In the competitive online landscape, more and more businesses are seeking result driven SEO services in order to meet their targets. But what is SEO? And should you, as a small business owner, consider investing in it?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website visible to search engines. This is done by making improvements to both the quality of the website itself, as well as that of the user experience it provides. The better the visibility of your page on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the more likely it is to garner attention and attract business. Marketers make use of the webpage content, development, and design to inform the search engine (like Google, Bing, Yahoo) of what your website is about, how credible and relevant it is to possible search intents of users, and whether or not your website can actually address the pain points of these users.
Search engines use “spider” bots to crawl your web pages for relevant data. This means that if your pages are well optimized, relevant, and easy to use, then the website’s chances of receiving a high SERP ranking are good. Some characteristics of such well-made pages are:
- It has a well-written title
- The content is well-written, is broken up under subheadings, and has a proper flow
- The navigation is easy
- The website is optimized for mobile devices
- The web pages load fast
This, in turn, will lead to higher traffic influx and user engagement, and therefore more conversions.
While other marketing campaigns might require paid means, SEO techniques do not. All necessary SEO tools and strategies are already available to anyone who wants to use, free of cost. This is particularly helpful for new and small businesses, who aren’t expected to have the marketing budgets of big brand-name organizations. Here are some fields in which SEO will prove particularly beneficial for small businesses.
We live in a digital world today. Every decision we make is generally based on information that is just a click or a tap away. This presents a unique opportunity for owners of small businesses to compete against larger chains, as long as they remain adaptable to the changing digital and business landscapes.
In fact, small business websites can bring the revenues that websites of bigger chains usually attract. This is because they have in their arsenal the same SEO tools that big chains have, and thus the ability to boost their organic search rankings really high, even if only for a small area. A small seafood restaurant in Amsterdam may not be able to provide all the items that bigger restaurant chains can, but at least as far as “good seafood in Amsterdam” is concerned, Google will definitely consider recommending the small restaurant over any larger ones to users, provided the website is user-friendly and properly optimized.
Credibility and Brand Awareness
One of the benefits of having a high ranking website on Google is that it greatly builds your brand’s credibility, and more now than ever before. There are a few reasons for that.
Google continuously keeps updating its AI and search algorithms. It has become very good at identifying web pages with irrelevant, useless, or otherwise unnecessary content, and makes sure they don’t receive any decent rankings. Black hat SEO tactics such as stuffing your page with keywords or using paid backlinks are no longer going to help your website, since search engines have become wise enough to not only identify such tactics, but also severely penalize them.
And yet, since search engines will play such a major role in making or breaking your brand image, you will have to keep using them for marketing. This means that the content within the web pages need to be well-researched and insightful. It also means that in order to rank well, the pages need to make good use of SEO tactics such as:
- The website needs to be well-designed and fast-loading.
- It should focus on a specific topic, and use relevant keywords, and make use of internal links.
- Quality content needs to be generated consistently
- There needs to be attractive page titles, headlines, and optimized images.
- The meta-descriptions for the pages need to be information-packed (but keyword stuffing needs to be avoided, since search engines frown upon that)
- The URLs are descriptive without being too long
This means that small businesses can benefit from SEO services since they can focus their website development around specific key terms relating to their specific business, and let search engines rank them. This will lead potential customers to trust your brand, eventually increasing your business credibility and even authority.
Organic Traffic and Potential Reach
As mentioned earlier, if yours is a small business, then it’s unlikely you have a huge marketing budget to spare, and might be hesitant to invest in paid marketing through search engines and their paid networks, as well as social media platforms. If such is the case, here is an interesting statistic. SEO strategies have been proven to drive over 1000% more traffic to websites as compared to organic social media posts (BrightEdge Research). Of course, paid advertisement campaigns are proven to have a high success rate. Yet, it is organic search that leads to about 53% of all web traffic (BrightEdge Research).
SEO is perhaps the most affordable and efficient market strategy available today. Additionally, it only brings in customers that are actively looking for your services and products. An increase in organic reach essentially means that your website is showing up to prospective clients and customers that it didn’t before. If more people start to organically reach and interact with your website, search engines will recognise your website as credible.
Since you now have a level playing field with bigger business, at least as far as SEO is concerned, this traffic can potentially come from anywhere in the world if you so wish. Local SEO strategies are assuredly effective when it comes to bringing about brand recognition in a certain locality, or even to get customers to visit your storefront. But if your services aren’t limited by geography, then there’s no reason why your business wouldn’t start acquiring a global clientele after implementing proper SEO strategies.
The common conception around SEO is that it’s simply related to optimization for search engines. However, today SEO also involves providing a well-tailored user experience as well. In fact, such techniques always work in tandem with each other. Quality content, easy-to-use navigation, an interactive interface, optimized load speeds, and mobile-responsiveness, all come together to create a better user experience. This also means that doing some and not the others is going to essentially bring your business no real benefits, especially if yours is a small business. There are a few reasons for that.
Search engines have become smart enough to figure out whether your website provides a high quality user experience or not. It counts metrics like high bounce rates (meaning visits to the website that last only through a single page) and poor loading speeds to make these calculations. If the search engines decide that the user experience of your site is poor, it will give you low rankings, which can hamper your traffic flow, conversion rate, and overall business.
Mobile page optimization has recently become even more important, since about 52.2% of all web traffic arises from mobile devices like smartphones (Statista). This means that over half the internet users of the world access it through phones and not computers. This fact is all the more important for new and small businesses that may not have a high brand awareness or credibility yet. If you neglect to optimize your website for mobile devices, with inconsistencies such as underwhelming designs, poor loading speeds, and difficult navigation, you are essentially alienating yourself from over half of your potential customer base. In the process, you are also destroying your SERP rankings.
SEO may have become a big business buzzword of late, but it’s as important and useful to small businesses as it is to the established ones. And with a well planned and well-implemented strategy provided by any reputable SEO service hired by you, there are no limits as to how far your business can grow.