…And why SEO is not dead yet
Is SEO—search engine optimization—low on your small business’s to-do list? If so, think about the north woods lumber jack who was working with a dull saw. When asked why his saw was so dull, he replied, “I know it takes longer to cut down those trees, but I don’t have the time to stop work.”
So, the small business person who neglects SEO and expects the company website to bring customers needs to stop and sharpen the SEO. That is the tool you need to help the search engine dredge the wilds of the web and place you at the top of their hit parade—the first page of the search results, that is.
SEO is not magic—just good marketing
Over the past decade, characterization of SEO as somewhat of a gimmick has caused business people to devalue this tool. As search engines finally got smarter and started penalizing practices like so-called SEO keyword stuffing along with other dubious linking practices, SEO has emerged from its algorithm shell. Web owners and managers only have to concentrate on good content for SEO to work best. Otherwise, there are the penalties of search engine relegation or removal.
Keywords still work
The foregoing is not to imply that keywords are no longer the way to work on SEO. It’s more of a partnership between knowing what potential customers typically look for in their searches, and bringing them to a soft landing on web pages where they are interested in staying awhile and shopping around.
What the small business owner needs to know
Rather than dwelling on the technical aspects and techniques of SEO, let’s concentrate on why small business owners need to buy in on the philosophy of SEO: SEO is to web presence as buying a half-page ad on the Yellow Pages (except SEO works faster).
Here are 5 reasons you need effective SEO on your small business website:
1. Customers typically do not stop with just one search for their product preference.
With good SEO, your business brand will continually appear on multiple searches as customers refine their search terms. Said search terms are the meat and potatoes of SEO. If you want good business visibility and imprinting your brand locally, effective SEO will encourage visitors to click through, read and compare. But you must get them to the site first.
2. Your position on the search results page aids your business gravitas.
A high position on the search page is a vote of confidence by the web crawler. It sends a subliminal message to the searcher that your business is more relevant to the searcher’s needs than, say, the ones that are linked beneath yours. So, good SEO leads to better business “creds.”
3. With SEO, you get more than what you pay for
It’s called ROI (return on investment). ROI–coincidentally the French word for “king”—is the king in judging whether to divert business time, effort, and money to anything. SEO is like a lifeboat with a beacon for those seeking to solve a problem that only your product or service is the solution to. With good SEO you employ a nonintrusive, low-pressure sales approach, and the customer came to you. SEO beats traditional mail and telephone campaigns by a country mile of costs, effort, and higher return on investment.
4. SEO brings visitors
Ignore SEO and your small-business website will exist (or die) in a vacuum. Obviously, not everyone who visits your site will stay or buy, but at least someone wanting your product has stepped into your virtual doorway. It’s another aspect of ROI, because you don’t have to pay the light bill and rent for the store, and you can attend to that customer’s needs anytime day or night. But, again, you must first have visitors.
5. SEO provides a way to track customer traffic, preferences, and other metrics
Once you generate more traffic, you can use great tools like Google Analytics or other dashboard-centered tools. Those tools are the insight you need to compile anything you need to know to improve your small business. For example, what days are your site visits more frequent? What are the times during the business day that your website appears to slow down because of heavy traffic?
Revisiting the so-called “death” of CEO
In his Forbes.com article “7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Invest In SEO” Steve Olenski purports that SEO is “far from dead.” In addition to the ROI and visitor-luring advantages, Olenski points out that SEO:
. still works—His caveat is that “methodic SEO strategies” must pair up with an “optimal user experience.” The methodology not only includes using the Adwords du jour, but also taking the customer directly to the page on the website where the customers don’t have to struggle to flail and fail and ultimately leave in frustration.
. will continue to work—Search engines are nothing more than keyword-dependent algorithms using text-based content. Communication with the search engine requires language, even if it is in the form of audio or visual input.
. will grow as available mobile bandwidth grows—Olenski points out something that shouldn’t surprise anyone who hasn’t been off-planet for the last few years: The amount of searching on and downloading off the internet using mobile devices “is expected to exceed that delivered to traditional desktop devices.” That equates to a future explosion and “a whole new world of effective SEO techniques” for SEO providers and customers.
Web presence enhances SEO rankings
Along with SEO, you need a web presence in social media—e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook, because, according to Olenski, that presence is now another important factor in your SEO rankings. Without that additional presence, our business could suffer. Also, remember that your customers know that and do it.
Keeping the playing field level
The great thing about the Internet and its tools and services is that, for small businesses, it levels the playing field. However, that playing field is an uphill slope. Without an effective SEO strategy, your marketing efforts will suffer, your branding will fade, and your online presence will exist in the netherworld of nowhere.
Need help in navigating the slippery world of SEO. Contact us. We’re here to help you enhance and optimize your online presence so you can concentrate on your core business skills that make you the best small business person the search engine can find.