Small businesses experience an extraordinary amount of competition. Because the definition of a small business is so broad, a company employing anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 people could be considered “small” when also factoring in its annual receipt amounts. These numbers are all determined by the federal government. Small businesses make up 99% of United States businesses. All this competition means your company has to prove to potential customers that your products and services are worth considering in their searches online. That’s why Small Business SEO is so important.
Read more on how to get your small business started with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which can be both fruitful for your business and cost-effective!
Set Your Expectations
Expectations are the most important thing to nail down as you start a brand new SEO campaign. While SEO is a more cost-effective way to market your business, it’ll take more time and effort to see results than setting up a paid search campaign. The term ‘paid search’ is what it sounds like: paying for optimal ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). However, shelling out the amount of money necessary to rank isn’t an option for many companies that have small budgets to match their size.
Results vary by industry and the quality of your site, but in general, it could take anywhere from 6-12 months to see results after implementing an SEO strategy or campaign. Because of this long conversion time, many businesses think their hard work is going to waste, especially if their business occupies a highly competitive market and results take longer to materialize. This dissatisfaction can lead to tension between business owners and those working for them in their marketing department.
The amount of time and effort to run the necessary analytics and implement SEO can also exceed the time mentally allotted by business owners. Unspoken expectations can cause issues due to miscommunication, so it’s best to hold a meeting with everyone involved at the beginning of a campaign to lay out the goals and set realistic expectations.
Do Some Research
It’s common for many business owners to be in the dark on the basics of SEO, but you don’t have to be! There are countless resources available to learn about the benefits, importance, and current practices for optimizing your online presence. Many big names in the marketing space offer free courses and certifications for those who have more time to devote toward learning on their own; but if time is short, a few well-written blog articles can help you get started!
Here are a few areas to focus on as you begin your SEO journey:
- Google’s link ranking factors
- Research keywords for your industry to determine current market competition
- Learn how page speed affects bounce rates. You can have great content, but if your site is too slow, no one will stay long enough to read it!
There are multiple ways to use SEO for different aspects of marketing and content. Knowing the basic differences between all of these can help you have more productive conversations with individuals who write articles, maintain your website, and handle branding.
Get Your Budget in Order
If your business is newer or you’re getting ready to start a business, make sure to keep SEO on your radar. Small businesses oftentimes have a difficult time determining how much of their marketing budget they should allocate to SEO ventures. Due to this, small businesses have a track record of devoting very little or nothing at all to SEO. Why is this?
It could be outdated or lack of information on digital marketing, fear of the unknown, or perhaps business owners don’t realize how competitive their niche space is compared to a few years or even just a few months ago! It’s easy to be overwhelmed as a small business owner and let certain aspects of your business fall to the wayside as you focus on what you feel are more immediate needs. However, neglecting to address the difficult aspects of marketing or avoiding the unknown, can hurt your business in the long run.
Dedicate money to have a digital marketing role within your company. If your business needs guidance before hiring someone full-time, it may be worth bringing in a consultant or marketing agency that can run all the analytics and set up your SEO tools. Still don’t have the money to get the right person hired? Look into alternative funding options like a business line of credit that can supplement your budget to get your SEO campaigns up and running.
If you need to optimize your SEO locally, look for agencies who know your specific area well. They can give you customized assistance to help your site appear first on “near me” search results.
Find the Right Tools
Having the best tools in your lineup of SEO resources doesn’t have to be expensive. Many software companies with SEO products offer free tools or trials that can get you started. If your business is small enough, it may even meet all of your current needs. The tools you need will vary depending on what format and content your business regularly puts out, how visible your brand is, and the scale to which you want to grow. You’ll most likely need software to analyze the status of your site, along with your competitor’s sites and the keywords they use to earn their rank with Google.
Don’t forget to look for tools that help you craft outstanding content! Keywords will only get you so far if the quality and relevance of your pieces miss the mark in answering a potential customer’s questions.
Stay in the loop on current SEO practices with newsletter and journal subscriptions! The valuable information these resources provide can help you make adjustments in real-time to maximize results down the road.
SEO takes a lot of time and effort to implement and maintain – not to mention the longer window of time it takes to see results – but the outcomes are much more sustainable long-term and less volatile than the risks involved with other types of advertising and marketing. Don’t wait to start your next SEO campaign to set your small business up for years of success!