However, SEO can help a small business in ways that no other marketing strategy can.
SEO for Small Business: a Competitive Edge
What is so cool about SEO for small business is that it is relatively cheap to implement and provides some of the best returns on investment of all the marketing strategies. Further, it’s not a one-time deal (like paid advertising). Rather, an investment in SEO keeps on giving.
Let’s say you’re competing with a larger company who appears to have unlimited amounts of advertising dollars. You have a very limited marketing budget and must spend your money wisely. If you invest your money in optimizing your website for specific keywords (and your competitor is not using SEO), you are likely eventually to outrank your competitor for the given keywords.
On the other hand, if you spend your online advertising dollars only on paid advertising (like Google AdWords), that money is gone by the time your campaign is done. And if your competitor is also using Google AdWords and can throw lots of money at it, you won’t get the top spot anyway.
SEO can provide your small business with a competitive marketing edge that is unprecedented. Take advantage of it!
SEO for Small Business: Local Search Marketing
If your business is local in nature (e.g. restaurant, fashion retailer, salon, accountant, attorney, etc), local search marketing helps your business become visible in the search engines. Consider this statistic from Google:
97% of consumers search online for local products and services.
Astonishing, isn’t it? Yet, 63% of small businesses do not have a web presence. What’s more, many small businesses have not optimized for local searches.
The local online playing field is more leveled than ever. If you take some simple steps like claiming (and enhancing) your Google Place and make sure your business is listed in the appropriate online directories, you can beat out the competition in local searches.
SEO for Small Businesses: Getting Your Social On
Social media signals (how many likes, tweets, +1s, etc your webpages receive) are becoming increasingly important for SEO. In SEOmoz’s latest search engine ranking factors report, social signals were two of the top three ranking factors with the most increase in importance. Social signals are a major part of the SEO future (and present!).
How can small businesses benefit from social media:
- Encourage Loyalty: Small businesses tend to have a small, but loyal (potentially fanatic) group of VIP customers. Social media is a great way to connect with your VIPs and provide special offers, etc.
- Social Sharing: Adding the social buttons to your website is easy and free. When your visitors see something they like, they will share it with their networks. Now you have free advertising & potentially better rankings in search engines!
- Facebook Events: Facebook provides a feature called “Events” which allows you to advertise your events for free to your followers. (I find out about most of the goings on in my town through Facebook!)
- Flexible Time Commitment: With social media, you can do as much or as little as you have time for. The important thing is that you are present and provide value to your followers. This doesn’t mean that you have to post something every day.
- Targeted Advertising: Gone are the days where the only way to get the word out to the masses was TV/radio ads. With affordable Facebook ads or sponsored tweets (Twitter), you can target your audience like never before. And you pay only when somebody clicks on your ad.
SEO for Small Business: Eight Simple Steps
SEO for small business is truly a match made in heaven. Small business owners can benefit from implementing a simple SEO strategy, which includes the following steps (assuming business has a website):
- Hire a reputable SEO company to review your website for potential SEO issues and provide recommended fixes. This is called an SEO Audit. For a small website, expect to spend between $500 and $2,500. It is well worth it. (There are some free audits available as well, if you want to start with the basics.)
- Make the recommended updates to your website. Most of these are very simple fixes.
- Find ways go generate new, compelling content on your website on a regular basis (at least once per week) and target appropriate keywords.
- List your business in the major search engines (Google Places, Bing Business Portal).
- List your business in the major online directories (e.g. Yelp, Insider Pages, Yellow Pages).
- Create a social media strategy to determine how to match social media with your business goals.
- Add share buttons to your web pages. (Companies like AddThis can help with this.)
- Create a presence on the appropriate social media sites (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn) and start connecting with customers and prospects.