Starting an online business these days tends to be challenging. However, succeeding in the online market is even more challenging than people like to believe. The main reason is that the online market has become more competitive and saturated over the years.
Standing out and reaching your target audience in such an environment is increasingly difficult, especially for new businesses in the market. Fortunately, there’s always a way to overcome such challenges and come on top.
One of those ways is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This cost-effective marketing strategy’s purpose is to help businesses optimize their websites to be more search engine and user-friendly, among other things, of course.
SEO used to be an optional marketing strategy for those who wanted a more organic approach to improving website traffic, acquiring more qualified leads, boosting conversions and so on. Nowadays, SEO is basically mandatory, especially when considering how fierce the competition may be. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why your small business absolutely needs SEO.
1. SEO is the primary source of organic traffic
It’s very important for small businesses to get as much website traffic as they possibly can. The main reason is that the more traffic your website favors, the greater the likelihood of increased engagement or conversions.
However, simply having a lot of traffic isn’t always a recipe for success. What your small business really needs is organic traffic. This is where SEO comes into play.
By optimizing your website for search engines, your website is more likely to appear on the first page of search results for specific search queries.
Search engines like Google will match your website’s content with user intent, which means your website will be visited by more qualified leads. Qualified leads are consumers who are already interested in products or services you have to offer; they just haven’t found an ideal match yet.
Google, therefore, sends them your way and it’s up to you to convince them that your products or services are, indeed, ideal for them. That being said, search engines cannot place your website in front of consumers unless your website is well-optimized.
2. SEO generates a better user experience
A common misconception about SEO is that you’re optimizing your website for search engines only. This is not entirely true because, in the process of optimizing your website for search engines, you’re also optimizing your website for consumers as well.
Every ranking signal that search engines take into consideration is designed to provide consumers with the best user experience possible.
The search engine friendliness part is there to help search engines understand the context of your pages so that they can index and rank them properly. Everything else is meant to improve the user experience.
If you were to consult with a professional web design service, for example, they’ll tell you that website design is vital for user experience because that’s the first thing consumers see when they land on your pages.
However, they’ll also tell you that website functionality is equally important because consumers must have a seamless experience while browsing your website.
In other words, search engines like Google want to provide consumers with the best results for their search. That doesn’t just mean results with the right accuracy of information but also results that will provide the best experience.
Here are some of the factors that search engines consider when evaluating websites.
- Website speedPage loading time and overall website speed are very important to consumers and search engines alike. This is arguably one of the most important ranking signals when it comes to SEO. Online consumers simply don’t tolerate sluggish websites.That’s why search engines check your website speed before evaluating your rankings. You can have the best content there is, but if your website isn’t fast enough, it simply won’t rank high enough to reach your target audience.
- NavigationOnline consumers expect a seamless browsing experience. That’s why website navigation is such an important factor.Consumers expect to find what they want and get where they want to be in just a few clicks. Search engines check this factor thoroughly.If you have a lot of broken links, error pages, redirects and other inconveniences, your website won’t rank well.
- E.A.T. criteriaAside from various ranking factors that contribute to user experience, search engines also monitor the accuracy and relevance of information on your website. Your content and your website are evaluated based on the E.A.T. criteria.⦁ Expertise
⦁ TrustworthinessSearch engine algorithms are designed to check every detail about the website when determining its rankings. The more you leverage SEO and its best practices, the better the user experience will be and your website will rank higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
3. SEO builds visibility and brand awareness
Appearing on the first page of search results is the same as being personally recommended by a search engine like Google.
Very few consumers actually venture further than the first page of search results.
That’s why the goal of your SEO strategy is to appear on that very first page. With careful optimization and by following search engine recommendations, your website can, indeed, appear on that first page. This yields more benefits than simply generating more organic traffic.
You’re also improving online visibility, brand awareness, credibility, trust, authority and exposure. These are all the things your small business desperately needs so that it can outrun even some of the most established competitors in the market.
Furthermore, providing a seamless user experience through SEO is a perk in itself.
Consumers that are satisfied with their experience on your website and your products or services will recommend your business to their friends and family.
Word-of-mouth promotions carry a lot of weight in the online market and can be the competitive advantage you need to succeed.
4. SEO is cost-effective
It’s no secret that small businesses usually have a limited budget. You probably want to know that you’re investing in the right marketing strategy and that your resources aren’t going to waste. SEO is a very cost-effective marketing strategy.
No matter how much or how little you invest in it, you’ll always be able to see viable results. Moreover, SEO is quantifiable. You can measure the ROI of every SEO aspect, provided you use the right metric and analytics.
This allows you to manage your budget and your investment accordingly. However, SEO is, in fact, a long-term strategy. It takes time to produce viable results, unlike some more straightforward strategies, such as PPC (Pay-Per-Click).
Therefore, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results of your efforts straight away. If you have the patience for it, SEO will always turn to your advantage. Being a long-term strategy that it is, SEO can constantly be adjusted and improved.
That means that you can steer your efforts the way it suits you the most. For example, you may not need a lot of organic traffic all the time so you can adjust your strategy to help you achieve other business goals that take precedence at that moment.
5. SEO helps you conquer your local market
Local SEO allows small businesses to focus on their local or niche markets at any given time. As you may already know, it’s always better for small businesses to establish a strong foothold in their local markets before they consider expanding further.
That being said, you can optimize your digital presence for specific vicinity using local SEO. This is especially true when you consider the fact that mobile traffic is dominating the market and that local search is the main focal point of mobile traffic.
Therefore, optimizing for specific neighborhoods, towns, cities or even states allow your small business to seamlessly establish its brand presence on a local level. However, local SEO slightly differs from a regular SEO strategy and it requires a specific approach. Here are a few things you should do.
- Provide business information to Google My Business and other relevant directories.
- Try to get as many positive reviews as you can.
- Optimize your local citations and backlinks for regional listings.
- Expand your presence to social media networks.
- Add directions and Google maps to your contact information.
If you have difficulties operating in the online market, you can always choose to zoom in on a specific area and establish your presence there.
Local exposure is extremely important for small and medium-sized businesses, especially when they’re just starting to make a name for themselves.
SEO is a marketing strategy that keeps evolving year after year. Its relevance is also growing as time goes by, making it more and more important for companies of all sizes.
Without an SEO strategy, your small business is likely to encounter many more obstacles and challenges on its way to success. That’s one of the main reasons why every small company simply needs SEO and the advantages it can bring.