If you run a small business, attracting leads and generating organic traffic might be your biggest challenges. While many factors can be the reason, not focusing on SEO tops the list. To your surprise, that’s actually the case with 61% of businesses at the moment!
SEO stands for search engine optimization — strategies that make your website understandable and easily crawlable for search engine bots. This way, your website ranks higher on the search engine result pages (SERPs) and reaches a wider audience.
With 68% of internet users using search engines for online interactions, this is an excellent opportunity for you to profit from SEO.
Let’s get into more details to find “Is SEO worth it for small businesses or a waste of time and money?” We will also discuss some ways you can benefit from SEO strategies.
What is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing online content to enhance its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages. The goal is to increase organic traffic to your website by making it more accessible and appealing to search engines.
SEO is about generating organic traffic unlike Google’s PPC (pay-per-click) ads.
With effective SEO strategies, businesses can improve their website’s ranking on the SERPs, increase traffic, generate more leads, and eventually boost their sales.
Is SEO important for small businesses?
SEO is important for all types of businesses as generating leads is critical to strive and thrive in the market. If you’re offering highly demanded products and services with a well-designed website, SEO can help you attract leads and increase sales.
To develop an effective SEO campaign, you must consider many factors, such as finding the right target audience, competitor search, creating content, and more. SEO also works greatly with other channels, including social media, email, and content marketing strategies. In fact, a study found that SEO can help businesses drive 1,000% more traffic than social media.
The benefits of SEO for small businesses
The shortest answer to “Is SEO worth it for small businesses?” is YES, if you know the right areas to invest in. When implemented correctly, SEO can provide you with a wide range of benefits, including:
1. Attracts prospects to expand the customer base
The primary benefit of SEO for small businesses is attracting new leads, particularly those already interested in your offerings.
Understand it by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Suppose you need a pair of shoes for Christmas. You will go to the search engine, type the query, and wait for the results. Instead of checking every website, you will simply click on the top three results to see if they offer what you need. That’s how it goes, right?
That’s what a search engine does. It directs the customers searching for similar products and services, or even information to your website. Once these prospects reach your site, you must provide them with what they need to keep them engaged and prevent them from bouncing to your competitors.
This way, SEO helps you attract many new customers who may be unfamiliar with your brand but interested in your offerings.
2. Establishes authority, reputation, and visibility
Most small businesses struggle to establish market reputation and authority in the early days. If you’re facing the same situation, SEO can greatly help you in this regard.
With effective SEO strategies, you can make your mark in the customers’ minds by addressing their issues and telling them how your offerings can resolve them.
For example, suppose you are a gym aficionado and are considering building a home gym. You search for the right equipment, gear, and methods to help you achieve your workout goals at home.
Initially, you’re not looking to buy anything; you’re just gathering information for cost estimation. But you see the same gym equipment provider brand showing up whenever you’re scrolling your social media feed or using the search engine.
Now, when you finally make up your mind about the purchase, which brand will pop up in your mind instantly? The one that’s been educating you with quality information all this time, right?
That’s the power of SEO.
If you keep posting regular and valuable content for your target audience, you can quickly get into the customers’ minds and influence their purchase decisions. This is the best way to nurture leads and convert them into sales.
3. Gives long-term profits
Typical marketing or advertising campaigns work or pose an impact for a set time limit. Take the example of television ads.
These ads typically run for several weeks or months, making their impact on the viewers. However, after some time, they no longer make a similar impact and benefit the business.
SEO doesn’t work like this. With SEO, you regularly post content with the latest and most updated information, and you always stay fresh and impactful in the minds of prospective customers.
Writing helpful content to rank higher on the SERPs is only a fraction of the cost of designing, shooting, and streaming an ad, and more long-lasting.
4. Yields better ROI than traditional methods
SEO can also help your small business yield a better return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing efforts. This can even happen in the first few months if you do it right.
It’s estimated that SEO marketing can yield an ROI ratio of 22:1 on average, totaling 2,200%. Simply put, you can expect a return of around $22 for every dollar you invest in developing and implementing SEO strategies.
Comparatively, traditional PPC advertising has an average ROI of 2:1, meaning you’ll only get $2 for every dollar you spend. This shows us that SEO is winning and can help you earn many dollars.
5. Works great with PPC advertising
Although traditional, PPC advertising is an effective old-school technique to see which one of your content pages provides you with the best ROI. This helps you identify your strongest pages and the best keywords to target.
On the other hand, SEO is a cost-effective yet robust marketing strategy that gives substantial ROI. It works amazingly with different marketing strategies, such as social media marketing and PPC advertising.
By combining effective SEO with PPC advertising, you can easily develop a strong marketing strategy that pays off quite well and early. Over time, your website will keep ranking higher on the SERPs with minimal effort and resources.
What you should know about growing your business with SEO
Before you get all excited about using SEO to scale up your business, you should learn about a few things to make the most of this strategy. Here are some of them:
1. SEO is not all about keywords
While keywords are an essential part of SEO, there are many other tactics that improve a website’s visibility and ranking on SERPs. These include creating quality content, offering the best user experience (UX), incorporating relevant backlinks, and using effective local SEO and social media integrations.
2. It is a long-term game
SEO is a long journey that shows you a curve over many months or even a year. It takes a little while to get there. Typically, you should be patient for at least six months if you’re trying to rank your new website.
As your website gets older, your SEO strategies will keep building upon themselves, eventually supporting your future efforts. Rather than six months, you may start seeing the results in fewer months.
Remember, the more resources and efforts you put into your SEO strategies, the stronger your website will be and the more challenging it will be for your competitors to beat you.
3. SEO is ever-changing
The SEO industry experiences continuous updates based on search engine algorithms, technological advancements, and user behavior trends. Google regularly updates its algorithms to combat AI-generated or low-quality content and enhance UX.
For instance, it recently launched an experimental search experience called SGE (Search Generative Experience), which leverages Gen AI to give users instant overviews of search topics. It doesn’t require them to click on each webpage one by one. These updates can significantly impact website rankings, search visibility, and SEO strategies.
4. Mobile visibility is crucial
Mobile visibility often goes unnoticed, but it is fundamental to SEO success. As more users continue to use mobile devices for internet browsing, search engines are giving more importance to mobile-friendly websites.
In fact, Google uses mobile-first indexing, meaning it prioritizes a website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking in search results. So, focus on this aspect, too.
5. Listen to the experts; professional help is recommended
If you own a small business, you shouldn’t start with SEO without seeking guidance from SEO experts or professionals. Remember, SEO is a dynamic and vast field requiring a deep understanding of various strategies and algorithms for good website ranking and visibility.
SEO professionals will help you develop tailored strategies based on your business needs and goals. They are also proficient in technical aspects of SEO, like website structure, coding, and performance optimization. No matter what issue you face, you can get it solved instantly!
6. SEO is dependent on content
We can’t emphasize this enough—content is the most critical aspect of SEO. Google only appreciates high-quality and consistent content with authentic backlinks. Make sure you’re creating engaging and informative content relevant to your industry, which resonates with the viewers and satisfies the search engine bots.
The best SEO strategies for small businesses
As a small business owner, you can use the following tips to leverage SEO in the best way.
1. Look beyond Google
Of course, the primary use of SEO is to rank higher on search engines or Google. But that’s not the end. Unlike typical business owners, you should look beyond Google and target other platforms like Amazon, Yelp, or YouTube, which have a different set of SEO requirements.
Develop a comprehensive set of SEO strategies and begin your journey from there.
2. Keep your customers first and search engines second
Execution is where many small business owners make mistakes with SEO. Yes, SEO makes your web pages and content understandable for search engine bots. But it’s only possible if your content resonates with the human readers and provides them value.
So, the rule is simple: prioritize humans over search engine bots.
You can do so by creating quality, engaging, informative, and relevant content for your human readers. It includes incorporating the keywords your target audience searches to make them stay and interact with your website longer.
You can also answer their questions or present your offerings in a way that tempts them to look for more. On the contrary, poor and irrelevant content won’t engage your human readers, negatively impacting your visibility and search engine ranking.
3. Maximize local SEO
Local SEO is one of the most underrated aspects of making the most of SEO. You can generate substantial leads by targeting local searches and ranking for local keywords, such as “near me.”
In fact, recent stats reveal that 46% of all Google searches have local intent. Not only that, but 72% of the people who do a local search reach a physical store located within 5 miles of their home.
However, remember to register a Business Profile on Google before opting for local SEO. That’s how you will appear at the top of Google Maps results for “near me” keywords. Also, try using keywords with your city or state name, such as “best shoe suppliers near me in Las Vegas.”
AI is here. Does SEO still matter?
Despite the rise of AI, SEO remains as crucial as ever in enhancing a website’s visibility. In fact, SEO continues to evolve alongside AI advancements. Here are a few examples:
- SEO optimizes the websites for newly-launched AI algorithms to rank higher and remain visible in search results.
- SEO strategies align a website with AI-driven user intent through informative, high-quality, and valuable content that meets user needs and search engine requirements.
- SEO professionals develop strategies to accommodate AI-powered technical requirements, including mobile-first indexing and voice search optimization, to make websites visible and accessible to users.
- SEO strategies optimize websites for location-based queries and conversational, long-tail keywords.
- SEO makes businesses stand out in the market with better visibility, organic traffic, conversion rates, and high ranking on the SERPs.
Is SEO worth paying for? Can I do it myself?
SEO is definitely worth paying for all types of business, whether a small startup, a middle-sized business, or a large enterprise. It is cost and resource-efficient and gives amazing results when used alongside traditional strategies, such as PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, etc.
It’s better not to do SEO yourself if you are new to this field. Developing and implementing SEO strategies that align with your business needs require SEO experience and skills. You should consult an SEO expert or professional for guidance in different aspects to make the most of your efforts.
Is SEO worth it for small businesses: Key takeaway
SEO is undoubtedly worth it for small businesses as it can continuously boost your brand visibility and lead generation. Yes, it takes some time to get there, especially if you’re starting with a new website. But once your website and content get older, you may achieve your SEO marketing results quicker.
When developed and implemented correctly, SEO will make your brand more visible, establish its authority, and position it to beat competitors. The key is to produce high-quality, unique content relevant to your target audiences and provide them value.
When your human readers like your content, it will ultimately rank your website higher on the SERPs. The more you invest in your SEO efforts, the quicker you will be able to achieve the results.
Is SEO worth it for small businesses: Frequently Answered Questions (FAQs)
How long does SEO take to generate results?
SEO is a long journey that gives results in a few weeks or months. Google appreciates consistent content, so ensure you’re posting quality and relevant content and checking all the SEO boxes properly.
Is local SEO important for small businesses?
Local SEO is essential for small businesses as it makes them appear higher on the local search results on Google when prospects search for similar products or services they offer. You can rank higher for keywords, such as “near me” and “city’s and state’s name,” and reach people most interested in your businesses.
How can small businesses benefit from SEO?
SEO helps small businesses enhance their online visibility, rank higher on the SERPs, attract more leads, and outperform competitors. It is also more cost effective than traditional methods like PPC advertising.