Small Business & SEO: Is it right for you?

SEO for Small Businesses

For small businesses and start-ups, there's often a million and one questions to consider to help get the business lifted up off the ground. At the forefront of those questions is how to meet the immediate need to generate sales and start creating revenue from the outset to avoid going bust. Marketing any business is difficult, let alone a brand new company without any audience to market to. SEO, with it's muddled reputation, often seems an unrealistic channel to succeed in for many. However, when executed successfully there really is no rival to strong organic listings in search engines. Yes, it's very difficult to achieve results and yes, it is a long term goal rather than short, but sticking with SEO can be incredibly fruitful for those who succeed.

Starting from the top: What is SEO?

Not an easy question to answer. SEO (search engine optimisation) is made up of a myriad of different factors, but ultimately it's about meeting users in search engines like Google when they're searching for your product. If you're a hairdressers in Axminster, when a user searchers 'hairdressers in axminster near me', it's pretty clear why it's important that your business shows at the top of Google if you're to get that referral. SEO is a layered discipline. There's no one secret to getting to the top of Google, and if anyone tells you there is - you can immediately dismiss their services.

Is it just loading your website with the right keywords? Or getting lots of other websites to link to you? Or is it about creating a well-optimised site with a good user experience? Mobile optimisation? Keyword research and landing pages? Ultimately it's all of these things. Google don't reveal what the secret formula is to reach the top of results, but SEO professionals like us have spent years researching, networking and joining together what Google tell us to understand what it is that makes a site rank better. 

Small businesses need to consider carefully how to prioritise their resources to get the most out of SEO. Initially, we always look to place an emphasis on the following for small business SEO:

  • A solid, logical website design with a clear user experience
  • A seamless desktop to mobile experience
  • On-page optimisation - ensuring the relevant pages meet the users needs and have the right keywords, page titles and meta-data
  • Local SEO - local SEO best practices to help the business get found within their target region 

Do you need SEO for your small business? 

Reaching the top of Google for relevant keywords in your industry is a fantastic goal to strive for, and with the right planning and effort is achievable for many small businesses. However, it's not always the right approach for every business. Here are some areas we think are vital to consider before diving in to the world of SEO;

Budget

SEO is a competitive landscape. Whatever your industry, you're almost certain to be competing against other businesses for the top spots for any given search terms. Depending on the size of those businesses, they may have a budget that far exceeds yours. Work out how much you can realistically commit to an SEO strategy, and compare that to other marketing channels to see what will give you the biggest chance of getting traffic to your site.

Competition

Similar to budget, there are always going to be competitors standing in your way. Consider who your local and national competitors are to see what you're up against. The more established a company is, the harder it will likely be to knock them off their perch for the most competitive keywords. That doesn't mean to say it's impossible to rank well, but you'll need to think strategically about the opportunities available.

Time

It can take weeks, months and years to rank well in SEO. If you're looking to get to the top of organic search results immediately once you've launched a new website, SEO probably isn't for you! It's a long term goal that needs consistent effort and management. Don't forget, Google are looking to show the most relevant search result possible for searchers - they want to see that your website is the right one over a period of time.

Do your research - and don't be afraid to ask!

Hopefully that's given you a basic overview on where to start with small business SEO. If you want to find out more, the team over at Search Engine Land have some fantastic resources that are well worth reading. The key message is to not be overwhelmed by SEO, but to do some research and consider whether it's right for your business. And if you're not sure or want some advice - just ask! 

Posted by Rob Fellingham on October 9th 2017

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