Search engine optimization, or SEO, is sometimes viewed by marketers as trivial tinkering that won’t yield real results. Just as often, SEO is cast aside by companies that see its value but believe it is too technical or complex for their team to execute. In both cases, businesses miss out on one of the most indispensable digital marketing tactics — especially for small businesses. Here’s why your organization needs to make SEO an integral part of your marketing strategy.
Is SEO worth it for a small business?
Absolutely. But don’t just take our word for it — let the numbers convince you. Nearly 70% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and with 3.5 billion Google searches happening each day, it’s easy to see why ranking well on search engine result pages leads to increased visibility and traffic.
However, it’s not enough to simply let Google’s crawlers index your website and hope for the best. Fewer than one percent of all searchers click on results from the second page and beyond, so if you really want to reap the benefits of Google’s high search volume, you’ll need to earn your site a spot on the coveted first page of results. To do that, you need a dedicated SEO strategy.
If investing in SEO for your small business sounds expensive, it’s worth noting that not having an SEO strategy could cost you far more in potential sales. One study found that SEO leads had the highest overall level of conversion success with a close rate of 14.6% — that’s higher than the rates of paid search, social media, and outbound leads combined! In other words, a solid SEO strategy will pay for itself.
Benefits of SEO for small businesses
Here are four concrete benefits small businesses can expect to enjoy after investing in SEO.
Reach a larger audience
If you want new customers to discover your business, you need to make sure they can find you. With more than half of all web traffic coming from organic search, the easiest way to do that is to ensure that your website and its content are fully optimized for search engines. Ranking on the first page of Google means appearing in front of the largest volume of searchers possible, increasing the odds that users will click through to your website.
Of course, it won’t do your business much good to rank for a term like “tennis shoes” if you sell dog food. By ranking for keywords and phrases that are aligned with the solutions you provide to your customers, you can ensure that you are reaching the right audience. Every searcher has a question that needs answered, a gap that needs filled, or a problem that needs solved, so try putting yourself in a potential customer’s shoes and imagine what you might type into the search bar. Targeting those search terms is a guaranteed way to position your website in front of the people who are most likely to convert.
Drive more high-quality leads
It makes sense that an increase in website traffic would lead to an increase in conversions, but SEO lead generation is about more than sheer volume. In fact, 60% of marketers have found that their highest-quality leads come from SEO.
Why is that?
When users find your website through organic search, they are looking for a solution to a particular problem. Appearing as a top result for their query indicates to potential customers that you can fulfill that need. Because searchers tend to perceive higher ranking results as more trustworthy, appearing as a top result also instills in buyers the confidence to do business with your company. In other words, SEO helps your website reach the right audience and entice them to learn more. Compared to visitors who have just stumbled upon your site, these users are more likely to bring valuable business to your brand.
Improve brand awareness
By using SEO to improve search engine rankings for your key landing pages, you are increasing your overall visibility and brand awareness. Even if searchers choose not to click through to your site, you have made an impression simply by appearing before them as an option. As your website continues to appear in related search results, these searchers will come to associate your brand with the solutions they are looking for.
This increased brand awareness can go a long way. While searchers may not always opt for your solution the first time around, your brand will be at the forefront of their mind the next time they have a similar query. In other words, investing in SEO for your small business means investing in becoming a thought leader in the eyes of your target market. Once you have established yourself as a trusted name in your industry, customers won’t just stumble upon your company — they’ll seek you out.
Remain competitive in the marketplace
The most successful businesses invest in SEO, so it’s important to keep pace if you want your company to thrive. Imagine two local bakeries going head to head and competing for customers. One of the bakeries has invested in an SEO strategy and the other has not. When cake cravers in the area search for a spot to get their sugar fix, the first bakery pops up right away. The second bakery is buried on page 10 of the results. Who do you think attracts more customers?
Of course, SEO is more than a digital marketing trend to follow if you want to stay afloat — it’s a 23-year-old tried-and-true tool you can use to help understand and bypass your competition. Use SEO to figure out what keywords and phrases your biggest competitors are targeting, then use those insights to optimize your own website and ensure you’re ranking right alongside them. Once you’ve determined which keywords you need to target to remain competitive, you can leverage SEO to showcase your unique selling points. Figure out what makes your company stand out and try to rank for related searches in order to appeal to audiences your competitors are missing out on.
How to get started with SEO
Investing in SEO doesn’t have to break the bank. Here’s how to get started with a DIY SEO strategy for your small business.
Develop an SEO strategy
An SEO strategy makes the most of your marketing efforts by ensuring the content you create is the content your target audience is searching for. Start by brainstorming a short list of topics or phrases associated with your company. These keywords or phrases will serve as the pillars of your SEO strategy and you can use them as a jumping off point for keyword research later on. For now, ensure that your pillars are broad and varied enough to encompass a range of future content and create more potential entry points for your customers.
Perform keyword research
Once you’ve established the core pillars that will guide your SEO efforts, it’s time to get strategic about which keywords you will target. What specific words or phrases are potential customers searching for? Do they ask certain questions or search more frequently at different times of the year? You can find those answers in keyword research. Exploring the keywords you think best describe your business is a great place to start, but if your audience is searching for something different, you could be losing out on potential customers. A keyword research tool can help you identify the specific keywords your target market is searching for so you can craft content that will catch their eye.
A mix of short-tail (general keywords like “tennis shoes”) and long-tail keywords (more specific keywords like “blue tennis shoes for sale in Little Rock”) will access audiences from both the top of the funnel and farther down. Remember to consider searcher intent, too. The keyword “office space” is a pretty general term and can return results for both the movie “Office Space” and companies renting office space. It serves your strategy best to consider how keywords can be interpreted and misunderstood to build the best list for your business.
Related article: Great Tools to Help With Your Keyword Research
Start optimizing on-page factors
Figuring out what your target audience is searching for is only the first step in implementing a DIY SEO strategy for your small business. Now that you have performed your keyword research, it’s time to apply that knowledge to your content. Begin by organizing your keywords by topic and intent and then map each one of those groups to a specific landing page for your website. Once you know which keywords each page will target, you can optimize your content for those keywords. Make sure your target keywords appear on their mapped pages and within other important ranking factors for search engines.
Prioritize technical SEO tasks
You’ve optimized your content for your target audience, but to make the most of your SEO efforts, you’ll want to ensure your website is readable by search engines too. Technical SEO is the process of making your website friendly to search engines’ crawlers, and it doesn’t require you to be a tech wizard. Basic tasks such as monitoring and disavowing undesirable backlinks, indicating canonical pages, or optimizing image file formats can be done by someone with even the most basic technical background. Technical SEO is necessary to keep your website running smoothly.
Related article: 10 Beginner SEO Tasks You Can Do This Afternoon
Need help getting started?
At Lightning Media Partners, we believe SEO should be easy. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to DIY SEO for your small business, we’re here to help.
Our affordable Content and SEO Audit package includes everything you need to get started with SEO. After we conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current content strategy and rankings, we’ll design a personalized content strategy for your business.
With a three-month content calendar, keyword seasonality calendar, and discount toward one of our blog packages, you’ll have everything you need to jumpstart your SEO campaign in one easy bundle. Contact us today to get started.
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