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If you operate a small business and want to grow your revenue, you’ll eventually come across the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO). No doubt, SEO is likely the most widely used acronym in the digital marketing landscape. And there’s a reason for that – without optimizing your website’s content and making it easy for search engines to crawl, you’re going to lose out on valuable web traffic and potential customers.
Even if you’re new to the term, you’ve likely already explored some of the major aspects of SEO, such as determining the right terms and phrases (referred to as “keywords”) to help drive traffic to your website. Beyond exploring these keywords that your potential customers will be entering into the search engine for an Internet search, SEO also involves making your website friendly to search engines. Doing so increases the chances that your website will appear as one of the top results of the search.
Why is it important to land in these top results? According to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, 75% of people will never scroll past the first page on a Google search results page. This means that if your website or online content hasn’t been optimized for search engine ranking, you’re unlikely to get the increased revenue and exposure that being online can bring you.
Hopefully, you can see why SEO is absolutely necessary for your small business – whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store entirely online. However, unless you’ve had experience optimizing online content for SEO purposes and stay up-to-date on the changes that consistently happen in SEO best practices, hiring a digital marketing expert is the most efficient way to optimize your website quickly and correctly. Just as the skills and knowledge you bring to the table as a small business owner are part of how you build a reputation, SEO experts who have spent time and effort learning the ropes of how to optimize a website are still your best bet for attracting more traffic and revenue to your business.
If you’re still not convinced that hiring an SEO expert is one of the most important things you can do to grow your company’s online traffic and customer base, here are five reasons why every small business owner should consider SEO services.
SEO best practices change often
One of the most frustrating tasks when it comes to SEO and digital marketing is to figure out what Google is going to do next. According to the most recent statistics, Google is the search engine used in almost 71% of global Internet searches. While this doesn’t mean SEO only focuses on Google, it does mean that best practices in digital marketing and search engine optimization involve focusing on the search engine that visitors are most likely to use.
Added to that, Google uses 200 ranking factors in its search algorithm – a formula that tends to change every 9 days. Although not all of these changes will affect your website’s SEO ranking, some have been major and required significant changes in SEO best practices.
One example of a major algorithm change occurred in 2011 with the Panda update. Before this update, an SEO best practice was ensuring that content on the website was stuffed with the necessary keywords as much as possible. This resulted in a copy that seemed “spammy” to the reader, with language that was more repetitive than informative.
After the Panda update, Google’s algorithm preferred content that was high-quality and informative (which in general, meant longer word count) and it punished websites that used overly done keyword stuffing or other types of gimmicky content writing strategies. In other words, Google found a way to rank useful content over a spammy copy.
Another example is the update that occurred in two phases in 2015 to help Google determine if a website was mobile-friendly, since this was around the time when mobile device-based searches increased exponentially, it was important for webmasters to know if a particular website was user friendly, easy to navigate, and highly visible from a mobile device. Google even made it easy for website owners to determine if their website is indeed mobile-friendly.
It really is a full-time job to keep up with all of the changes that happen regularly with search engine algorithms, and how digital marketing strategies should adapt to those changes. As a small business owner, you have a business to run, and focusing your efforts on SEO without expert help could end up causing more harm for your business than good.
Focus on local SEO for increased traffic and conversions
It is especially important if you own a brick-and-mortar business to build your online content and business information with a focus on local SEO. In the older days of SEO, marketers would encourage the use of location-specific website addresses, such as “cardealshouston.com” or “bestmarketingLA.com”. The problem with this was not only the fact that it missed the opportunity for a branded website domain name – it looked spammy and unprofessional once enough websites started doing it.
As mentioned in #1, Google has now adapted its algorithms to better serve mobile device users, who make up a large percentage of its visitor traffic. There are ways to get Google to notice the physical location of your business and the services or product it offers, so that when visitors type in “car lots near me,” Google will pull up nearby car lot addresses and websites as the top search engine results. In other words, depending on the visitor’s physical location when performing the mobile search, if your website has been optimized for local SEO, you’re guaranteed a top spot in the search engine results.
You won’t need a large budget.
Gone are the days when a small business has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to run advertisements in local publications or to put up billboards. In today’s Internet-saturated world and mobile marketplace, when a consumer seeks out a product or service, they tend to look online for nearby vendors or customer reviews. So, it goes without saying that even brick-and-mortar small businesses need to build their online presence, brand, visibility, and reputation. If your business is transacted mostly online, the need for SEO is even more pronounced. In fact – it can make or break your business success.
The best news about this changing marketing landscape is that search engine optimization for small businesses costs far less than traditional marketing mediums. Added to this, if you find the right SEO specialist to work with you on your online content and marketing strategy, it’s marketing dollars that offer a lot of return on investment.
SEO done right gets complicated
As mentioned above, SEO best practices evolve along with Google’s (and other search engines’) search ranking algorithms. For this reason alone, SEO can get complicated. Added to that – Google’s factors for ranking change, making former methods of search engine optimization not only outdated but potentially harmful to your website’s visibility and placement on the search engine results page (SERP).
For example, most SEO practitioners and digital marketing specialists now understand the importance of things like having quality backlink profiles and optimized on-page elements. This includes looking at several different factors and access to software such as Ahrefs, which allows website owners or marketers a deep-dive analysis into a website’s organic traffic based on keywords and other metrics. This type of software can seem overwhelming to an inexperienced eye and tend to provide far more data and analytics processes than what most small business owners know how to make use of.
Good SEO increases your end-user experience
Ultimately, good SEO will make your website and services easier to find and more intuitive to navigate. This will improve your end user’s experience and increase the chances that they will purchase whatever products or services you offer. These factors also play a large role in ensuring that you have repeat visitors (and therefore, customers) who gravitate to your business.