Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the small business can mean the difference between success and failure. With all the advertising options out there today SEO should be at the top of your list. Why, because I believe everyone would agree that a twenty four hour a day marketing message that is always on and never turns off is probably the best marketing tool any business could possibly ask for. But is it working for you or is your competition the one with the leg up?
Just because you are a small business does not mean search engine optimization could not benefit your business. By optimizing your site you will improve the odds when a search query for services you offer is keyed into the search engine, your site will have a better chance of coming up in the organic results. This is the position just below the paid listing that typically appears at the top of the page. Statistics show that 80% of online users look to the organic results first. If you are not represented there you are missing out on a great deal of potential business.
The idea behind on-page SEO is to get the search engines to list your site when a query for services or product you offer is keyed into a search. Then getting the search engines to recognize your site as a provider of those services and or product then serve it back to the search request. Sounds simple doesn’t it! If your customer can only find you by typing in your web address your missing the boat, they may not remember your web address and stumble onto your competition instead.
Today we live in a virtual world where small pizzerias and home based businesses are represented on the Internet, this enables them to get new customers from their websites. They may only be a one-page website, which only specifies their business description, services offered and a phone number.
When it comes to gaining new customers, your website can make a big difference in your success. With most small business budgets are tight. Search Engine Optimization is definitely a must, although it requires a little work you can spear head much of it yourself.
Don’t overlook this critical piece of the online puzzle. It could bring you enormous returns at very little costs. For more information on SEO visit Google support.
Small Businesses are choosing SEO!
Last year an interesting survey was conducted by a lead generating company MerchantCircle.com, that among the 2,500 US small businesses that responded many would choose search engine optimization as the marketing channel they would choose if they could choose only one.
The question asked was: “If you had to put all your marketing time and budget into only one channel, what would it be?” The list of choices included SEO, paid search, mobile, social and traditional media.
Search engine marketing exceeded all other options, it was voted on by 33% of the respondents. 6% of companies chose social media, 10% opted for contextual advertising.
Twenty percent of all respondents, however, chose marketing channels such as print and outdoor advertising. Interestingly, the number of employees in most of these companies does not exceed 4 people (80% of the survey).
So, where to start?
Typically, there is a serious meeting with the key players to try to figure out what to do. Deciding on developing an SEO strategy and plan is not as scary as some of the experts would like you to think. Once you understand a few rules you’re ready to move forward. In fact just understanding the basics will put you far ahead of your competition, acting on it will put you in a lead position among your competition on the net.
At this point, assuming that you have decided that you probably need to do something to gain position in your market place. You’ve looked into what the search engines are serving when you key you’re keywords or phrases into a search, that you believe should serve up your website and have found that you’re not on the first page? Further investigation reveals that you’re not on the second page or the third either? If your website is new meaning three to six months old it may not be indexyet. Submitting it to the search engines will help that. This could take up to thirty days, so you need to be patient.
Second, check that your keywords and meta tags are correctly listed on your page. You may need the help of your webmaster here because you will need to look at the source code.
If you’re feeling brave you can right click on your page and view the source code yourself. The tags you are looking for will generally be found in the first 50 lines of code. They will start with meta name= then the type of tag will follow “keywords”. You will not be able to change them without using an editor or ftp. From here all you can do is look at them. It would be a good idea to print them out, you don’t need to print more then the first page. Some html coding gets very long and you will only confuse yourself by copying the whole code to a word document. After you have printed the code out highlight the meta tags and discuss it with your webmaster. Before you seek any outside assistance with your SEO understand what is on your top-level web pages. If you have an understanding of what is there you will be less likely to fall for some of the tricks that the advertisers use.
In fact, I think small business owners should not go for paid services for search engine optimization at all in the first year after launching their website. You need time to learn and understand what SEO is all about. Signing up for paid service could really hurt you if it is not done correctly or worst yet, signing up for some extended contract that ties you into a service that is not performing. Give yourself at least a year, which will give your blog or website the time to grow and gain the trust of search engines and time for you to learn the basics of SEO on your own. A word of caution, SEO is not an overnight thing, it can take weeks to see results. This may be one reason why business owners are reluctant to begin the process of improving their online web strategy. Unlike (PPC) pay per click, SEO can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. Keep in mind PPC can be very costly also, but the return on your investment is immediate.
In the mean time you can subscribe to local workshops on SEO or join multiple webinars to understand how to create a successful strategy for optimizing your small business website. Even if you start every morning by reading blogs on SEO for half an hour or so, then gradually you will learn how to distinguish the “white hat” optimization from the “gray” and “black” and get the best practical advice on SEO, as well as other valuable lessons in small business marketing.
The more you know, the less likely that you will be deceived by a company engaged in SEO, and the greater the opportunities for your optimization partners to help optimize and increase the position of your company on the internet.
Posted by Ed Sledge