How can small businesses take advantage of SEO?
Google has reported that between 2015 - 2017, user searches for “____ near me today/tonight” increased by 900%. This wasn’t just limited to things like restaurants and movie theatres, but also products as varied as “cowboy boots” to “tarragon”.
As a small business, you may be more focused on retaining customers and staying afloat with the COVID-19 pandemic tightening budgets, but through SEO, you can significantly expand your online presence and turn it into your primary channel for getting customers.
In this blog post, we will show you should consider expanding your SEO strategy, and the best ways to achieve results.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the act of tailoring your business to be easily searched for on the internet. This means that when a potential customer searches for keywords related to the services you offer, your business will be one of the first results shown to them.
Search engines aim to be as reliable as possible, and so actively look for the best websites to show its users. SEO is about making it easy for the search engine algorithm to choose your business to show its users above others.
Achieving this is often a long-term, complex job made up of different parts that can yield significant results:
- Onpage SEO - this is everything that happens on the website, such as going from one page to the next and making them stay on your website through high-quality content.
- Offpage SEO - this is everything else that happens outside of your website, including linkbuilding, expanding citations, and building trust with search engines and other websites who might link to your domain
- Local SEO - this is about optimizing your business to rank high for the customers closest to you, who are most likely to use your services
- Keyword research - this is looking at which key search terms you can feasibly rank highly in, and targeting those over ones with a lot of direct competition
- Backlinking - this means getting links from other websites to your own, which boosts your reputation as a reliable company others have heard of
- Content strategy - this includes creating an SEO-driven content calendar containing different types of content that will help you build an audience
- Conversion rate optimization - this consists of the tactics that turn a visitor into a customer
How Can SEO Benefit Small Businesses?
SEO allows you to:
- significantly reach customers on a wider scale
- get visitors to stay for longer by making their experience as easy as it can be
- get search traffic by ranking in search engines, rather than paying for ads
- start sensible digital strategies sooner rather than later
Expanding your reach
As a small business owner, you might be tempted to approach building prospective customers through traditional marketing techniques, such as ads and doing offline marketing initiatives.
But by growing a strong customer base through high-quality content that’s searchable online, you can expand your outreach by getting to the front page of Google in your local listings, and even compete on an international scale if your product can benefit from this.
Think about it from the perspective of a potential customer: how many times have you typed in the relevant keywords, and just clicked the first two or three websites you found?
And in comparison: when was the last time you opened a Yellow Pages?
Most of us are used to getting the information we need online in the shortest period of time with as little effort put into research as possible. This is particularly relevant for e-commerce stores, as 43% of revenue comes from organic traffic, compared to just 26% of traffic resulting from ads.
As you experience more traffic, the major search engines will consider your business something of an expert on the topics involved and will showcase your business at a faster pace for relevant topics.
Reducing your bounce rate
What’s that sound? It’s the sound of your potential customers leaving your website when they find it difficult to navigate or find the information they’re searching for.
Reduce your bounce rate by putting your customers’ needs first. This in turn will improve your rankings with search engines.
The best way to do this is to make sure your content is trustworthy, and always focused on benefitting the customer.
A key element is making your business accessible on all types of devices.
If I can easily find what I’m looking for on your website while I’m using my laptop, but on your mobile site I keep accidentally clicking the link next to the one I’m after, I’m going to look elsewhere pretty quickly.
Converting clicks into loyal customers
A seamless and conversion-driven user experience encourages potential clients to become loyal customers and drive an increase in revenue of around 4-8% (source: Bain). More site visits means higher chances for that conversion to happen.
We also understand that the biggest ROI of any marketing channel is through email. Through triggered email forms and lead magnets, you can get email subscriptions to later turn into clients.
If your business has a consistent, friendly and useful digital presence, you can expect an increased revenue from search traffic and retention of this traffic. This in turn will lead to repeat customers who are more likely to talk about your product with their friends.
Don’t break the bank
One of the main benefits of really smart, targeted SEO is that you can see measurable growth without needing an enormous marketing budget.
Sure, you could hire a bunch of social media influencers and say “go make a TikTok about my business”, and hope it works out, but why pay a lot of money for something that might not bring in much growth?
Spending a small amount of your marketing budget on SEO is a more effective digital marketing strategy than paying your nephew and his friends $75 per post to rave about “this one website that solves all your problems!”
People are more likely to trust a business when it’s one of the first results they find on Google.
Remember: search engines aren’t going away any time soon. A survey completed by The Manifest found that in 2020, only 30% of small businesses were using SEO as one of their marketing strategies.
It’s a lot more cost effective to get ahead with affordable, long-term marketing SEO now than it is to come in and try and beat the competition when the other 70% realize what they’re missing.
Tools to Use
SEO may involve an upfront investment, but if you’re focused on starting cheap, you can get started with these following tools.
- Google Search Console - this allows you to fix website errors, see which keywords you’re ranking for and which bring you the most traffic, among other things. It’s your most powerful SEO tool - and it’s free!
- Google Analytics - this tool helps you monitor your traffic, showing you which of your pages are the most popular, which have a high bounce rate, and which other websites and search engines are bringing visitors to your site
- Keywords Everywhere - this browser extension shows you how many people have searched for specific keywords over a period of time, and how much others are willing to pay for the cost of a single click for this keyword in Google Ads
- SerpRobot - otherwise known as the Search Engine Ranking Position checker, this robot can tell you how high your business ranks on Google
- Bing WebMaster Tools - while you may assume nobody uses Bing, Microsoft claims to actually have a 33% market share in the US, equating to roughly 5 billion searches. A small business owner ignores Bing’s impact at their peril, and this tool can help optimize your searches for Bing
- Google My Business - this is the profile that pops up when you Google search a business, or find it through Google Maps. It lets the searcher see your website, your business hours, a physical place of address, etc. Keeping this up to date is crucial for keeping customers happy, and is something a lot of companies have neglected to update during the pandemic
Should I invest in expensive SEO tools as a small business owner?
If you have the time to learn how to use them, yes. Otherwise, no.
Unless you’re dead set about learning about SEO, investing in expensive SEO tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush that you’ll have to pay around $180 per month may not be the best option for you as a small business owner.
With an ever-growing list of priorities, you might not be able to get the returns that you want as you do not have enough time to learn how to fully take advantage of these platforms.
If you have the budget for expensive SEO tools, consider hiring a freelancer or an agency to do the bulk of the work for you. This way, you can focus on other areas that require expansion, whilst your SEO strategy is under execution.
Why Hire An Seo Services Company?
If you’ve managed to follow along so far, you might be wondering why you should hire an outside company to help with your SEO services.
It can improve your business on a local and global scale scale
We’ve already told you the growing opportunities for small businesses to take advantage of online search engines, as a larger portion of the world goes online.
SEO will help your business show up as one of the results these customers find when they search for your product “near me”.
One key question to ask yourself as a small business is “should I even try to compete with much bigger, global businesses?”
The answer is: yes, but only if I’m smart about it.
You may never be able to outrank giant companies with an unlimited marketing budget, but with an effective content strategy, you can rank for underserved and overlooked keywords that your competitors may have failed to identify.
Let’s use soap as a broad example. Chances are, if you search for “soap” on your preferred search engine, the biggest results will be giant corporations like Dove and Lush, who you’ll never be able to outrank. But let’s start going more specific:
“Buy soap” → Too broad and simple.
“Buy soap in” → Already more targeted. There is bound to be less competition in more local areas.
“Buy natural soap for X skin” → This target more niche types of soap that may be less competitive.
You get the point.
By targeting keywords that are still widely searched, but perhaps not as obviously targeted as those main searches, you can improve your business’ local SEO rankings to compete with the companies with much bigger resources.
Ongoing support and content updates
While SEO might seem simple, the truth is it’s an ongoing project. The internet is a rapidly changing place - as new content is uploaded, websites must stay up to date in order to remain relevant.
How often have you searched for a resolution to a technical problem, and specifically chosen the results that are most recent? Even if your tech is a few years older, you assume someone having the issue last month will have the most up to date solution, compared to someone who had the same problem in 2011.
Even if the resolution is the same on both pages, you’re more likely to click the one whose online content appears to be continually updated and checked.
As a premium content marketing agency offering unrivalled rates, we are focused on providing results and agility over anything else. Just go through our Samples page to see the quality of the content we provide, and compare it with those offered by other agencies.
We broke down one example of this measurable growth on our blog post covering our work for MentorCruise. Through our SEO services we helped them increase their monthly, recurring revenue by 107%, and their monthly trials by 100%.
The importance of SEO for small businesses cannot be understated. In today’s world of increased reliance on search engines and online content, it’s not enough to be passive and hope that customers will eventually find your content if you’re offering the best services.
Your competitors are boosting their ranking on search engines to grow their business and increase their revenue. Why wouldn’t you?