, which leads to more opportunities for organic search visibility (Moz Blog).

Click-though-rate per Ranking, according to Google

 4. Local SEO Advantage: For businesses targeting a local customer base, SEO offers significant advantage. On average, position one on the SERP receives 28.5% of all clicks (see graph above), with click through fading down to position ten. Position 10, for example, receives only 2.5% of clicks (Search Engine Journal).[i]

In the end, the bot provided several viable data points on which an argument can be built that SEO is, indeed, the most efficient digital marketing channel. But, at least in the free version, Chat GPT lacks the color or nuance needed to engage readers beyond Google’s hungry crawlers. So, for now, humans are still in play.

[i]The human author added this last set of statistics to round out the “Local SEO Advantage” argument. Call it a human assist.

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