15 Questions To Ask Before You Start!
Running any business in a highly competitive market is tough, but even more so for small business owners. Many businesses will fail within the first year and many more don’t make it past the five year mark. Even large companies can fail if they don’t adapt when times change. One thing that everyone involved in business knows is that success depends on customers; and independent business owners understand exactly how important an attractive website, effective advertising techniques, and excellent customer services are for the success of their business. Marketing is inherently difficult but, the black-box nature of SEO makes digital marketing one of the most difficult forms of marketing a business. Yet, when the implementation of SEO for a small business is done well, it is capable of turning into a large business.
All business relationships are built on a strong foundation of trust and organic listings can build that required trust with local customers. It is an accepted fact that your visibility online will play an important role in the future success of any business. Whether you choose to do the work yourself, outsource to an SEO agency, or employ an in-house SEO expert, you should consider using SEO to expand your businesses to reach online.
Why is Small Business SEO So Important?
Unless your marketing campaigns are successful enough to appeal to customers, you will fail to attract new business. You may have tried a variety of different methods to do this, for example, online coupons and promotions, special sales or distributing interesting flyers. You may even have considered using SEO to improve your online visibility but, are not sure whether it can help.
As a small business owner, you have to find a way to manage your time, employees, resources. You also do most of the work yourself, from accounting to planning and deciding which products and services to offer. Unlike big companies that rely on huge customer bases, your business depends entirely on regular customers and their opinion of you and your company. This type of word-of-mouth advertising can benefit you or detract from the reputation you have worked hard to establish. You may also have to deal with bigger and more pressing concerns such as:
– Limited personal finances and resources
– Large competitors with endless resources and huge budgets
– Isolated or fewer locations than those of your competitors
All these factors together can limit your opportunities for growth. To expand your business in an ever-increasing market, you need to consider implementing SEO into your small business.
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a multi-layered, complex discipline that includes the following and so much more:
- Keyword research
- A strategically built and optimized website
- Schema Markup
- Conversion rate optimization
- Building links and page authority
- Mobile optimization
- Ensuring your company presents a highly credible and positive image to your potential customers
There are many different types of SEO and an experienced SEO consultant can help you identify the right type for your specific requirements.
A basic way to view it is to look at a search engine as nothing but a referral tool that provides users with the best answers to their questions. To truly succeed in today’s competitive search engine landscape, you will have to do everything in your power to provide the best result to prospective customers who are looking to make a purchasing decision. This helps to convert clicks into customers which will result in a sensible, all-round approach.
Important Areas to Consider
As a small business owner the main SEO areas for you to consider are:
One of the most essential things to have is a well-constructed, fast, and mobile-friendly website. A good SEO professional will be able to design a visually appealing and user-friendly website that will attract more customers to your business.
The content on your website should be designed in such a way that it should demonstrate to a customer why they should choose your product or service.
Good informational blog content will help expose your business to a wider audience.
Basic on-page optimization like Meta descriptions and page titles are extremely important.
Portfolios, case studies, testimonials, and reviews can all help you clinch the deal.
If you are a local business you will want to consider using local SEO Best Practices.
Links are still highly correlated with stronger search engine results.
How Does SEO Work to Benefit your Business?
SEO uses the following techniques and processes to help you grow your online presence:
Improving Your Website Construction
Your rankings will not improve if your website cannot provide users with enough relevant information or the search engine algorithms and spiders cannot parse out and understand exactly what it is you provide. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are search engines that use small programs called ‘spiders’ to crawl through the content of every webpage on the internet. If your website contains little content, unnecessary content or is not well-constructed, these spiders will find it difficult to decide whether your website is valuable enough to present to online users.
If you are interested to get an idea of how these search spiders interpret your site, check out our Free search engine spider simulator.
Optimization works to eliminate this problem by improving your website’s overall construction, eliminating fluff, spam, and nonessential information, and restructuring the site to make it easy for spiders to crawl and understand.
Often optimization involves strategic changes to your website that make your codebase more lightweight and readable
Other considerations come into play as well. Here is just a few of those
Meta data appears in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and provides users with information about what they can expect to find when they follow the link. The more effective and concise your meta-descriptions, the more likely users are to select the link which will lead them to visit your website.
Structured Data is a set of markup data that you can add to your website which improves how search engines interpret and reflect your page in the search engine results. Often when implemented, this can result in added visual or text elements ensuring your listing stands out and is more compelling to searchers.
The process of mobile optimization includes the review and update of your site such that it offers up an optimal experience to users regardless of the mobile devices they access your site on. There are a lot of free tools available for checking your websites mobile-friendliness, but the two we recommend are Page Speed Insights and GTMetrix
By implementing these methods you increase your chance of receiving higher website rankings causing leading to more traffic, greater visibility and ultimately more sales.
Making Each Webpage Appealing To Users
One of the best ways to improve your SEO rankings is to keep users reading. The longer people stay on your site the better your dwell time. (The time which a user spends viewing a document after clicking through to your site from the search engine results page.). Metrics like dwell time, time on site and bounce-rate all play into how your website ranks online.
To keep your audience interested, make sure that they can easily read the content you present. Sentences that are too long or pages that are overstuffed with blocks paragraphs will make it difficult for users to find the details they are looking for. If readers cannot find the information they seek quickly, they will lose interest and leave the site to look for that information elsewhere. Some SEO experts focus solely on the task of making web pages easy to read for online audiences. They accomplish this by keeping sentences concise, simple, and clear. This is a straightforward format that makes it easy for customers to quickly scan the material to find what they are looking for.
Another way to keep potential customers interested is to optimize the visual appeal of your website without overshadowing the content. The better you balance your visual aesthetics with the good overall content, the longer your audience will be enticed to stay.
The important thing to remember, however, is to please your customers first and not the search engines. If your customers have a good experience they will choose to stay on your website much longer and even choose to visit it again in the future. Get this right, and you can rest assured that if users find your site appealing and easy to use, the search engines will too.
Implementing Keywords to Boost Your Website’s Search Ranking
Most of us use search engines daily, but how often do we stop to consider how those search results are offered up to users. To simplify it, a searcher enters a certain keyword or query into their search engine of choice and the search spiders crawl through an index of pages to fetch those they perceive best match that query.
If your webpage contains either the exact terms or semantically similar terms to the query in question and that usage, along with the page’s authority, links, social shares, etc are all intact then your pages are more likely to shop up for relevant and related searches.
Is SEO the Right Solution for Your Small Business?
Search engines are the most common way in which people look for services and products online today. This presents a great opportunity for small businesses to get their products and services in front of potential customers. However, SEO may not be the right approach for everyone.
In order to establish whether it is the right solution for you, here are some of the things you should consider:
– Available Budget
Your company may not have the budget to compete with established competitors in the market.
– Speed of Delivery
Especially in competitive markets, SEO can take a long time before results are delivered.
– Large Competitors
As some search terms are unfortunately dominated by giant companies in the market, it makes it very hard for small businesses in certain industries to compete.
Although organic search traffic is some of the best converting traffic a business can get, it should not be solely relied upon, especially in cases where results are needed quickly and the business is young or still has a long way to go. Other methods like PPC advertising may deliver faster results while you are waiting for SEO to kick in.
Some form of SEO is certainly good for any business but, the real question is whether this valuable tactic is a good fit for your specific requirements at this specific point in time. To determine when SEO should be introduced you should consider your present budget, required speed, and starting position before making a decision. In most cases, a combined approach that makes use of PPC advertising and SEO practices will deliver the best short-term results. PPC will deliver quick results at a cost until your organic visibility has built up to a stage where you can look at cutting back on paid search marketing.
Even though ranking with SEO will not happen quickly, if you start investing in your own SEO strategy, you will soon be able to benefit handsomely from this effective and lucrative marketing channel.
What are the Benefits that SEO Can Bring Your Small Business?
Now that we know exactly how SEO can improve your website we can explore the three main ways in which it can benefit your business.
1. Appealing to a Larger Audience
In the world of convenience that we live in, there is nothing that makes life easier than the use of the internet for almost anything we need to know or buy. Using SEO to improve your website’s visibility online means your business will appeal to a much larger audience. When you attract more customers to your website, your advertising capabilities will increase without having to spend a fortune on added marketing costs like printed flyers, ads, signs, tv or radio commercials.
2. Increased Customer Retention Rate
As we have discussed above, having an appealing website that is easy to navigate and useful to the end-user means you will retain the user’s attention longer, giving you a greater opportunity to build brand loyalty and trust. Traffic, along with brand recognition and loyalty, means that people will develop a more well-rounded opinion of you and your company given enough time. This leads to a compound effect that, in time, will start to generate a regular flow of new clients and reoccurring customers from past or existing customers.
3. Stays in the Public Eye for Longer
Unlike TV commercials, posters, and newspaper ads, which are temporary media, the SEO does not disintegrate or fade over time the same way other marketing mediums do. People will continually use this channel to make their lives more convenient which keeps your company’s image alive much longer than other mediums.
When considering an investment in SEO, no matter what the size of your company, you should keep these advantages in mind. With the right search engine optimization, you can increase your customer base and it may be just what you need to outshine those bigger names in your industry.
How to Choose the Right SEO Provider for Your Small Business?
This may be a tough task and will require a certain amount of research to be done on your part. Do some investigation and don’t take anything at face value. Find out if the agency has a good reputation and a good amount of positive reviews.
Choose SEO consultants or agencies that are respected, well-known in the industry, and draw up a list of pertinent questions to ask potential agents.
Below we list a few questions that will provide a good starting point in your search for the right SEO partner.
1. How do they propose to improve your SEO?
This is an open question that allows you to get a feel for the specific strategies that the company follows to assist their clients. Look out for the mention of terms like:
– On-page optimization
– Technical audits and fixes
– Local SEO
– Keyword research
– Mobile optimization
– Page speed optimization
– Content optimization
– Some form of authority and link building
2. What type of SEO work does the company specialize in?
SEO has many facets including local, technical, organic, national, links, authority, and content. Smaller SEO agencies may only focus on some of these parts. The answer to this question will ensure that the company you are considering will be a good fit for your particular requirements.
3. How much does the company charge for SEO?
There is a lot of variance between what some SEO agencies charge for their services. Going for the cheapest package available is not always the best way to go. There are a lot of costs that are often absorbed by reputable SEO agencies, so if the cost seems too good to be true, it could end up costing you in the long-term, especially if such packages don’t include everything needed to move the needle. Here is an article that explains how much you should pay for SEO.
4. What specific tasks does the company work on each month?
A good agency can be expected to provide a detailed, 3-month minimum process that involves tasks like:
– On-page optimization
– Content optimization
– Link building
– Technical audits and fixes
5. What strategies does the SEO company use to build links and authority for a website?
This is an important question as it helps to determine the company’s understanding of how webpage rankings work. You want natural links and some form of accompanying of content creation or promotion; some digital PR perhaps, and some form of guest posts for exposure.
6. Ask if the company can provide you with case studies or examples of companies similar to yours that they have helped in the past.
Here you are looking for proof as well as examples of how the SEO provider has grown the traffic share, leads, and revenue of other businesses in your niche or industry.
7. What metrics does the company measure to track progress?
For small businesses, you can’t expect too much. The baseline is keyword rankings but ideally, you will want to see the use of a more robust set of SEO, KPIs, and reporting mechanisms.
8. How will reporting take place each month and what will be reported?
The quality of reporting may depend on your budget to some extent. In any event, you will be looking for reports on work completed, work planned for the following month, improvements in results for tracked keywords, and the visibility of tracked keywords.
9. How often does the company review progress?
You want the company to tell you what will be reviewed and how often. With a good SEO provider, your business should be in a much better position in about 6 to 12 months, therefore you want to know how the company’s strategy will change over time.
Competitive Small Business
Now that you know the 15 questions that’ll get you primed and ready to compete in the online world of eCommerce as a small business, it’s time to start answering them.
First, begin with deciding if SEO is the right solution for you before moving on to developing an SEO strategy. If you’re unsure, perhaps looking for an SEO consultant is best. Enleaf, for example, will tell you if it’s in your best interest to develop an SEO-strategy with you and for your small business. The whole point of a digital marketing strategy is to move your company forward, not go into a spending frenzy for something that won’t benefit you.
If you’re still unsure as to what SEO is and how it is potentially relevant for your small business, we have a great video that explains the ins and outs of search engine optimization in a way that even your grandma’ will understand.
Let’s wrap up with a recap:
- SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization
- The job of any search engine is to make information easily accessible and relevant
- SEO is a way of helping a website appear more prominently in search engines
- All online business do or will soon need an SEO strategy
- SEO tactics involve relevant keywords, a clear and concise website, and technical factors of your site design as well as links within it.
With questions asked, answered, and SEO explained, you’re well equipped to climb the search engine ranks while increasing traffic and conversion rates.
Enjoy the success!