The Importance of SEO for Small Businesses
As a small business, you may have heard the term “SEO” being tossed around by digital marketers. You may even have a general idea that SEO refers to ‘ranking high’ in Google.
Businesses are increasingly recognizing the significance of incorporating SEO strategies into their marketing blueprint. In fact, 61% of companies mention “growing SEO” as their top marketing priority.
But what is small business SEO exactly? And what is the importance of SEO for small businesses?
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website content in a way that is easy for search engines to find and display your site to internet users.
Before we dig a little deeper into what ‘optimizing’ may look like, we need first to understand a little about search engines.
What you need to know about search engines
It’s undeniable how large a role search engines play in our everyday lives. Only 20 years ago, people were looking to libraries, schools, and personal resources as their primary source of information. Today, it’s hard to imagine a life without being able to ‘Google’ a question and expect an instant answer.
The main job of a search engine is simple: to provide the searcher with the information they are seeking.
At a high level, a search engine will do three things:
- Interpret your question
- Search its database for the answer
- Display results based on what it thinks is the ‘best’ answer
As you can imagine, completing these three tasks is no simple feat. With about 2 billion websites on the Internet in 2020, how is the search engine supposed to determine the best answer to your search query?
Search engines rank pages through an algorithm. This algorithm examines the content of your business’s webpage and, based on the content, will rank it on its Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The more ‘relevant’ your content is (according to the algorithm rules), the higher it will rank your site.
The bad news is, no one actually knows the exact algorithm. Google, the largest search engine by far, has over 200 ranking factors within its algorithm.
The good news is, Google does provide us with SEO hints as to what they’re looking for. These guidelines, along with other proven factors, gives us the basis for optimizing web page content.
Some basic components of SEO, include:
- Age of your site
- Keyword usage
- Quality of content
- Content length
- Page speed and responsiveness
- Easy to read
- Image optimization
- Backlinks (i.e. external sites linking to your site)
- Internal links (i.e. pages in your site linking to other pages within your site)
- And more…
The more optimized your content is, based on these factors, the better your chances of ranking on the top pages of search engines.
Why SEO matters for your business
Why should small businesses care about SEO? We’ll explore several reasons why SEO for small business websites should be a priority.
1. Customers need to find you
This may seem obvious. Businesses need customers. And how are customers finding businesses?
The answer is indisputable: search engines.
Consider these two important facts:
- 93% of customers begin their search through a search engine
- 75% of users don’t look at anything past the first page of search results
The fact is, before any of your customers will pick up the phone or visit your business, they will search for your services via a search engine. Moreover, if you are not ranking for anything other than the first page, you’re likely not going to be found at all.
Can you now see just how important SEO is? Your potential customers are looking for your services. It doesn’t matter if you offer the best products or services out there. If you don’t focus on SEO, you simply won’t be found.
2. Higher conversion rates
What is a conversion? Conversion is when a user takes a desired action on your website. Most commonly, the intended action would mean a sale. But, that’s not always the case.
A desired action can take on many forms. Here are some other common conversions:
- A click-through to the next page
- Subscription to your newsletter
- Form completion
The goal of any business is to increase your conversion rates. How does SEO impact conversion rates?
According to a Hubspot study, SEO leads are eight times more likely to convert compared to outbound leads.
What this means is, organic traffic from search engines is more likely going to convert than, say, PPC, or other forms of traffic.
Not only will SEO increase visibility for your business, but it’ll also give you better chances to convert into paying customers.
3. More affordable
When compared to other forms of outbound marketing, SEO can be significantly less costly. In fact, inbound marketing (i.e. SEO) cost 62% less than traditional marketing.
It’s no secret that traditional forms of advertising can be extremely costly. Small businesses on average can spend between $9,000 to $10,000 per month on Google ads. While pay-per-click (PPC) ads can get you immediate traffic, you will pay a hefty price for it.
In contrast, SEO costs less because you’re primarily paying for useful content your prospective customers are already looking for. For small businesses who’d want to invest in ongoing SEO services, you can expect to start off at $500 per month. For larger SEO campaigns, businesses can expect to pay $2,500 to $5,000 a month.
Obviously, there are many variables to the cost of SEO. But in general, SEO is a far less costly form of marketing than many others.
4. Authority and trust
It’s a well-known fact that the most valuable type of traffic is organic. Search engine users naturally trust sites that are organically ranked high as opposed to paid ads.
Google is extremely particular when it comes to ranking pages. As mentioned, there are over 200 factors they look at when deciding who should occupy the top ranks. Its goal is to provide users with the best and relevant websites possible.
That’s why users will typically never scroll past the first page of the search results. They trust that the top-ranked sites are the most authoritative and relevant.
How to get started
Now that you understand a bit of what SEO is and the Importance of SEO for small businesses, how do we actually implement SEO?
There are two ways you can go about doing this:
- Hire an SEO expert
- Do it yourself
Hire an SEO expert
Hiring an SEO expert will free you from keeping up with and learning all the SEO trends. You can spend your time building your business.
It’s important to find a reputable SEO expert, though. Plenty of self-professed ‘gurus’ utilize shady methods (i.e. blackhat SEO) to get sites to rank. These methods can be detrimental to your site and ranking if (or when) Google finds out about it.
As mentioned, reputable SEO services will typically start at $500 per month at a minimum. There are plenty of ‘SEO freelancers’ out there that will charge for much less. While their price point may be attractive, the low price should sound warning bells for low-quality services.
Do it yourself
It might take a little more effort, but learning and doing SEO yourself can be a rewarding endeavor. There are tons of resources online you can utilize to learn SEO. Typically, SEO is split into three categories:
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Off-page SEO
All three play a significant factor in how well your site ranks. Even if you don’t commit to a full-fledged SEO campaign, starting off with some basic on-page optimization can give your site a boost in organic ranking.
We’ve developed a handy, on-page SEO cheat sheet for businesses. It’s a checklist of everything you need to do to optimize your page or blog post. We also include useful small business SEO tips to get your site ranking.
All you need to do is print it off and check-off each item each time you write an article, blog post, or web page.
Let’s get ranking!
Understanding the importance of SEO for small businesses is the first key step to getting your site ranked. The next step is to actually apply the knowledge.
Quality content for businesses is a vital aspect of ranking high in search engines. Here at Josh Lee Copywriting, we’ve written website pages, blog posts, guides, and more, for companies in the legal, financial, and real estate industries.
Contact us to see how you can get SEO-optimized content for your business today!
And remember to get your FREE on-page SEO cheat sheet!