Regardless of the specific business industry that you are in, you have prospective customers constantly searching for your services or products on their mobile devices. And search engine optimization (SEO) has the ability to help draw those customers closer to making purchases from your company as opposed to your competition. Even knowing that, some businesses fail to be convinced that they need to prioritize SEO. If you're one of them, read on to learn about SEO, why it can generate leads and how you can make it pay off for your company.
1. What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO, for short) is a primary tactic in digital marketing and is used by businesses in order to attract consumers online.
Now, SEO is different than purchasing an advertisement on television. Rather than it being a sole advertisement (that is quite costly by the way) that could drive results in a burst of short sales, SEO is actually a collection of various digital marketing techniques that can improve your brand's online presence. Then, when the right people learn of your company, you will see a growth in long-term sales.
2. Small Business SEO Strategies
Your ultimate goal is to utilize multiple SEO techniques to improve your brand's chances of ranking high in the search results of Google, Bing, etc. for specific search terms. Visibility in search engines is important since the majority of customers will research purchases they intend to make online prior to making a final decision.
Essentially, SEO is all about giving people what they ultimately want, and showing search engines those particular signals so your website can rank higher.
Your digital marketing strategy needs to be comprised of a collection of SEO tactics that are aimed at boosting your spot in the organic search results rather than the paid-for search results. Some of these tactics can include the following:
- Website architecture
- Website user experience
- Content marketing
- Keyword research
- Link building
- Social media promotion
Keep in mind that any marketing-related activity that you perform should have a certain level of SEO to it.
3. What SEO Isn't
SEO can be considered a business's online visibility. The more visible you are online, the more money you have the chance to make.
However, it is very important that you understand going into this a few things that SEO is NOT.
SEO isn't easy. It also isn't cheap. SEO isn't fast. It also isn't magic.
You are going to be expected to invest time or money or quite possibly both in order to achieve results from search engine optimization. You must be familiar with your business - you need to know it like it is the back of your hand. The same can be said of your customers, and you need to know how you can connect with your customers in the online world.
SEO also is not a one-and-done thing. For SEO to be truly effective, it is something that is ongoing and something that you need to always adapt to because it is constantly changing.
SEO is essentially a work-in-progress, if you're doing it right. Since technology, your business and customer preferences are always evolving, you will always be improving upon your SEO marketing strategy.
4. Understanding the Importance of SEO to Your Small Business Website.
Marketing is a huge part of life for small businesses, and SEO is a crucial aspect of that. If prospective customers are unable to locate your website, then they won't be able to become current customers of yours.
For all small businesses, SEO is how they appear online when prospective customers search for services or products in Google or Bing that businesses provide. This is why SEO is so critical for the success of small businesses.
5. SEO Specifically for Small Business Owners.
SEO can be a little bit confusing, especially when you're not a technical marketing guru. So, to help make it easier to understand, let's compare it to a marketing technique that is tried-and-true: the listings in the yellow pages.
Today's modern phonebook is the first page of the top search engines (Google and Bing), and SEO will get you there. In traditional phonebooks, you are listed in alphabetical order. However, in the modern phonebook (search engines), you are listed by your website's ranking, which is based on your website's web presence. Your site's web presence is ultimate determined by how well it performs based on the standards set forth by the search engines.
Therefore, SEO is something that must be integrated into all aspects of your marketing, content creation, customer-targeting activities, and publishing. In doing so, you will be ensuring that your website is as eye-catching as possible to Google, Bing, and other search engines.
6. What Kinds of Businesses Should Make Use of SEO?
Ultimately, as long as your business sells some type of service or product, it can benefit from using SEO. While not everyone is using the World Wide Web to search for services and products online, there will come a time in the foreseeable future where just about everyone is using the internet to do so. However, if they're unable to locate your website, then you are going to be the one that is missing out.
If you do not have a solid SEO strategy in place, then online users are going to bypass you and move on to your competitors. However, because SEO is an affordable marketing technique, there is no reason for this to happen to you. You can use it to your advantage, even as a small business.
Some of the best small businesses that can get the most use out of SEO include:
- Online services and goods businesses
- Restaurants, bars and cafes
- Medical practices
- Professional services, such as accountants, attorneys and real estate agencies
- Home renovation companies, builders and roofers
- Pet care and personal services
7. Do Small Businesses Really Need SEO?
Customers use a wide assortment of marketing channels to locate the services and products that they want and need. However, their journeys tend to begin with an online search. Therefore, in order for businesses to be successful, they need to capture these users at the beginning of their journey.
To comprehend just how SEO can assist your company in reaching customers through their computers or smartphones, think about your own personal behavior. When you go to a new restaurant, store or doctor, you probably start on a search engine like Google, correct? This is why is it critical to be able to be found on search engines regardless of how small or large your business is.
However, SEO is particularly crucial for small businesses. This is because these businesses do not have millions of dollars to spend on print, radio and television advertising. Luckily, SEO is an economical way to drive both web and foot traffic.
While all companies should prioritize SEO, it should definitely be a focus for smaller companies that have a limited budget for advertising and are in a competitive niche. Small businesses that lack a strong brand name must be able to perform better on broad or generic keywords to be found by customers.
8. When Exactly Is SEO Needed?
SEO is needed when your business wants/needs to attract customers to its website or when your business wants to sell services or products online.
Another important question that is often asked is how soon after the business is started should you start focusing on search engine optimization. Honestly, SEO should be a priority immediately. It should be a focus as soon as your website is created and launched, as it can assist in a higher ranking at a much faster pace.
9. Successful SEO Strategy: What It Looks Like
Any successful SEO strategy is going to include the consideration of increasing traffic, leads as well as sales. The ultimate goal is always to generate more leads and sales rather than to increase your rankings in the search engines.
While it is fine to hire a professional SEO consultant to handle the optimization of your website, this shouldn't be a one-time thing. SEO should be considered ongoing maintenance when it comes to maintaining the online presence of your business's web presence.
A successful SEO strategy should include the following at minimum:
- On-Site SEO - From your content to images, everything needs to be developed so that it is search-friendly for search engines, such as Google and Bing.
- Off-Site SEO - This will include reaching out to high- authoritative websites within your niche/industry, reporters and other influential and useful individuals to get links back to your website. It will also include optimizing your business listings on various online business directories.
- Mobile-friendliness and Usability - Google is now ranking websites on mobile usability more than it has ever done before. This means that it is important to boost your website's speed and improve its navigational ability for users. In addition, you need to ensure that your website can be viewed on multiple devices - laptops, smartphones and tablets, rather than only desktops.
10. Where Do Small Businesses Need to Start Their SEO Efforts?
SEO starts with the design of your website and the displayed content. This is known as on-site SEO. When your website is being set up, you need to ensure that you have SEO in mind. This starts with keyword research, which ensures that you are focusing on the most ideal search terms for your brand and works throughout the entire process of building your website.
Whether you hire a professional developer to build your website or you use a web hosting platform (such as WordPress) to build your own website, you need to ensure that you keep readability and speed in mind for mobile devices. If you do end up hiring a professional to build your site, make certain that these particular specifications are something that are guaranteed.
11. SEO Technique: Optimizing the User Experience
When it comes to SEO, where do you need to begin? You should start with optimizing your company's website. The architecture of your website will determine the way that your website is laid out and how fast it is. It also helps to determine just how easily Google and Bing can crawl (or index) your website, which is imperative for SEO ranking.
To begin, you will need to look at the technical aspects of your site. Look at the URL structure, site architecture and page coding. If these things aren't up to par, then the rest of the optimizations aren't going to matter much, if at all.
Your website's architecture also has the ability to impact the user's overall experience while on your site. If users are unable to locate what they have come to your site looking for, then they are going to leave. The general goal is to have your site attract users and guide them towards e-mailing you, calling you, visiting your local storefront or making a purchase online.
In addition, the URLs of all of your site pages as well as your main web address need to properly reflect your business and the overall purpose of the page. You want to keep things simple and concise, while ensuring that it properly describes your service and even includes a location when possible for searchers who are local. For example, a good domain name may look like this: "HuntsvillesBestRoofers.com" and a good subdomain name may look like this: "HuntsvillesBestRoofers.com/Contact."
12. SEO Technique: Keywords
Keywords, or keyword phrases, are the words and phrases that online users/customers will type into search engines to search for services or products that you sell or offer. Therefore, it is imperative that you focus on using the most appropriate keywords for your business in your site tags and web content, as this will not only improve the chances of customers finding your site, but it will also improve your overall ranking in search engine results for those keywords.
To find the right and best keywords, you have to take the time to research your customers as well as your competition. This is key, and Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that you can take advantage of to assist you in finding some of the most effective keywords.
Once you have developed a master list of appropriate keywords for your website, you then just need to add them into your website's content. Just make sure not to overuse them in your content, page titles, headers or photo tags, as Google doesn't like this and will penalize you for this. Don't try to trick the search engines either, as they can’t' easily be fooled, and it will only hurt your ranking in the search engines. Instead, simply take time to create well-written content and sprinkle the keywords naturally throughout.
13. SEO Technique: Content Marketing
In order to get more customers to your website and think about buying a product or service, you need to have great content. Whether it is written product pages, testimonials, videos or form fields, content is everything on your website.
Photos need to descriptive and appealing on the home page so visitors immediately understand what your company is about. Photos of services and products need to display to customers what you are offering them. Then, you need to make sure to tag photos and videos with keywords that are descriptive, as this will boost their online visibility in search engine results.
Ultimately, when it comes to digital content the golden rule is simple: Content must always be relevant to your target audience and it must be able to be discovered by search engines. The more your website's content can deliver on what web users are searching for on search engines, the more it has the potential to generate organic search traffic.
14. SEO Technique: Social Media Promotion
While social media cannot help your search engine rankings, it can generate traffic to your website if it is used the proper way. The more people on social media click on your links to your website to read content, the easier and quicker it will be for Google and other search engines to discover, index and crawl your website pages.
So, on your social media pages, make sure that you include all of your business information. This includes NAP (name, address, phone number) information and your hours of operation. When doing so, make certain that they are inputted just as they are on your website and all online directories. Consistency is key with everything. This informs search engines that your information and business is legitimate. This, while small, is another thing that can help improve your search engine rankings.
15. SEO Technique: Publicity & Link Building
To gain a foothold with your online content and get traffic to your website, you need to garner publicity and obtain links back to your site. So, how do you do this and distribute your web content? One of the best ways is to go to social media. However, there are others ways as well, such as including links in your company marketing e-mails and getting other websites (influential and authoritative ones) to link back to your articles, blogs and website landing pages.
16. SEO Technique: Analytics
Site analytics can inform you have how well your SEO efforts are or are not performing and where -- if anywhere -- you need to fine-tune things.
Google Analytics is a great place to start and can let you know where your traffic is actually coming from and where on your site it is going to. On the dashboard, you can see the number of times searchers have found your site using the keywords/phrases that you are targeting. You can also see how many visitors have located your site through online business listings, Facebook, etc. You can also see how long visitors are staying on your site, which can help you determine where your visitors are locating the most valuable information on your website.
With this type of information, you can adjust your SEO efforts so that you can get the most out of your traffic.
17. What Exactly Is Local Search?
When smartphone users utilize their phones to search for nearby services or products, search engines (like Google and Bing) will display local search results based on the user's current location. You can use SEO to appear in these local search results in order to reach customers in your local area.
For most small businesses, this is important since they are primarily focused on selling services or products to a localized area. When someone in a small town needs to locate a plumber, they will probably search for something like "[town name] plumbers". If your business pops up in the corresponding search results, then you have the chance to win that local customer immediately when they're looking for a service or product that you offer.
18. SEO or SEM: Which Is Better?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM, for short) is the paid equivalent of SEO. Essentially, you buy SEM, while you earn SEO. Some look at the two like peanut butter and jelly. With Google constantly revising the first page its search engine results and algorithms on the mend every time we turn around, it is wise to invest in both of these.
Facebook Ads and Google AdWords are products that can display advertisements for your business to specific internet users based upon certain keywords, customer characteristics and location that you want to specifically target.
19. How You Can Get SEO Without a Website for Your Business.
Not all companies have websites, and that's okay. If you don't have a website, then you can still assist potential customers in locating you online by establishing a digital presence by using online business directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp and Manta. For local and overall SEO, online business listings, also known as citations, are crucial. In the eyes of Google, it all boils down to relevancy and legitimacy. Online business listings can help with both of those. So, make sure you figure out what the big-name listing directories are and ensure you're listed in them.
20. What Does an SEO Budget Look Like for Small Businesses?
When it comes to small businesses, how much should you put aside for SEO in terms of cost? Honestly, this isn't a simple question. It is different for each business depending on their industry and their end game. In addition, SEO and marketing essentially is combined, so the budgets are also combined in many cases.
There are a few different factors that come into play when determining your SEO budget. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How much revenue does your small business bring in?
- What industry is your business in?
- How many competitors do you have?
Ultimately, if you are able to set aside about five percent of your total revenue for SEO-focused online marketing (and remember this is not a one-time thing, as this is a long-term marketing tactic), then you should be able to see a boost in customer leads and sales.
21. A Beginner's SEO To-Do List.
If you are ready to turn your company's site into a lead generating machine, but you aren't quite sure how to do it, then here is a to-do list that will help you get started:
- Determine Who Your Target Customer Is - In order to define your target audience, you need to ask a few questions. Who will be purchasing your products/services? What is it that they need that your company is able to provide? When is it that they are likely to purchase your products/services? Where do they work and/or live? Why is it that they should purchase from you instead of your competition?
- Map Out the Purchaser's Journey - Utilizing all of your knowledge of your customers, as well as your collected sales data, map out a few of the most common paths that your customers may take to purchase products/services from your company. This has the ability to assist you in learning how to get your customers on the best possible path to purchasing via digital marketing.
- Build a Website That's Mobile-Responsive That Targets Your Customers' Sales Journey and Information - It is in this step that location data can work incredibly well with your customers' purchasing patterns to help drive sales with local SEO. For example, if you run a coffee shop, you can significantly boost your chances of appearing in smartphone searches by ensuring that your geolocation data is included in online business listings and by focusing on your locale in SEM advertisements. Don't forget to throw in a click-to-call button on your company website and you'll be good to go for mobile users.
- Optimize Your Website for Google Standards - When it comes to search rankings on the internet, the rules are set by none other than Google, the search engine giant. Make sure to take the time to learn what it will take to rank in local searches and general searches on Google so that you stay informed as you go about your SEO. Small business owners need to pay particular attention to the Local Three Pack on Google, as this is essential to ranking in the search engines for any searches that are conducted by nearby local customers in the neighborhood and city.
- Develop Relevant and Useful Content - Make sure that any content creation efforts are done for the sole reason to make your customers happy. You want to get them on your website, then you want them to stay there and give them a reason to come back for more. How-to information and other instructional content is a great place to start, as this helps to build trust with your customers. Then, when they are ready to make a purchase, they'll come to the company (you) that earned their trust.
- Dedicate Some of Your Marketing Budget to Link Building - If you have other websites linking back to your site, then it lets Google, Bing and other search engines know that your business is a legitimate and trustworthy business within the industry. This helps to improve your website's authority and ranking in the search engine for the corresponding keyword. Generating links can be as easy as submitting guest blogs, being featured on local news sites, or being linked to on your local chamber of commerce.
Is Your Small Business in Need of SEO?
If you are still uncertain as to whether or not your small business is in need of SEO, that's okay. Feel free to give us a call or shoot us an e-mail to discuss your situation in detail. Our WebDetail team is here for you to help you succeed.