Small Business SEO: The Basics
If you’re the owner of a website, you’ve likely been approached by companies offering search engine optimization (SEO) services. These offers are so common – and so untargeted – that even Google gets them!
The offers frequently come via email and include promises to get you ‘top rankings’ in the search engine results. This can be tempting to consider, but Google has some good advice when it comes to these unsolicited emails. In a post on choosing an SEO provider on Google Webmaster Central, they suggest, “Choose wisely. While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry.”
Being an informed consumer is always the best way to avoid being taken advantage of!
This introductory series for the Findability: SEO Insights column of Marketing Zeus will help small businesses understand the value of search engine optimization and provide some tips for how to identify a reputable SEO company to work with. If you’re more of the DIY type, I’ll also be providing plenty of actionable tips for things you can do yourself.
First, let’s establish why an SMB would even consider SEO in the first place.
1. Search is the most focused mechanism for helping people find you when they’re looking for you. Simply put, there is no better time to reach a potential customer than the moment she has gone to a search engine looking for what you offer.
2. Higher rankings result in significantly more traffic to your site. While that may seem like stating the obvious, most business owners don’t realize just how much of a difference it can make.
A recent study by Chitika, an online advertising network, found that the site ranking first in the natural search results got almost double the number of clicks as positions two through four combined. The site ranking #11 (at the top of the second page) could increase its traffic by 143% if it moved up to #10 (at the bottom of the first page).
3. Pay per click (PPC) programs have a place in the marketing budget for many small businesses, but even those who are using PPC successfully should consider SEO too. Why? Consider data shared by Hubspot, which suggests that just 25% of searchers click on the sponsored results. Focusing only on PPC means that you’re likely missing a large portion of the market.
Additionally, PPC costs, by definition, will never go away. A small business with the desire to do so can optimize their own site for an investment that consists primarily of time.
4. Ranking higher is also good branding. Searchers assume that the highest-ranked sites are the best at what they do. Though you may be the best carpet cleaner in your city, if your site doesn’t come up near the top of the search results, potential customers may not believe that to be true.
5. While SEO does require effort, it is quite possible for small businesses to do it on their own or to hire a reputable SEO provider who can produce positive return on investment.
In the next post in the series, I’ll discuss how search engines work, in preparation for understanding what we can do to improve our rankings.
In the meantime, check out these useful links:
SEO Glossary – Search engine optimization has a lot of terminology, which can make it intimidating. The SEOBook.com glossary is an excellent resource for finding out just what all those acronyms really mean.
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – SEOMoz published this in-depth tutorial for those new to SEO.
Next up in Findability: SEO Insight, find out exactly how search engines work.
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