A quick guide to small business SEO
There are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States alone, and they account for 99.7% of all businesses in the country. Are you among them? If the answer is yes, you know just how challenging it is to rise to the occasion and beat your competitors in the battle for customers.
In the 21st century, the battlefield is online – between 70 and 80% of people claim they research a company before choosing to do business with them. Evidently, in order for a small business to thrive, it has to boost its online influence. Still, no more than 17% invest in SEO.
Whether they do not understand the value of this marketing channel, or simply do not understand it, the fact is – SEO is essential for business growth. Whichever the case, here is the gist of everything a young entrepreneur should know to get started.
Search engine optimization represents a methodology of tactics, which focus on improving a website’s ranking in organic search results. Namely, what makes organic (natural) search results more appealing to marketers is the fact that desktop users choose them over paid results 95% of the time.
It is about providing people with what they want and presenting those signals to search engines in order to rank higher. When talking about SEO, we are actually referring to a set of techniques that have to work together to form a bulletproof digital marketing strategy. Some of the techniques include:
- Website architecture and optimization
- Keyword research and analysis
- Link building
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing and promotion
The importance of SEO
Around 8 out of 10 customers state they research a company before making a final purchase decision. If your prospects cannot find you in search results, naturally, they will go to one of your competitors who has already mastered their digital marketing tactics.
SEO is what gets you listed in the 'modern phonebook', to call it that. However, it does not list businesses alphabetically, but in accordance with search engine guidelines. Online marketing helps you attract and acquire new customers, and it requires your focus as soon as you set up your website.
Search engine optimization is especially relevant for startup companies and small businesses that do not have the funds to splurge on expensive marketing campaigns – SEO does come at a certain price, but a significantly more affordable one. What makes this marketing strategy ideal for small players looking for a way to swim with the big fish in the online waters.
What a successful SEO strategy should integrate
An SEO strategy should include tactics that help a small business boost traffic, leads and sales. To maintain your web presence, your strategy needs to include:
- On-site SEO – optimization of everything from your content to images in accordance with search engine guidelines.
- Off-site SEO – optimization of the company in listings and online directories; this includes reaching out to industry influencers and anyone who might find your website resourceful and worth linking to.
You begin by building a website and move on to content optimization – that is, optimization of everything from your Home, About us and Services pages to a company blog. Still, note that keyword research precedes this process in order to determine the phrases that are best to target. These represent words and phrases your customers are most likely to type into a search engine when looking for solutions you have to offer.
To define relevant keywords, you will have to research your competitors to see what they rank for and study your customers and see what they search for. During this process, you will benefit most out of Keyword Planner, but you can always check out other keyword research tools and combine the info you collect.
Most important SEO techniques to consider
Quality content on your website provides opportunities on several levels:
- Well-written and well-optimized content ranks you higher in search results
- Establishes you as a knowledge leader in the industry
- Acts as a relevant source of information for your target audience
To distribute your content across the web, you have to implement link building process into your strategy. Target only high authority websites, offer your website as a relevant resource and get others to link to your blogs or landing pages.
Social media marketing
Though this technique does not directly help your company with rankings, if done right it can drive targeted traffic your way. Social media platforms are another place to share information about the company, but what makes this marketing aspect effective is the fact that you get to familiarize yourself better with your audience through their comments – this real time info is probably the most relevant feedback you will get.
The bottom line
SEO is not a that-one-time-thing-you-paid-for; it requires a constant investment of your resources and attention. It is an ever changing industry and you are obliged to follow updates as they occur in order to keep your business high in search results. Your business search engine optimization strategy will have to be improved based on your customer preferences, search technology and the natural growth of your business.