SEO: Why your small business needs this digital marketing service

I can summarize this entire blog in one thought: If you have a website, you need to cover at least the basics of SEO in order to ensure your customers don’t flock to your competition.  If you only take one thing from this, let it be that. 

But you don’t want the summary, do you?  The intent of this blog is to inform you, a small business owner, that ignoring SEO can lead to devastating effects to your online reputation.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the set of practices aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of traffic that flows to your website via search engines.  With an increase in quality traffic to your site, the goal is get those users to make some sort of conversion that benefits your bottom line.

These can include various on and off-site tasks, but one thing is certain: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.  If you are expecting to double your sessions and jump 94 rankings in less than a month, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

SEO practices that were commonplace even 3 years ago are no longer relevant.  Even Google’s algorithm changes over 500 times a year (we only ever hear about the big algorithm updates) Staying up-to-date is an absolute must if you either hire an SEO agency or start doing the work yourself.

One more thing to keep in mind is the fact that organic SEO and paid ads (Google Adwords) are entirely different and should be treated as such.

How does SEO affect my bottom line?

Of course that’s what you want to know, that’s why you’re here! Far too often companies engage in SEO but they don’t make the necessary adjustments to their campaign because they can’t assign sales or conversion to their website.

If the revenue generated from the website exceeds your budget, then you’re doing something right!

If nothing else, just make sure you have a couple of goals set up in Google Analytics, such as the /thank-you/ page visit.  To take this one step further, train your salespeople or on-the-road technicians to ask customers how they discovered your business.  If they say “Google”, then that should be credited to the SEO efforts.

 

Is my website ready for SEO?

As mentioned before, if you have a website, there’s no excuse not to at least cover the basics of SEO.  One of the best things you can do is search on Google for keywords for which you’d like to rank.  Let’s say you’re an HVAC company in Bucks County.

HVAC Company Bucks County

Nearly every listing has some variation of “HVAC” and “Bucks County”.

These are one of the easiest wins you can have for your website.  Include your desired keywords in your meta titles and descriptions, as well as on the page, and you’ll at least have a starting point. Once you start keyword-stuffing, Google will take notice and penalize you.  A good rule of thumb is that if the title or descriptions aren’t readable for actual people, then it’s not good.

If you are one of the 75 million sites using WordPress, then you are in luck.  Installing the Yoast SEO plugin will allow you to seamlessly insert those titles and meta descriptions.  If you’re using another builder such as Square Space or Wix, you’re options are bit more limited but you can still cover the basics.

Should I hire an in-house SEO guy or an agency?

My recommendation would be to look at the numbers.  The average salary for an SEO associate is around $50k if you are able to generate more than $50k for your business per year from your website, then I HIGHLY recommend hiring in-house. 

The more an in-house SEO associate understands about your specific product or service, the better they’ll be able to create content for your potential clients.  Relying on an SEO agency’s staff to fully understand your brand, product, and services by only working on it for a few hours per month can lead to bad results.

Odds are if you’re a small business, you don’t have the room on the payroll budget.  SEO companies tend to keep their pricing off their site (of course there are exceptions) so you’ll need to call or email them for pricing.  From my experience working at small agencies, we were able to perform campaigns for as low as $1k per month and still make our client profitable.

Plus if you choose an agency, they’ll already have extensive knowledge of the industry.  Some agencies like to specialize on a few niches if you’re fortunate enough to work with one of them, highly consider it because they have a proven track record.

How do I create good content?

I can’t dive into specifics for your specific industry, but this rule of thumb applies to any:  Put yourself behind the eyes of your ideal customer.  If they visit your website, do they have all of the necessary information to make a decision?

If the answer to this is “no”, then here’s a few tips:

  • Check out your competitors that rank above you.  Odds are they’re doing something right.
  • Consider adding testimonials to pages, but make sure they are related to the page’s topic.
  • Make sure the copywriting and imagery on your website is relevant to your target audience and your brand.

What are some easy SEO tasks I can do myself?

I already talked about meta titles and descriptions, so go back and read “Is My Website Ready for SEO” for more details.

  • Form a list of 10-20 keywords that you’d like your company to rank for.
  • Start blogging about your industry.  It conveys a level of leadership in your industry and it helps rank for some of those long-tail keywords.
  • Make sure your website has a logical structure.
  • Keep your name, address, phone, and email consistent.
  • Get some backlinks from local business directories.  Try to shoot for at least 20 for a good start.
  • Install Google Analytics on your website.  If you’re not tracking your website, how can you judge your SEO efforts?
  • Install Google Search Console.  Make sure your sitemap is submitted, fetch & rendered, and there are no manual actions.
  • Claim your Google My Business listing.  That’s where you can put your business hours, some photos, and contact info.  Make sure this information is ACCURATE.

Check back in the coming weeks for a blog that dives much deeper into this specific topic! 

 

Does Facebook or other social media help with SEO?

Indirectly, not directly.

The more followers or engagements you have on Facebook or Twitter will not influence your rankings one single bit.  But, if you have a strong presence on social media that refers traffic to your website, then yes, rankings can increase.

When visitors from social media go to your site, do they find what they’re looking for?  Do they engage?  Do they stay on the page longer than a few minutes?  If not, then you need to post content from your site on social media that are relevant to them.

Now what?

By now I’m hoping you have a foundational understanding of search engine optimization and can make an informed decision as to if it’s beneficial for your business.  Please feel free to send me an email if you wish to ask me directly,  shoot me a tweet or comment below!

 

Edward Lahm

Author Edward Lahm

2018 graduate of Temple University, experienced SEO guy at Infinity Digital, 9-time rewatcher of The Office, groove-keeper for Presidential Top Knot, and lover of great beers! Something I take great pride in is helping small businesses stay competitive online amidst their fierce competition using the many elements of digital marketing.

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