We need to talk about SEO for a small business.
Why? Because in today’s world, search engine optimization is how small businesses get discovered online. While there are a hundred different ways to drive traffic to your website, strategically ranking high on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing is the best approach you can take.
If you’ve been neglecting SEO for some time, you’re asking yourself: What am I missing? Why does SEO strategy matter so much? And what will a big investment in growing my SEO do for my small business?
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how important SEO is. We’ll also give you tips for making a plan to get started right away.
What Is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your website so that its pages rank high on search engines.
Think about what it’s like from the opposite end. When you google something, what link do you usually click?
We’ll answer it for you: one study found that less than 6 percent of people find what they’re looking for on page two of Google. So the answer is, “I click somewhere in the top ten search results.”
All of us do it—and if your business’s pages are calibrated for search engines, your site will enjoy the same type of traffic for those searching for your products.
As a small business, SEO is both a great short and long-term strategy for growth. While it’s not a process that starts working overnight, it can start yielding results in just a few weeks or months. And once your web pages are up and running, you can enjoy spikes in traffic for years to come with only a little maintenance.
Why SEO for a Small Business Matters
As a small business, you may only have a limited number of resources and manpower to execute your vision for the company. That means any actions you take to grow your business matter.
SEO for small business matters because it helps you gain visibility in front of a new customer base. Here’s an example:
Say you run an auto body shop in Orlando, Florida. We’ll also say that somewhere between 100 and 300 people google “best auto body shop in Orlando” each month.
There’s a very good chance that the people Googling this term don’t know anything about your company. Until you end up on page one of their search results, that is—now, they know exactly who you are, and likely trust you because the search engine displayed your shop before everyone else’s.
SEO provides credibility for small businesses. It shows that you’ve been around for a while and that your website offers valuable content. New customers might not buy that day, but the odds of new people discovering you are simply higher when your SEO game is strong.
Think of it as your own virtual business card. Except this one is on display twenty-four hours a day.
Organic Search Traffic Is Bigger Than Ever Before
Organic search traffic is the number of people that visit your website from different search engines.
Did you know that organic search traffic is one of the most popular ways people find new businesses? In fact, organic search clicks outnumber paid search clicks 12 to 1.
While using pay-per-click advertising can be an effective strategy for some small businesses, you can hedge your bets and diversify your search traffic by optimizing your website. The best part is that unlike paid advertising, you can optimize once and not have to worry about it again for a while.
Conversion Rates Are Higher
Organic search traffic immediately makes you a more trustworthy, reliable source in the eyes of the consumer. One reason people are less likely to click on paid advertising is that—whether the consumer realizes it or not—someone is paying for them to see their product.
Conversely, in an organic search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, the person went looking and found you. There is no interference as to how they discovered your business.
And guess what? That leads to higher conversions. It doesn’t matter whether you sell directly from your site or your website leads to a sale on another platform.
There are other things you can do to increase your conversation rate; but SEO is an awesome strategy for any small business.
It Prepares You for the Future
Internet experts have been saying it for years, but it’s finally here and only growing: voice search.
Household items like Amazon’s Alexa (Amazon said 100 million Americans have one in their home) make it easier than ever for people to search using their voice.
This may surprise you, but getting your website optimized for search engines is preparing you for the future. Voice search will only grow as time goes on. With the right keywords ranking for your website, people can still discover you even when they don’t type them into a phone.
In fact, many actually believe some of Google’s most significant adjustments to how they evaluate for SEO had to do with them preparing for the future of voice technologies. Doing the work now will benefit you in the short-term and help you prepare for this new world we’re heading towards.
It Helps With Targeted Audiences
In many ways, small business owners are like small fish in a big pond. It’s your job as the owner of your company to come up with ways that prevent the biggest fish from dominating the ecosystem.
SEO helps level the playing field by making the “pond” (so to speak) smaller. Here’s how:
Every keyword on google has a certain amount of traffic that it gets each month. For example, a generic word like “fitness” gets millions and millions of hits in a monthly cycle.
A less common phrase like “how to can your own vegetables” gets significantly less traffic.
On the surface, it might seem like any small business would want to rank high for fitness. Of course they would—but so does everyone else. This makes the competition to get into one of those top spots very, very high.
Keep that in mind when implementing your SEO for a small business strategy. You might not be the biggest fish in the pond, but you can become the biggest fish in a bunch of little ponds if your SEO game is good.
It Boosts Your Social Media Presence
A successful SEO campaign will give your social media presence a boost, too.
When your web pages are well-optimized, your social media links will be sitting on display almost at all times. The likelihood that new users—who want to know more about you and what you do—will click on your social media is high.
Nowadays, that’s just what people do. We evaluate social media when we want to get a feel for if something is right for us, and this applies to business as well.
The organic traffic you bring in from search engines can help you create a more active audience on social media. It can also increase how many engaged followers you have, which opens up doors for you to do all sorts of promotional activities.
It Shortens the Sales Cycle
Good SEO cuts out the middleman. It helps people find what they’re looking for and gives small business owners a chance to show what they can do for people.
SEO is especially effective for B2B businesses. In the traditional B2B world, a lot of new business is brought about from things like cold calling and walk-ins.
In those cases, the chances that people are interested in buying are actually higher than them wanting to buy. That isn’t the case with SEO; people who find you are generally ready to buy or at least doing research ahead of making a purchase soon.
Starting an SEO Campaign?
Okay, so you can see the importance of SEO for a small business. From lead generation to establishing yourself as an authority online, there are many benefits to ranking high on search engines.
We don’t want to scare you, but the truth is that search engine optimization is a wormhole. It can be overwhelming to learn exactly what Google and other search engines need to see from your web pages before they start ranking you. You might get discouraged once you learn just how much needs to be done.
But if you’ve been neglectful, there are some “big movers” you can implement fairly quickly if you’ve been neglecting your SEO.
Here are some important tips you can start implementing right away.
Mobile internet searches account for about 60 percent of all online traffic. Some studies show that number is even higher, but the point is clear. Your website needs to look good and work on a smartphone so that a large number of people finding your site can use it.
Website design and mobile responsiveness are the two things that matter most. If you’ve neglected your SEO strategy for a while, your website could also be out of date.
Web Page Loading Speed
If there’s one thing that provides a good experience for your new potential customers, it’s page loading speed.
Think about it: any time you personally log onto a site that loads slowly, how long do you wait?
Answer: not long—because first impressions matter. You know this as a consumer and need to keep it in mind as a small business owner.
You can have a team of professionals speed up your loading page. Or if you don’t have the budget for that, start by removing all the slow-loading or out of date plugins your site runs. The less stuff that has to download from the server, the faster your site will likely load for users.
Hacky, jumbled websites are a thing of the past. If people can’t find the information they’re looking for, they’ll look elsewhere.
Make sure you’re not trying to do “too much” on your home page or even on individual blog posts. Avoid having too many sales pitches or calls to action on one screen, either.
Clear communication that empowers your readers to make their own choice is the way to go. It’s what you would want as a consumer, so you should give it to your customers as well.
Each page of your website needs to be about something. Preferably only one thing.
Google and other search engines really tightened the clamp in recent years on this. If you write a blog article that’s about (to use our early references) fitness, canning vegetables, and an auto body shop in Orlando, that’s not going to help your SEO.
When search engines crawl your site, they’re going to have no idea what that page is about—which means they won’t know who it’s for or who could potentially benefit from seeing it.
So, unless you have a massive audience already, start with some good keyword research. Identify the terms you want your site to rank for, then create valuable and easy-to-digest pages around those words.
Ready to Get Started?
In today’s world, SEO for a small business matters. It’s how new people find your website, how you grow on social media and how you build up credibility on the internet. All important things in today’s digital world.
Whether you’re preparing for the future or just want to get new leads in the door now, you should be taking steps to get your SEO game right. It’s okay if you were neglectful of it in the past. But if so, there’s really no better time to start than now.
Looking for help with your SEO strategy? Learn more about how we get people on the first page on Google.