SEO is the digital heartbeat of businesses online. But when it comes to SEO growth, what do we even mean by “healthy rates”? Is there a magic number or percentage that businesses should aim for? Or does it vary by industry, company size or other factors?
In this post, we’ll dive into these questions and explore the different facets of SEO growth rates. By the end, you should have a bit more awareness as to how to measure your own SEO growth, as well as devise remedies for stagnation in your own SEO strategy.
Single Grain enables us to increase our impact without increasing our headcount
Understanding SEO Growth Rates
At its core, an SEO growth rate refers to how much a website’s organic traffic grows from one period to the next. This could be measured month over month, quarter over quarter, or year over year, depending on how you choose to compartmentalize your data.
It answers the question: Are you seeing an upward trajectory in organic visits? Or are there plateaus or declines?
A recent study by Kevin Indig delved into this topic by analyzing the annual growth of three distinct companies. Each one relies on SEO for at least 50% of their business. His research suggested that strong SEO growth falls between 1x-4x annually.
To illustrate the variability in SEO performance, let’s consider the distinct journeys of different companies:
- Tiny Bird: This SaaS startup showed remarkable growth, almost 100% YoY. Yet they hadn’t even begun to rank for their most vital keywords, which indicates that there still a lot of potential.
- Sleep Foundation: Their growth rate has been quite inconsistent, with figures like 446% in 2018, followed by a slowdown in subsequent years with only 27% in 2022. However, the size and starting point matter. A 400% increase for a site with 10,000 visitors is different from the same percentage growth for a site with a million visitors.
- DoorDash: A familiar name, their SEO journey paints an interesting picture. Starting with around 6 million visits in 2018, they experienced fluctuations, ending 2021 with roughly 10 million monthly visitors. And 2023? A sizable jump to about 64 million.
While these specific growth numbers are enlightening, context is crucial. For a well-established site, achieving 4X growth can be quite challenging. However, for newer sites with lower initial traffic, these numbers might be attainable, even expected.
Moreover, the industry or vertical plays a pivotal role. A health website has an ocean of potential traffic compared to, say, a niche site about sales software. While 100,000 visitors might sound impressive, multiplying that by four for an organic traffic site dealing with sales software could be a mammoth task.
Quality Over Quantity: Traffic vs. Revenue
Growing traffic is undeniably a win, a testament to successful marketing efforts. But the real question arises when one tries to correlate this surge in traffic directly with an increase in revenue. It’s a potential pitfall to assume that all traffic flooding into a site is of high quality or has strong buying intent.
Imagine a brick-and-mortar store for a minute. Picture droves of people walking in, browsing, but only a handful actually buy something. The foot traffic looks impressive, but if the cash register isn’t ringing, it’s not contributing to the business’s bottom line.
Similarly, in the digital realm, high numbers on the analytics dashboard may look promising, but if these visitors are not engaging meaningfully, converting to leads, or purchasing products or services, their value is largely superficial.
Furthermore, the source of the traffic plays a vital role. Are visitors coming from a well-researched, targeted campaign? Or are they random clicks from a broad, scattergun marketing approach?
The former is more likely to bring in engaged users who’ll take desired actions, while the latter might boost numbers but not necessarily profitability.
While growing traffic is an encouraging sign of a brand’s digital visibility and outreach, it’s imperative to delve deeper.
The Takeaway: Assess the quality of your traffic by reviewing your site traffic behavior and click paths to verify whether these visitors are making a positive and tangible impact on revenue or not. Because, at the end of the day, business success isn’t just about numbers — it’s about numbers that result in revenue.
An Important Content Marketing Tip
For those in the realm of content marketing, a key takeaway from Indig’s study was the depth and comprehensiveness of content and its impact on attracting higher quality traffic through SEO.
In the world of content, it’s often a game of “all or nothing.” Go big or go home. It’s not enough anymore to provide surface-level material that only nods toward a solution. It takes having authoritative content that people can’t find anywhere else:
Readers are looking for content that offers new perspectives, dives deep into subjects, and provides a holistic understanding of the topic. They seek value in every piece they invest time in.
It’s all part of what gives your brand specialty and prowess in your industry — a brand that people look to for answers.
Don’t just offer a teaser; provide the whole story. Commit to delivering content that not only captures interest but also offers genuine insights, answers questions, and provides actionable takeaways.
Last Thoughts on SEO Growth
SEO growth rates are both a science and an art, reliant on data but deeply affected by industry nuances and individual company specifics. While benchmarks like 1x-4x annual growth offer a guiding star, the journey to SEO success is a path each company must chart based on its unique circumstances. The crucial aspect? Stay informed, remain adaptive, and never underestimate the power of well-executed content marketing.🌟
If you’re ready to level up your organic growth, Single Grain’s SEO experts can help!👇
For more insights and lessons about marketing, check out our Marketing School podcast on YouTube.