17 Jan How SEO Can Help Your Small Business
Not too long ago, small business owners required capital, a good location and just the right amount of ambition and drive to run their enterprises successfully. Times have changed and today small business owners have to worry about things like SEO. Search engine optimization is the practice of developing your website with the intention of remaining visible in the free listings of major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! SEO is what increases your chances of being found when a customer searches for a product or service like yours. Prominent web presence increases your outreach to potential customers, which translates into better returns for your business. Remember, the search engine is usually the first point of contact between the customer and your brand. If the consumer does not see your brand in the search engine, you don’t exist.
The core goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your website. Traffic acquired through SEO practices is called organic or editorial traffic. It is different from the traffic acquired through search engine marketing (SEM) which you have to pay for. SEO is the most cost effective way of bringing in new customers but most people just opt for quicker methods (SEM) because of the fact that SEO requires time and lots of patience. When done right, SEO can be the best thing to happen to a small business.
Types of SEO
There are basically two types of SEO: on-page and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is everything on your site. These includes the keywords in your content, your HTML tags and even the code. Off-page SEO includes everything else outside of your website, such as backlinks and so on. On-page SEO is crucial and business owners must optimize it as it is within their control. Off-page SEO is outside your control but you can also influence it to some extent.
If you want to make sure your business stays ahead of the competition, your onpage SEO must be done excellently. This includes making sure you use the right HTML tags on your business and using structured data to markup your content. And speaking of content, you must ensure you provide fresh, original, informative content that is keyword optimized. Gone are the days of keyword targeting, where businesses would throw in several keywords in boring content and call it SEO. Nowadays, if you want to attract new customers and retain old ones, your content must be fresh and interesting.
On-page SEO also includes local SEO. Local SEO is all about making certain your business is optimized for your locality. For example, if you run a carpet cleaning business in Toronto, ON, customers will find you by typing in “Toronto carpet cleaning” and not just “carpet cleaning.” As such, you must ensure your site undergoes the necessary local SEO strategies.
SEO and Your Small Business
Well, now that you have an understanding of what SEO is, what does your business stand to gain from SEO?
- More traffic, more sales. The internet era has ushered in a new type of consumer, the kind that transacts mainly on their computer or smartphone. This is the type of consumer who, upon realizing they need a product or service, turns to their favorite search engine for help. They don’t walk to the mall or drive down to the store. They are more comfortable buying everything they need, or almost everything, online. Now as a small business owner, you cannot afford to ignore this consumer. He is a force to reckon with and you must ensure you catch his attention the very first time he types those crucial search terms into the search engine. And SEO is how you do it.
- Far-reaching online presence. Online reputation is very important for a small business. Successful small businesses are those that have prominent web presence, and a good reputation too. You build a reputation in the online circles by ensuring you stay relevant. If people search for a product you are offering, you must appear. If this is not so, you will quickly sink into oblivion where you will count your losses forever. Great SEO is a cost effective means of ensuring customers continue talking about you and visiting your site, because as long as that is happening you will be laughing all the way to the bank.
- Perfect way to advertise yourself/your services. If you are offering a service, more so if the service has something to do with online marketing, advertising and even SEO, you must have good SEO yourself! There’s no two ways about it. You cannot claim to offer expert advice in a certain field if you are not making use of the advice yourself. Small businesses that offer online services must especially make sure they keep up with SEO practices because anything less than the first page of search results is embarrassing.
As already mentioned, most people will simply opt for quicker practices such as SEM because they are, well, quicker. The problem with paid-for advertising is that it does not usually result in organic traffic, which is what you need if you are hoping to grow your business.
But SEO is tricky because it takes time to start really being effective, right? Well, that is true. But as cliché as it may sound, nothing worthwhile comes easily. You must be willing to invest in SEO if you want good returns. As a business owner, you are most likely too tied up to do the search engine optimization yourself. And let’s be honest, while most entrepreneurs have commendable business acumen, not many can roll their sleeves and do the SEO work by themselves. It is usually too technical and too tiring for their liking.
The good news is that you can hire a SEO company to do the optimization for you. All you have to do is use your favorite search engine to look up the company, dig around a bit and ask the right questions. And remember, if they’re not appearing on the first page of the search results, they’re definitely out. After all, who wants a SEO company that cannot optimize its own site?