My Thoughts On SEO & Economics (Improving The World)

Updated: Mar 2

Some of you might not know this but I studied economics at university. I was originally studying education, and I had to take a macroeconomics course as a prerequisite. And BAM it was love at first sight.

Fast forward 10 years and I am deep into the wonderful world of SEO. But what do the two have in common?

Much more than you might think, and by the end of this article I think you too will see that SEO (and the data we use) makes the world a better place, and if you don't believe me, check out this study on how search data from Google is being used for early detection of Covid-19 outbreaks.

So, Let's do a quick overview:

In economics one of the fundamental ideas is that decisions, prices, output consumption and everything else are measured at the margin:

One example is marginal utility which is the utility (or benefit) derived from a change in consumption.

This goes more in-depth with increasing marginal utility and decreasing marginal utility ( that the utility or benefit either increases or decreases with each change). Examples and details of this are beyond the scope of this article but it is a fascinating subject.

Now, some of you more data-driven SEOs might already see where I am going with this. But let’s continue.

Perfectly competitive markets and perfect competition.

The next fundamental idea worth mentioning which has influenced me is the idea of perfect competition or perfectly competitive markets.

This is an economic theory that relies on a number of assumptions, as does any other area of science.

Some of the assumptions are as follows:

  1. all companies sell identical products

  2. market share does not influence prices

  3. companies are able to enter or exit without a barrier

  4. companies cannot determine prices

  5. buyers have “perfect” or full information

Perfect competition is a way to organize the economy which ensures no transaction is conducted without benefiting both parties (Pareto efficiency) leading to a perfectly efficient market for goods.

This last one is the assumption I want to focus on: “buyers have “perfect” or full information”.

If this isn't a strong enough hint of where I'm going then I will explain in more detail.

Buyers have “perfect” or full information

To me, and many other SEOs (even if they don't know it) SEO is a vehicle in which we are providing (more) complete information to consumers and producers.

How is this so?

If you follow any great marketers on LinkedIn, Twitter or any other platform you will notice a few things

  1. They encourage companies to give away (for free) something of value in order to gain customers

  2. They do this themselves, on LinkedIn and Twitter the SEO community specifically but other industries as well, give away tips, tricks, secrets, and findings that they spent time and effort into discovering.

Why? The answer is simple, it is in their best interest, and in fact, it is in everyone's best interest.

This might seem obvious today but it was not always the case. Before the internet, information was expensive. Ask a commoner in any part of the world a few hundred years ago, if they owned any books, or better yet if they could even read.

Today at our fingertips we have access to virtually any information, in fact, the challenge is filtering through the information so that it is relevant for us.

In order for a consumer to be "rational" (which is another assumption across economics) they must have perfect information. An informed consumer is critical for markets to function properly.


This was and is my realization.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of educating consumers and providing them with more perfect information than they would otherwise have. From this, they can make better decisions and decrease inefficiencies in the market.

  • Answering questions

  • Providing insights

  • Case studies

  • Making the buyers' journey easier

  • Sharing tutorials, how-to guides, etc

The saying “SEO is free” is absolute nonsense, ask the person paying the bills for their writers, designers, strategist, developers and agencies how “free” it is.

But why on earth would a company be spending money on something to give it away for free, and how do we know it is worth it?

The answer is simple, they would not unless it concluded in a profit-generating transaction.

So who benefits?

Companies and clients BOTH benefit!

As a user of search engines, I read copious amounts of information, for free. I don't need to pay a deposit, to find out the “5 best ways to grow my business”. Someone put in the time and resources and gave them to me, for free.

Furthermore, with the rise of big data, Python, SQL, Tableau and many other systems, we can visualize and interpret data easier than ever before.

This means I have more information that is relevant and digestible to me. More information than at any other point in history. Free information.

I am not claiming that there is currently a perfectly competitive market, there is not, and might not ever be. But it is pretty darn close.

The key to success is measured at the margin

But EVERYTHING in SEO (and economics) is measured at the margin. The number of benefits derived from even the smallest changes.

You can’t rank well in Google simply by including keywords in a title (or) building backlinks (or) having a site that is easy to crawl (or) using alt text (or) h2, h3, and the list goes on and on.

But each one of these things do contribute to better rankings.

They might only contribute to a marginal change. But when combined they result in a better user experience and allow companies to get their information in front of their correct audience.

Search algorithms have grown and become more sophisticated and advanced. SEO is not what it used to be, but what does stay the same? We evolve and change.

As Franklin Deleneor Roosevelt once said;

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

And SEOs are moving forward in various ways to adjust to a changing market. And it is more relevant now than ever.

So I am driven to be the best SEO I can be because I know I am contributing to an economic and social situation in which every participating party benefits. This is the optimal situation for consumers, producers and the key to a better (more efficient) world.

What drives you?

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