Anyone who’s ever built a website knows that traffic isn’t guaranteed. In fact, it can feel downright painful when you spend your hours building a beautiful site and no one visits it. It’s not that the website isn’t great, but may be more due to the fact that search engines are passing it over.
Search engines like authoritative sites, and a new small business site doesn’t generally fit that bill. In order to prove to search engines that our sites are worthy of display, we turn to SEO.
Small business SEO has come under scrutiny over the recent past, with some people believing SEO is a relic of the turn of the century. The truth is, it hasn’t gone away. It’s simply evolved. Search engine optimization has gotten more involved and is no longer accomplished by inserting a few random keywords into the bodies of our top pages.
If you’re on the fence and looking for some SEO advice, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to take a look at what small business SEO looks like today, and how it can help drive new business.
What is SEO?
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it stands for Search Engine Optimization. When we talk about small business SEO, optimization is the key word. We are optimizing our websites so search engines can make the most of the information contained in them. Let’s dig deeper into what that means.
At its most basic, SEO is a way of giving search engines the information they need to assess what’s on your site and determine whether or not it’s relevant to searches performed on the engine. That does include keywords, but it’s much more involved than that.
Everything from the content you create to the outside content your site links to will play a part. SEO is very complex, but you can still get its benefits without taking courses at the local college. Let’s look at a couple of examples of small business SEO tactics and how they can benefit your small business.
How Does SEO Work?
You know that SEO is the act of optimizing your website for search engines, but what does that mean? Here are a few big ticket tactics that can significantly affect the way your site ranks in searches.
Since people use words and phrases to find what they’re looking for online, it’s important that you have high quality, relevant keywords on your site. Since simple keywords like “sports bar” or “candle shop” can be hard to rank for, you may have to think outside the box here. If you’re known for your vast beer selection or unique candle designs, calling that out in keywords and phrases can improve results.
Local SEO keywords are helpful too. Using phrases like “local sports bar downtown Minneapolis” can net you better results. There is an art to picking the right keywords, and any good SEO service knows how to identify them.
Part of building credibility for your brand is broadcasting your information in as many places as possible. Including your business name, address, and phone number on sites like Yelp and Google let potential customers know you’re not a fly-by-night outfit. By listing your business off-site, you let search engines know you are a legitimate operation.
Another way to build credibility is through link building. This is the practice of linking to your site from other reputable sites. You can accomplish this through guest posting on external sites or engaging in cross-promotions with other brands. When reputable sites link to yours, they’re seen as valuable SEO recommendations.
There are far too many tactics to cover in this article, which is why most small businesses outsource their SEO. Let’s look at some of the benefits you’ll get from engaging with a reputable firm to handle your small business SEO.
How can SEO benefit your small business?
SEO can take a lot of the marketing legwork off your team’s plate and deliver results at a fraction of the cost you’ll pay for in-house marketing campaigns. This frees up your team to focus their efforts elsewhere, bringing in even more business. Let’s explore some of the top ways SEO benefits small businesses.
SEO Increases Web Traffic
One of the most important benefits you’ll get from launching an SEO campaign is a boost to the number of visitors your website sees. The more traffic your site gets, the more potential clients or sales you can close. By attracting them with the right keywords and phrases, you can even ensure the leads you get are from individuals who are actively seeking your product or service.
SEO Can Help Drive More Local Traffic
Speaking of driving traffic to your site, relevance matters. If you sell products or services locally, visitors from around the globe may be less important to you. SEO is a great way to rank better in local searches. Let your potential customers know that you are nearby to get the most out of “near me” searches with a local SEO campaign.
SEO Increases Your Credibility
Most people searching for products and services online choose something from the first page of results. In fact, studies show that 75% or more of us never reach the second page of search results. If you find your site buried a couple of pages deep in search results, SEO can help.
Spending some time updating your site with relevant keywords and increasing site speeds can help you appear higher in searches. That will lend credibility to your site, as engines front-load searches with results from reputable sites.
SEO Boosts Your Site’s Usability
SEO can even help your site run better. By doing the things necessary to make your site appealing to search engines, you are also doing the things that make it more appealing to customers. A site that’s got great structure and navigation is going to tick off a lot of boxes for both bots and the general public.
SEO Delivers Quantifiable Results
Unlike many forms of advertising, SEO gives you the ability to see exactly how well your small business SEO services campaign is working. That’s because you can see what keywords brought them to your site and you can see what links they clicked on. This kind of insight helps you make improvements to your site that allow you to capture more business for each unique visitor. Few forms of advertising give you this control, and it’s part of what sets SEO apart.
SEO Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
Once you have a visual of how people are interacting with your site, you can make some of the changes yourself. You can do things like utilize high-value keywords in your copy and improve your site’s usability without outside help. It will require some know-how, but if you’ve got the skills, you can save yourself some money.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
With small business SEO, cost is king. Everything we do must be worth the price. The cost of SEO for small businesses depends mainly on the service plan you choose. If you go with the bare minimum, it can be incredibly affordable. If you decide to utilize more services, the cost will rise.
That doesn’t make small business SEO overly expensive, however. It also depends upon the payment structure you choose. Getting it right can save you a good chunk of change. Here are some of the most popular options on the market.
One popular SEO for small business service option is the hourly rate. This can be a great choice for those on a tight budget or for those willing to put in some time and effort themselves. With the hourly rate, you’ll choose the options you want and pay an hourly rate for SEO services performed.
If you’ve got particularly big plans or your plans are likely to change, this route can get spendy. Paying someone hourly to implement your SEO and having them change it every time you change your mind sets you up for a spending spree. If you’d like to take a more agile approach, project-based SEO may be a better option.
Project Based SEO
Choosing this option for your small business SEO will allow you to see your expenses upfront. You’ll get a quote that takes you from where you are to where you want to be, and any changes or revisions should be built into that cost. This option is particularly attractive for those who know what outcomes they’re after.
Retainer Based SEO
The most popular SEO strategy for small businesses is probably the retainer. It allows us to pay a monthly rate and steadily grow website traffic and rankings in a predictable way. SEO is not accomplished in a single motion. Ensuring you have professional help on your side, month by month, is a great way to make the most of your SEO efforts.
How long does SEO take?
Many first time SEO clients get excited and want to see results as soon as they sign the contract. Unfortunately, that’s rarely possible. SEO is a long game. Even though changes can often be made fairly quickly, it will take time to see the results of that labor. Remember, the search engines need to learn about those changes before they can pass that information along to customers.
That said, you’ll likely start to see some concrete results within 3-6 months, with the most drastic results appearing at the 6 months to 1-year mark. It’s important that you give small business SEO time to work before making substantial changes for this reason.
Is SEO Still Worth it for Small Businesses?
Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of SEO services for small businesses, it’s time to examine the ultimate question. Is the cost worth it? It’s a highly personal question and comes down to what you want out of your business.
Some small businesses are happy at their current level. If you’re an independent contractor with a steady business and no interest in growing, you may not need it. Small business SEO strategy is built on generating sales and growing businesses. If that’s what you’re after, there are great reasons to start a campaign.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of SEO for small businesses. It will help you grow in ways that are hard to replicate, and it will do it at a cost that won’t break the bank. If you’re ready to explore your options, reach out to learn how we can help.