SEO For Small Business Websites
So you’ve got yourself a small business website and you’re ready and raring to start connecting with potential new customers. Except there’s one tiny issue. Your online customers don’t have a clue who you are.
Launching a website without Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a bit like launching a cruise ship without an engine. You’re not going to be sailing anywhere fast. The same goes for your website. As such SEO for small business websites is a fundamental element that needs to be incorporated in your website design and development process.
Search engines use algorithms to rank and show website content appropriately in the search results pages (SERPs). So, small business website design needs to allocate appropriate time and effort into SEO as search engines provide the biggest sources of online traffic.
So, even if your business has the perfect product or service if you aren’t making the most of SEO you simply won’t appear on Google, Bing, Yahoo or one of the many other search engines available. Instead, all of those potential customers will go to competitor websites and spend their money there.
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What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
When a user searches via a major search engine it displays relevant web pages, videos, images and local listings. The way this information is ranked and displayed is based on what the search engine considers to be most relevant to the user’s search.
SEO is a marketing practice of increasing the quality and quantity of visitors to your website through search engines. Simply put SEO helps your business achieve a higher listing in the search results thereby increasing the opportunity of customers finding and purchasing your product or service.
Can’t I just pay?
Many small business owners pay for their online visibility via pay-per-click (PPC) also known as Google Ads. It’s easy to set up. It’s effective and you can buy your way to the top of the search results. The problem occurs when you stop paying and suddenly your traffic dries up.
Just over half of all website traffic on the internet comes from organic search. That alone should be a reason to invest in SEO but here are a few more persuasive motivations just in case you’re not yet convinced.
Help Customers Find You
When you build a website you need a way to help customers find you.
We’ve known for some time how important it is to appear on the first page of a SERP but recent research has shown that you want to be up the top with almost 70% of all organic clicks occurring in the first five results.
SEO helps small business website rankings in the search engine result pages (SERPs). Ranking highly for the terms your customers are searching for (also known as keywords) increases the visibility of your website leading to a higher number of visitors.
Connect with Relevant Customers
When people search on Google or other search engines they fall into three search categories that use very specific keywords.
- Informational: Customers understand they have a challenge, question or need but they aren’t sure how to resolve, answer it or meet the need. They use informational keywords such as what is, who are, how to, best, compare and cheap to find solutions and answers.
- Navigational: Customers conceptually know what they want or need and are investigating to find out if it is the right solution for them. They use navigational keywords like near me, reviews, testimonials and prices to find detailed information about specific products, services, and brands.
- Transactional: Customers have decided on a product or service and are ready to buy. They use transactional keywords such as order, deals, download, for sale and where to buy to find the right place to make their purchase.
By answering the search habits of your typical customers SEO enables your small business website to connect with highly targeted customers.
Organic search is sustainable
It would be remiss by not saying that SEO takes time and investment of effort (involving understanding your audience, keyword research, creating quality content, backlinks and much more) to get good rankings in the SERPs. The payoff is that once a page ranks well it usually stays that way for a long time.
You can’t set and forget SEO as it’s continually evolving but you can take a maintenance approach so you stay on top of any major search engine algorithm changes, produce regular content for your audience and keep up to date with your customers search habits.
In comparison paid search, such as PPC, is pretty easy to set up and can deliver instant results but they last only as long as you keep spending money on them.
Dominate search, dominate your market
What happens when your website content holds the number one result for the top keywords in your small business niche?
A recent study by backlinko found that the #1 result in Google gets 31% click-through rate (CTR). It’s not surprising as many search engine users automatically click on the first result. But the difference between the positions is very significant.
By dominating the SERP potential customers that would have gone to a competitor now belong to you.
Organic search is more credible (most of the time)
Do you ever click on the sponsored results when you search for a product or service? You will likely have done so at some time particularly when you were looking to make a purchase.
In general terms, however, only 15% of all website traffic comes from sponsored search. It turns out that most users typically bypass the Google Ads and head straight for the top organic listings particularly when they are looking for information.
As a result, organic listings seem to have more credibility. There is also a strange psychological phenomenon where customers attach a perceived value to the position you hold in the SERP. The higher you rank the greater the trustworthiness and credibility.
SEO for small business websites is an essential way to connect with potential customers searching for a product or service and help turn them into actual customers.
In today’s world, small business websites can no longer afford to ignore their digital presence. So for small business website owners SEO must be a key part of any plan to promote website and business.
SEO enables small business owners to set their website apart from the competition, communicate and engage with customers at the point of need and highlight their business in an increasingly competitive market.
At the end of the day who wants to own a cruise ship with no engine?