SEO involves the strategies and tactics of getting your business’ webpages found, indexed, and ranked by search engines. The more frequently your pages appear high on search engine results pages (SERPs), the more visitors you’ll get. More visitors equals more opportunities to convert information seekers to customers.
When executed effectively, SEO helps your web pages show up higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). And considering 95% of search traffic belongs to the first page of search results, SEO can exponentially increase a business’ exposure to particular audiences.
Small business SEO is a subcategory of SEO. While general SEO and small business SEO deal with the same principles—keywords, technical SEO, backlinks, content, etc.—the two variations take different approaches to overall SEO strategy.
For example, general SEO strategy will target broad, high-volume keywords to cast a wide net and reach as many searchers as possible. This strategy makes more sense for large, well-established enterprise level businesses with resources to pursue more general terms.
Meanwhile, small business SEO strategy takes advantage of long-tail keywords to avoid larger competitors, reach highly-targeted audiences, and earn leads with higher conversion potential. Rather than targeting the keyword “attorneys,” small businesses will have more success targeting “attorneys in San Diego CA” or “attorneys near me.”
Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of small business SEO:
- Technical SEO – By optimizing the infrastructure of a website (sitemaps, page speed URL structure, etc.), a small business helps search engines better understand its content. As a result, search engines are more likely to show that content higher in SERPs.
- Keywords – These are the words or phrases that searchers use to find information on search engines. Small businesses attempt to “reach” certain audiences by including the keywords used by target audiences in digital content.
- Backlinks – Websites with more high-quality links from other websites will show up higher in search results.
- Content – Through blogs, whitepapers, videos, product pages, and more, a small business can deliver information its target audience is looking for, prove its value, and start a brand-consumer relationship.
Is SEO Important for Small Businesses?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for virtually any business, but the reasons for which SEO is necessary depends on how a business operates and which audiences it wishes to attract.
For local small businesses, SEO can exponentially increase traffic, high-quality leads, and customers.
Consider that 72% of people who conduct a local online search visit a store within five miles of their location. A strong SEO strategy is a straightforward way for local small businesses to make sure the store those searchers visit is their own.
On Google, 46% of all searches focus on local information.
So while the internet is certainly a place that connects the world, it’s also highly effective in connecting local business to local consumers.
Regarding mobile search, 78% of location-based searches result in an offline purchase.
So, we’re not just talking about more traffic. For local businesses, SEO can lead directly to more sales.
What about small businesses that operate on a national scale, such as an eCommerce business?
Without a local presence to visit, consumers of online businesses will connect with those businesses through a website or other digital presence. And SEO is how those businesses make themselves easy to find.
When a business can draw organic visitors to its website through SEO practices like keyword research and technical SEO, they don’t need to spend as much on ads to get more eyes on their products.
And considering leads from SEO are 8x more likely to become paying customers than leads generated by traditional ad campaigns, SEO produces a higher ROI for online small businesses.
In short, SEO is important for any small business because it…
- Builds a website’s legitimacy
- Makes the business easier to find for targeted audiences (local or otherwise)
- Makes the website user-friendly
- Helps the business identify and convert high-quality leads
How Can My Company Boost Organic Traffic?
SEO is the key to unlocking more organic traffic. 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search results, and 40% of revenue is generated from that traffic.
The first proven path to more organic traffic is keyword research. Understanding the keyword phrases your audience is searching for enables you to develop keyword-rich content that meets their needs. As a result, you’ll produce content your target audience craves, and search engines will make that content easier to find.
While the most popular keywords are attractive, focus on long-tail keywords. These are the keywords that often include local sentiment at the end, such as, “surfboard shop in Virginia Beach.”
Besides avoiding larger competitors, long-tail keywords also give you access to a rising trend within the online landscape: more localization.
A review of 2019 Google search showed that searches including “near me” doubled over a two-year span.
By capitalizing on those types of trends, keyword research gives you a platform to earn more organic traffic.
Headlines are another key element of gaining organic traffic. This strategy extends keyword research. What’s most important here is understanding searcher intent is more important than the keyword terms themselves.
While keywords throughout the content persuade search engines to serve your content as an option for searchers, a headline geared toward the searcher’s needs is what will earn clicks.
Finally, make your content easier to find through technical SEO. By optimizing page speeds, sitemaps, and the rest of your website’s infrastructure, you’ll make your website more attractive to search engines. Those search engines reward you by being more likely to show your website or content on Page 1 of SERPs.
And since 95% of search traffic belongs to the first page of search results, stronger technical SEO is paramount for small businesses.
SEO Best Practices for Small Businesses
As a small business, how can you optimize your SEO strategy with limited resources?
Let’s focus on the most impactful aspects of SEO to deliver the most qualified traffic to your website:
- Mobile support
- Page speed
An aspect of SEO ignored by many small businesses is optimizing website content for mobile. As of 2020, 55% of all online traffic came from mobile. By the year 2025, more than 70% of internet users will access the internet solely via mobile devices.
And Google evaluates mobile websites for indexing and ranking purposes, meaning the performance of your mobile site will directly affect which SERP your content exists.
It’s also vital to focus on page speed because this one aspect of SEO has several impacts. As a part of technical SEO, page speed will affect how search engines determine the value of your site and where to rank your content.
Page speed also plays a vital role in the user experience. 53% of mobile users will abandon your site if it takes over three seconds to load.
Slow page speed alone could cost you highly qualified leads. Poor user experience crushes search engine rankings.
Of course, your digital content needs to be unique, plentiful, and informative. An intimate knowledge of your audience will help you determine what they’re looking for, and your content is how you deliver that information.
Beyond search ranking, content affects the user experience, your credibility, visibility, and more.
Finally, make analysis a key aspect of your SEO strategy. Knowing where your traffic comes from, how pages are performing, and which content is converting leads, you can constantly optimize your content strategy for more traffic, leads, and sales.
The Three Types of SEO Your Business Should Care About
Some aspects of SEO require more technical knowledge, so it’s easy for many small businesses to ignore areas where they lack expertise. However, all three types of SEO have a significant impact on search engine rankings, user experience, and more.
That’s why you should care deeply about all three types of SEO:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
On-page SEO involves the content on your web pages, such as product descriptions, blogs, and white papers.
To help Google understand how well your content matches search queries, it’s vital to pay close attention to keyword usage, internal links, image alt-tags, and title tags. Google analyzes all of this information to gauge the relevance of your content as it relates to search terms.
Off-page SEO involves any SEO strategy that could enhance your SERP rank from outside sources. For example, backlinks are an integral off-page SEO strategy.
Backlinks are keyword relevant links back to your site. The best links come from industry related high-authority sites. Backlinks act as votes attesting to your expertise and credibility. Be careful. Years ago people tried to game the system by creating link-farms and link-networks of low-quality sites. Google caught on, changed their algorithm, and de-indexed millions of pages.
Social media marketing and guest blogging are other forms of off-page SEO because they can establish credibility, raise visibility, and drive traffic to your website from outside of your content.
Technical SEO involves improving the infrastructure of your website to persuade search engines to rank your content higher.
From sitemaps to page speed to indexing and more, technical SEO allows search engine crawlers to gather information about your site more readily. In return, you’re likely to earn better page ranks.
And when a technical SEO feature like page speed enhances the user experience, it has a direct benefit to both search rankings and conversion rates.
How Much Will an SEO Project Cost My Team?
Before you can ever gain an accurate projection for the cost of an SEO project, you must first gain an understanding of what that project will include.
No two businesses are the same. That means you have unique processes, goals, audiences, content, and more. In the same respect, no two SEO projects are the same because each one must be tailored to a unique situation.
So, the first step in this process is to evaluate your own SEO needs…
- Do you need to overhaul your content library?
- Is your focus only on technical SEO?
- Are you starting from scratch?
- What keywords do you want to rank for?
In general, small business SEO services average $750 to $3,000+ per month depending on your goals, needs, timeline, and expectations.
Keep in mind SEO is an investment—on average, however, SEO returns $4 for every $1 spent compared with $2 for pay-per-click (PPC), and $.95 for social media (Forbes).
PPC and paid social stop delivering new leads as soon as you turn off the ads, SEO can deliver can deliver lasting value for years to come with minimal maintenance and upkeep. SEO gets better over time. Initial efforts later by establishing E-A-T factors search engines use to rank sites higher. Example, given two sites with equally relevant content those with more E-A-T rank higher.
SEO services are typically charged by the following:
- Hourly – SEO consultants who don’t work for an agency tend to charge roughly $100 to $300 per hour.
- Monthly – This is the most popular option since the best small business SEO services include prolonged monitoring, analysis, and revisions. Expect monthly rates to range from $750 to $3,000+ per month.
- By Project – The price of this unpopular option depends a great deal on the scope of the SEO project. Estimates often reach up to $30,000 and beyond.
- In-House SEO Expert – While hiring an in-house SEO expert provides ongoing SEO support, it also comes at a steep cost. Salaries for such a position often start at $60,000 and grow much larger.
Why Should I Invest In Small Business SEO Experts?
The most successful small businesses are investing in SEO experts because this single investment is an avenue to more organic traffic, more qualified leads, and more sales.
Yet many small business leaders are asking whether they should try SEO themselves or opt for small business SEO services.
Let’s examine why bringing in SEO experts is the most cost-efficient and effective option.
First, it’s unlikely that your team has the expertise to develop and execute a comprehensive SEO strategy that helps you rank on page one.
While some members of your team might understand keyword research or how to create quality content, you likely aren’t armed with expertise in backlinking, site mapping, page speed, and other aspects of technical SEO.
Without the key elements of SEO you don’t get true optimizations that drive business growth.
Second, experts have proven systems and strategies in place, which means you’ll see results quicker. No learning on the job required. The best SEO experts will gain intimate knowledge of your business, audience, and goals, then cater their process to you.
Third, SEO is one of the most effective marketing strategies for small businesses, especially local ones. So, an up-front investment in SEO is well worth the long-term credibility, traffic, leads, and sales.
Keep in mind that 51% of all web traffic comes from organic search, and nearly half of all searches are local.
Finally, being decent isn’t good enough. With SEO it’s page one or bust.
75% of searchers never make it beyond the first page of results.
So, even if your own team is able to push your SEO efforts to the point where you’re ranking on the second and third page, it’s not worth the endeavor.
As SEO becomes more competitive than ever, you need expert small business SEO services to reach page one…and all the traffic, qualified leads, and customers that come with it.