When considering the question, "Is SEO good for small businesses?" the short answer is, "Absolutely"! SEO can provide many benefits to the small business owner, from increased traffic to their small business website to strengthening their brand recognition and allowing them to compete against other small businesses and large corporate brands on a more even playing field.
This article will take a deep dive into the various merits of SEO and the tools you will need to make SEO work for your small business. But, first, let's take a look at what SEO is and how it works.
What Is SEO?
Put simply, Search Engine Optimization or SEO refers to the process of optimizing the design, content, and function of your small business website in a way that increases the odds that your content and, therefore, your small business will be found and collected by the web crawler algorithms used by the major search engines to provide high quality and relevant search results to their users. As search engines strive to provide the most comparable, accurate, and informative results to their users, their algorithm to find this data must continuously evolve.
In the early days of SEO, a small business that wished to rank on the first page of search results would simply need to stuff their website full of the most likely keywords that people might use when searching for their product or service. Unfortunately, this practice of keyword stuffing did not always lead to high-quality search results and created a frustrating experience for consumers searching for the most relevant and helpful information. To solve this problem, search engine algorithms have evolved to look for a complex and ever-shifting combination of factors that they use to determine which websites are most likely to satisfy the user's needs conducting the search.
Today's sophisticated search engine ranking algorithms take into account not just the search terms or keywords the user has entered but their most likely intent. The algorithm then seeks out sites containing specific search terms within the context of high-quality, informative content that satisfies the user's intent when searching for the particular terms.
Additionally, the algorithms gauge the overall quality and authority of the website, providing the information by considering the design, user interface, and functionality of the website. The algorithm will also consider the number of other websites that link to the content contained on the website in question when determining the reliability and authority of the content contained on the original site.
What Can SEO Do For Your Small Business?
Now that you have a better understanding of what SEO does and how search engines use algorithms to locate and rank the information they present to their users, let's take a closer look at the specific ways that SEO can help grow your small business.
Draw Potential Customers To Your Small Business
The original goal and top priority of SEO are to help draw potential customers to your small business by ensuring that your small business website is presented to a wide array of internet users who may be interested in or require your product or service.
It is one thing to understand the core purpose of SEO; it is another matter entirely to determine who your customers are, what information they are seeking, the terms and phrases that they are most likely to use when seeking that information, AND how your website can convince the search engine algorithm that it is the most relevant, informative, reliable, and valuable resource to present to those particular web searchers.
Though it can seem overwhelming when looked at as a whole, we can simplify it a bit by looking at each of the individual areas separately.
Identify Your Target Audience
The first step in any effective SEO plan needs to narrow down and identify your target audience. Think about who it is that is most likely to have a need for your product or service.
Do you sell a business tool or service that is most likely to fulfill a need for other business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, or other professionals?
Do you have a home improvement product, tool, or service that is most likely to be used by homeowners, landlords, business owners, or those in the construction or handyman trades?
Do you sell a luxury product or experience that is most likely to appeal to consumers with a large amount of disposable income?
Do you have a trendy, fun, entertainment-related product or service that is most likely to appeal to young adults, teens, or children and their parents?
Do you sell an outdoor adventure or sports-related product that may appeal to hikers, cyclists, runners, fitness enthusiasts, or sports fans?
When answering these questions, remember to consider secondary groups who may be interested in purchasing your product or service for others in their lives. For instance, if you sell a children's product or service, your target audience would include the child who would be most likely to use your product or service, as well as the child's parents, grandparents, or other significant adults who would be most likely to purchase the product or service for the child.
Once you have determined your primary target audience and identified any secondary target audiences, you will need to figure out the best way to speak to each of these groups. The idea here is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What would you want to know about your product or service? What sort of information might you search for? What words or phrases would you use to find the information that you seek.
Once you feel like you have a solid understanding of your target audience, what sort of information they are seeking, and how they are most likely to find that information, you are ready to start building that information into your small business website.
Determine Your Keywords
Keywords are the terms or phrases that your target audience is most likely to type into the search box when they are seeking information on a subject related to your product or service.
When determining the keywords and search phrases, you will need to consider the amount of competition that will also be using the exact keywords and phrases. As a general rule, the more common or popular a particular keyword or phrase, the harder it will be to rank on the first page of search results for that specific term or phrase. On the flip side, you do not want to choose keywords or phrases that are so specific or obscure that few people would be likely to enter them into a search box when seeking information related to your product or service.
With your list of keywords and phrases in hand, it is time to discuss how to use those keywords in a way that will make your small business website attractive to the search engine algorithms.
Create Or Curate High-Quality Content
Thanks to the early frustrations caused by keyword stuffing and other low quality, questionable SEO practices, search engine algorithms are now designed to look for not only the search term itself but the context in which the keyword or phrase is used, as well as the broader scope of the information contained on the website.
This means that it takes more than simply peppering your chosen keywords and phrases throughout your website. Instead, you will need to fill your website with high-quality content that provides highly relevant, current, valid, authoritative, and reliable information regarding the particular subject or need that your chosen keywords relate to.
You will then need to work your selected keywords, terms, and phrases into the content in a way that flows naturally and is easy to read and understand.
It is important to remember that today's search engine algorithms are not simply looking for the words or phrases that the user entered into the search box and return results that contain those specific terms. Instead, the algorithms are designed to consider the user's most likely intent when entering the particular search term or phrase as well. The algorithm will then use this analysis to return results that contain the keywords and are most likely to provide the information that the searcher was most likely to be looking for.
This means that your website should be filled with keyword-rich content which includes specific details identifying your particular product or service AND clearly identifies how it can help to meet the particular need of the user. Your website should also have plenty of valuable and practical information related to the broader market or topic that your product or service relates to.
Build Your Authority
Modern search engine algorithms also take into consideration outside or offsite data gathered from third-party sources, which help them to determine a particular source's level of credibility and authority regarding a specific topic.
A successful SEO plan will need to make use of other websites and informational sources to help build the overall authority profile of your small business website. This is most often accomplished by the creation of blogs, educational sites, or social media accounts that contain links built into the content that directs the user back to the original website for more information.
If you would rather avoid the extra expense and effort of creating a number of other websites, you can achieve the same result by partnering with the creators or owners of blogs, educational websites, or social media accounts that contain information that is highly relevant to your product or service, and simply asking them to include links directing users to your business website to learn more about your product or service.
Both of these techniques can be used to help your small business or brand stand out as an authority in your particular subject area.
Build Brand Recognition
When done well, the same SEO techniques that help convince the search engine algorithms that your small business website is the most informative and valuable resource to meet the user's needs can also help to persuade consumers that your small business has what they need.
The more that your business or brand is shown to consumers, be it through a third-party link or a search engine results page, the more that consumers become familiar with your brand. As you build brand recognition, you increase the likelihood that consumers who were exposed to your business or brand today will think of your business or brand first when they, or someone they know, have a need for your product or service at some point further down the road.
Give Your Small Business A Competitive Edge
Paying close attention to your small business SEO practices can go a long way towards leveling the playing field when it comes to competing with large corporate businesses that market and sell a product or service similar to the product or service sold by your company.
Large corporations have unlimited budgets to spend on branding, advertising, and glossy top-of-the-line websites. However, search engine algorithms, and their users, are looking for the quickest and most effective resource to meet their particular needs or solve their immediate problems. Suppose your small business website can provide the most relevant information, the most valuable tools, and the most effective solution to their problem or need. In that case, your website can easily compete with the big glossy websites and flashy advertising campaigns of the big corporate giants.
Consumers are looking for substance. Suppose your website can provide precisely what they need in an easy to navigate and straightforward way. In that case, your small business has a clear pathway to becoming the top resource for your particular product or service.
Provide A Quality User Experience
While SEO techniques focus primarily on choosing the most relevant search terms and creating informative website content that blends those search terms and phrases into the subject matter in the most effective manner, other factors can make or break a website's search engine ranking potential.
It is helpful to think of search engine algorithms as consumer behavior experts. So much research goes into the development of these highly sophisticated web crawling tools. Search engine algorithms know that consumers are seeking not just the most relevant and helpful information to meet their particular needs. Still, they are also looking for the best overall user experience.
To meet this need, search engine algorithms are designed to consider several essential factors that have a significant impact on the user experience when determining which websites are the best resource to meet a specific need.
Ease Of Navigation
When determining the quality of a website, search engine algorithms will consider how easy it is for users to find the information they need. A solid SEO plan will consider the need for clear and straightforward navigation and optimize the website design to ensure that consumers can easily find exactly what they need in as few clicks as possible.
Search engine algorithms will also consider the general functionality of your small business website. For example, websites that provide a one-stop-shop experience where consumers can find information about a product or service, AND purchase or schedule the needed product or service without needing to visit another location offer a greater degree of practical function and are more likely to be seen as providing a more excellent value to the search engine user.
Mobile-Friendly Web Design
Consumers are now more likely to conduct product research and make purchases from a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices than from a desktop PC or laptop. With this in mind, your SEO plan must take into account how well your website will perform for both the search engine algorithm and the web user when accessed from a variety of different devices.
Search engine algorithms prioritize sites that will provide a high-quality user experience regardless of the device the user is accessing the site from.
Finally, with cyber threats at an all-time high and cybersecurity at the forefront of everyone's mind, search engine algorithms will be more apt to promote websites with a solid security infrastructure in place.
Remember, the overarching goal of the search engine algorithm is to provide the best possible web user experience. Therefore, this should also be the overriding goal of your small business's digital marketing, web design, and SEO practices.
Choosing A Small Business Services Provider
Developing and implementing SEO best practices is just one of many tasks to accomplish when launching a successful small business website. That is why every small business budget plan should include the cost of an experienced and professional digital marketing agency that provides SEO services for small business owners.
Contact Us Today!
Suppose you would like to learn more about how SEO can help you grow your small business, contact Dexterous Media Group today. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to learn more about your small business goals and show you how our suite of small business services can help meet all of your small business needs. We can't wait to meet you!