In this day and age where things are going digital at an incredible pace, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) hardly needs an introduction. Unlike a decade ago, businesses of today know well how crucial it is for them to stay on top of online search rankings. This holds true for businesses of all sorts and sizes alike, but for small businesses in particular, presence on top SERPs can mean the difference between competitiveness and total irrelevance.
It’s no wonder why SEO has turned into a major global industry and elbowed its way into the tightest of ad spends globally. While companies of the world continue to slash their ad spend allocated for conventional marketing, SEO spend is seeing a sharp increase owing to its high ROI. Since visibility is key to online success, new marketing strategies now focus on measurable results with SEO efforts being a key constituent.
It only makes sense for businesses to be visible to a customer who is looking for a product or service like theirs. Imagine a situation where a really good pizzeria right in your neighborhood doesn’t show up in search results when you’re looking up a good pizza place nearby; no matter how incredible your pizza is, you marketing has failed you big time. And for a small, budding business, this can very well mean the beginning of a sad, undeserved end.
What is a Small Business?
Before we take a deep dive into what SEO for small businesses is, let us first explore what a small business itself is. In essence, any privately-owned small-scale business can be called a small business. Compared to a corporation or regular-sized business, it is a privately owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship with fewer workforce and lesser annual revenue.
While in technical terms even a business with employees in hundreds can be considered a small one depending on the industry it belongs to, a small business can also have employees in tens or even less. It can be anything ranging from a restaurant, a laundry, to a retail store, a toy shop, or a home-based bakery. Moreover, these businesses can be physical stores, ecommerce stores, or a hybrid of both.
As the business is small, the workforce is lean so each employee shares a larger amount of work than they would in a bigger business. The owners of a small business are probably the busiest of all – if it’s a restaurant that they own, they must be able (and mentally prepared) to manage the cash register, track inventory, serve the tables, listen to the customers, do the cleaning, and even serve as a replacement chef.
With so many responsibilities at hand, it’s easy (and common) for a small business owner to overlook an equally important job: marketing. Entrepreneurs who invest as much time and resources in building marketing strategies as they do in managing the business are the ones who win the game. They don’t necessarily have the best pizza in the neighborhood, but their marketing game is strong and they how, when, and to whom to sell it.
What is SEO for Small Businesses?
That brings us to our key subject, i.e. SEO for small businesses. As discussed above, SEO can work wonders for a small-scale business which essentially can’t afford to go big on conventional marketing like large corporations. Corresponding to their leaner business structures are their thin revenues and the ad spend, therefore, is much smaller too. So, there can’t be any leakages or a negative ROI, which usually happens in conventional marketing methods. For them, online marketing appears to be the right solution, a smart and affordable strategy of which SEO has lately become a mainstay.
Of late, SEO has become a must-have for small businesses as smartphone and mobile data penetration continue to rise globally. People love and trust Google, and head to it to look for virtually everything. Especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic where social distancing is the order of the day, small-scale businesses have sprouted in millions globally. A large majority of them are some form of delivery service helping people have their needs met while staying indoors.
But not all of these ventures will survive. And for the ones that do, the success will majorly be credited to their online presence and visibility. If you’re a seasoned wedding photographer and you don’t appear in search rankings when someone in the town or neighborhood looks for your service, you will soon be taken over by a competitor who may not be as good a photographer as you are. That’s the reason it’s crucial for you to invest in SEO for your small business.
How does SEO work for Small Business?
By now, you must have gotten a clear idea of what small business SEO is. How it works for them is simple: SEO gives smaller businesses the competitive edge they need to stay afloat and productive in today’s tough business climate. By enhancing their visibility against relevant online searches, they become closer to their target audience. This traffic then turns into potential leads that bring in what both the business owner and the search engine optimizer are targeting for: conversions.
But, SEO is a long-term strategy that demands patience and above all, the right strategy. Once your search rankings improve, it’s not that hard to keep you in the top SERPs. However, it’s continuous work and you will need a dedicated SEO professional to ensure your rankings don’t slide, and that you’re not outranked by competition. For those who want instant visibility, paid ads on search engines or social media can be a solution; but the downside is they drive up costs for every click and require constant vigilance.
What are the key benefits of SEO for Small Businesses?
A seasoned SEO professional will help a small business boost its brand awareness by way of a number of techniques that also involve creation of fast, robust, and user-friendly websites. This helps brands get more traction and drive higher conversions. Hence, a small business or brand must team up with SEO professionals to build a strong web presence and bypass its competition.
Here are some of the key benefits of SEO for small businesses:
User-friendly websites: SEO helps small business owners build websites that are user-friendly and deliver a smoother user experience. Yes, today’s SEO is more about customer utility than it is about search engine friendliness!
Higher traffic: A better website or digital channel translates into more people visiting your website, or coming face to face with your brand. How well your website retains these potential leads on your business depends on the usability of your website.
Greater conversions: More traffic should mean more business – if your website is attracting customers, it must also cause the conversions to inflate. The more people visiting your business online, the higher should be the conversion rate.
Improved brand awareness: Brand awareness is a valuable by-product of your SEO game. Sometimes, it’s not just about leads and conversions but equally about creating brand awareness among your target audience. And SEO does it pretty well.
Enhanced competitiveness: A good SEO strategy not only helps you get more business, but also keeps you ahead of the competition. This is crucial especially in today’s tough business climate where all businesses are investing heavily to win a competitive edge.
What is Local SEO and why is it important for Small Businesses?
According to Moz, local SEO is a process for increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face. These can be brick-and-mortar businesses with a physical location or service-area businesses that operate throughout a certain geographic area.
To understand this, simply look at your own search habits. When your car breaks down in the middle of the road, the first thing you do will be to search for car repair shops or mechanics ‘near you’. Similarly, you’d search for ‘dentist near me’ when you have a dental emergency. The results that the search engine produces for your ‘local’ query are the result of the SEO technique known as ‘local SEO’.
Another example of local search queries can be ‘Small business SEO services in Mississauga’. The use of local keyword phrases in the search query provides results that are relevant to the searcher based on their current location. And did we tell you that 46% of searches on Google are of a local nature? If you already have an organic SEO strategy in place, chances are you’re employing a local SEO plan without realizing it.
For small businesses, local SEO is especially vital because it drives the local traffic that has the highest probability of becoming a conversion. If someone is looking for something near them, they seriously want it. And if you can be there when they need you most, it’s an absolute win-win.
What are the key benefits of Local SEO?
Local Search Engine Optimization tends to drive to your business the most important type of traffic there is: local traffic, or people who are urgently looking for a product or service like yours. If you employ the Local SEO smartly in your broader SEO strategy, the results could be amazing. Here are some of the key benefits of Local SEO:
- Strong web presence
- Niche market leadership
- Improved search rankings
- Higher traffic
- Better conversions
- Improved brand awareness
- Enhanced community outreach
- Rise in revenues
How much should a Small Business spend on SEO?
The right SEO spend will help you watch your small business flourish without draining your profits. But just how much is the right amount to be spent on small business SEO? Well, it depends on various factors including whether or not you have a website, how user-friendly it is, and what additional services – such as web design, copywriting, data analysis and more – you need to meet your SEO goals faster and in a more efficient manner.
According to a 2019 survey, American small businesses spent an average of $500 per month on SEO services. Many small businesses prefer monthly SEO retainers over one-time projects or hourly-charged SEO services. There are many SEO agencies that can provide you one-stop-shop SEO services but their costs would vary depending on factors like their experience, services portfolio, and scale of operations, etc.
How to choose a Small Business SEO service provider?
Your search for a suitable small business SEO provider must begin with understanding your own business and your marketing goals. No marketing strategy will work unless you’re clear about what you want the marketing efforts to accomplish. Once you know it, you’re ready to explore options with regards to small business SEO providers, which are plentiful.
It’s better to get your site and SEO goals assessed by a few SEO professionals before signing a contract. Ask around, and do research of your own to make an informed decision to be sure that your hard-earned ad spend will be going into the right hands and producing the desired results. Depending on the services and SEO efforts your project will be needing, you should be able to get a quote that’s agreeable to your budget.