Creating a successful small business requires careful use of every available resource. It also requires you to make the most of current technologies, especially when it comes to marketing. Modern small businesses who want to stand out from the pack must use digital marketing to increase their visibility. 82 percent of customers conduct research online before making a purchase, so you have to make sure they can find your company when they do.
Almost all online research begins by using a search engine—in most cases, Google. However, more than 50 percent of all clicks on Google go to the first three results displayed. If you want to make sure your company’s website is in those top three results, you need to use SEO. SEO is the process of using keywords and other crawlable content to boost a website’s rankings on Google and other prominent search engines.
What is Crawlable Content?
Crawlable content refers to the pieces of your website that a search engine can detect. Search engines used to crawl only text, but now they can pick up numerous other features as well. Modern search engines typically crawl the metadata in images, video, and even .pdf files.
However, while it’s true that search engines are evolving to detect a larger variety of content, text is still the most important element. For that reason, many websites use keyword strings based on the search terms they anticipate their audience using. That way, when customers search for a specific term, the search engine will find that term in your website and display it closer to the top of the results. If your company sells fresh oranges in Santa Fe, a likely keyword string might be something like “buy fresh oranges Santa Fe”.
Sounds Easy—But Is It?
It should be noted that SEO is more complicated than simply plugging keywords into the text on your website. Even if you have the resources to analyze your customer base and choose keywords they are likely to use, you need to make sure you properly incorporate those terms. Search engines are becoming increasingly adept at screening for websites that overuse keywords. If your site contains lots of keywords without any valuable content around them, you probably won’t make it into the top of the rankings. In fact, algorithms like Google’s “Fred” are explicitly designed to root out pages that over-stuff keywords without valuable content. The algorithms then downgrade the websites in the rankings.
Good SEO strategy involves careful use of marketing analytics to determine appropriate keywords. It also involves the subtle use of those keywords in content that provides actual value to readers. And it requires judicious use of relevant backlinks to support your content and multi-channel optimization for off-site platforms like social media. The complexities of SEO work make it difficult for a small business owner without prior experience to handle it alone. For that reason, it’s almost always worth investing in professional help with your SEO. That way you can make sure it’s actually helping you acquire new customers.
An SEO specialist will analyze your website and online content to determine how to improve it. They will take a data-driven approach to finding out exactly what keywords are most likely to help you acquire and convert new customers. They allow you to maximize your marketing ROI by boosting your ranking positions and attracting more natural/organic search engine traffic.
Investing in SEO
Some companies question the necessity of investing in SEO, because they feel that they cannot afford it. However, the truth is that small businesses can’t afford not to use SEO anymore. If your small business doesn’t take advantage of it, one of your competitors will. It may even be worth borrowing some money to make sure your SEO is properly handled.
If you want to make sure your customers can always find you, you have to represent yourself where most of them are looking: online. Make room in your budget for SEO professionals or borrow the money you’ll need to hire them. You’ll find that the long-term benefits of being highly visible vastly outweigh the short-term costs.