Why SEO is Important for Your Small Business
What is SEO?
Ask anyone leading a startup, and they will tell you just how challenging running a small business is. Entrepreneurs must consider their expenses while trying to garner more business for their products and services. SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most valuable tools for building brand awareness, trust, and ultimately revenue for your business. SEO is highly beneficial for both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses. Properly implemented SEO strategies will help boost your company’s website towards the top of trusted search engine queries for massively increased visibility and retention.
Think about it like this: a local entrepreneur opens a restaurant in a small town. They serve incredible food and fine cocktails with top-notch service. Their products and services are of the highest quality and the owner is confident his venture will be a success. The only problem is there is no parking lot and no roads leading to his restaurant, and no signs or billboards letting the town know it’s there. With such a limited advertising presence, there is no organic word-of-mouth marketing happening around town. No one really knows his restaurant even exists, and the few that do have no way of getting there. With no parking lot, the people who do show up don’t stay for long and they spend less money. Needless to say, his business doesn’t last long.
In this scenario, SEO functions as the roads, billboards, parking lot, and word-of-mouth. SEO won’t improve the product (in this case the food, drinks, and service), but it will help potential customers discover the business and keep them there. It will bring visibility and provide many avenues of easy access for customers to discover, learn about, and purchase your product. It drives and directs traffic to your website for organic and sustainable growth. For small businesses in particular, this is a critically important tool for establishing your brand and building trust.
Here’s a few statistics that highlight SEO’s importance for small businesses:
- According to GO-Gulf, 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information. If you run a small business and you’re trying to reach more customers in your area, SEO can guide them to you first.
- 97% of people use the internet more than anything else to learn about local small businesses, according to a report from SEO Tribunal. Potential customers trying to search for information on your business may use a variety of keywords and phrases. SEO helps ensure your website always shows up.
- A 2018 report from Chatmeter claims “near me” type searches grew by more than 900% between 2016 and 2018. They grew an additional 28% throughout 2020 despite the COVID pandemic, says a panel of experts at Rio SEO. More and more people are actively searching for small businesses and SEO can help your local search efforts.
- More than 90% of people never go beyond the first page of a Google search, according to data released by Reputation911. Utilizing SEO strategies can drive your website to the top of search results for improved visibility and trust.
While SEO benefits small businesses the most, it is still a very useful tool for medium to large enterprises regardless of industry. Consumers are looking for brands like yours every day, and leveraging search engines is one of the best ways to reach those potential customers.
How Does SEO Work and What are the Benefits?
SEO is necessary for your business’ online presence because without it, you’re budgeting money on content that isn’t getting you anywhere. Honing in on your target audience is an essential part of any marketing strategy, and without SEO assistance your website is the proverbial needle in the haystack. However, SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it is influenced significantly by a company’s offline presence and marketing. Face-to-face interactions are one of the best ways to generate social media activity, public reviews, and page visits, all of which play a very important role in boosting your SEO performance.
Keywords are basic phrases or words potential customers will use when utilizing search engines such as Google. They are one of the main components to driving traffic towards your website. They are influenced by volume, headers, image names, and tags. By adjusting phrasing and including important keywords in your online content, it is possible to boost your website’s appeal to search engines. Through understanding the keywords that customers are searching for, you can better target and relate to them while simultaneously drawing attention to your business.
When inserting keywords into your business content, you must strike a careful balance. On the one hand, too few keywords won’t have a strong enough pull for search engines to hit on your website. On the other, excessive repetition of keywords will not only affect the readability of your content, but Google actively flags websites for keyword jamming. Keywords need to actually fit the content on your website and they need to sound natural.
Knowing Your Audience
One of the most basic but important parts of marketing is knowing your audience and understanding what they want. By researching popular keywords you can identify trending searches and then incorporate them into your content. In doing so, customers will have an easier time finding your business over a competitor.
Establishing Your Brand and Building Trust
If your company is looking to build brand recognition while increasing visibility and accessibility, investing in SEO for your website is a must. By consistently publishing SEO-friendly content that relates to a specific field or industry, you begin to build authority and establish legitimacy in those areas over time. Not only does this make your business more attractive to potential clients, but it also becomes a source and principal component of discussions in those communities. The content ultimately becomes your voice in the community.
Unfortunately, small businesses can’t always establish themselves solely through these content releases. Instead, they frequently utilize other off-site SEO methods such as backlinking, guest blogging, or social media/influencer marketing. Off-site SEO is primarily reliant upon human behavior (i.e. people referencing and sharing content they like with others in their social circles) so growth tends to happen a lot more organically than with a virality-driven approach.
Off-site SEO is important because it comes off as more natural and less of an in-your-face, aggressive, and organized marketing campaign. It helps your brand become more naturally associated with the market which tends to build trust easier. Backlinking involves a network of different businesses and websites all linking to and promoting one another in an effort to drive traffic and build reputability. Social media influencers work like sponsored ads for businesses, and we’re all aware of the incredible powers of celebrity endorsement. Social media platforms are also the fastest, easiest, and most direct ways for small businesses to engage with potential customers while also boosting their SEO.
Generating Leads, Converting Customers, and Improving ROI
Incorporating SEO into your company’s marketing strategy can generate more traffic while also establishing a sales pipeline directly from search engines to your web content where consumers can learn about and buy your product. In this way, SEO helps to attract and generate new paying customers. Including an information request form is also very important for gathering information, generating leads, or circling back for non-converts with retargeting campaigns in the future.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most important things for any company regardless of size is its bottom line and the necessity to turn a profit. Onboarding an SEO team or contracting a freelance SEO consultant is an investment. Fortunately, SEO investment is one of those rare instances where you get more than what you paid for. On average, every dollar invested into SEO for e-commerce businesses sees a ROI (return of interest) of about $2.75, according to WebFX.
SEO is not for the Impatient
If you’ve made it this far and decided that pursuing an SEO strategy would benefit your business, keep one thing in mind: patience. Hiring someone (or a team) to write SEO-friendly web copy and content does not mean you will see a sudden and exponential growth in traffic overnight. It takes a dedicated and committed long-term approach of producing high-quality content to build trust with both search engines and consumers alike. In some circumstances and industries it can even take years before your site starts breaching the first few pages of Google. But once your website has reached those first pages it can initiate a snowball effect that rapidly accelerates growth.
At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.