Digital marketing can be difficult and costly to get right no matter the size of a company, but even small businesses can see some excellent and cost-effective results with a little bit of time, effort and funding by using some handy SEO tricks.
But what exactly is SEO? Should your small business use it? And should you try it yourself, or use an agency?
What is SEO?
Simply put, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”, and it is exactly as it sounds; optimizing your website so it appears at the top of Google’s search engine results.
Determining which websites show up is a phenomenally complex process set out by Google’s algorithm, built of more than 200 individual factors. In a nutshell, here’s how the process works:
- First, every accessible page on every single website on the internet will be visited by an automated robot, which Google refers to as “spiders”. These crawl the internet, gathering information about every webpage they visit, storing them on Google’s servers.
- Next, when someone uses Google’s search engine, the algorithm processes all the information gathered by its spiders across all websites vaguely related to the user’s query – yours included.
- Finally, the Google search engine works through its 200 factors to evaluate the order in which it should present the results to the user, with the highest-ranking websites being chosen as the most authoritative or relevant.
An SEO consultant, like our specialists at AAA Digital Marketing, will go through your website with a fine-tooth comb and look for any ways of improving your SEO and get your website higher up in these rankings than your competitors. Some of the most important areas for SEO include:
- Website structure – how quickly it loads, especially the quality and speed of the mobile-friendly version
- Keywords – making sure your website has optimal keyword terms matching what your potential customer may be typing into the search engine. For small businesses, this will include both global and local keyword sets. However, this is all about quality and not necessarily quantity; too much repetition or too many different keywords will appear as spam to Google’s spiders
- Content – apart from keywords, checking that your content is relevant to your customers
- Page optimizations – making sure every page is optimized. Areas here would include URL links, page titles, image titles and alts, meta descriptions, tagging, etc.
- Linking – ensuring you have a good network of links throughout your website to other pages on your website or elsewhere that are relevant, as well as backlinking, which builds authority
This is just a small sample to give you an indication of what our SEO specialists would look out for.
Should My Small Business Use SEO?
In short: absolutely. SEO is incredibly important no matter the scale of the business. If anything, it is doubly important for smaller businesses that do not have an established authority where the brand name alone can drive sales. By correctly optimizing your website, including products and services, you can attract customers that might otherwise go to your local competitors, generating additional sales that can then be used to fund further expansion.
However, SEO on its own is not necessarily guaranteed to yield results, and the amount of optimization you can carry out may be constrained by a number of factors; primarily, your budget, time limitations or expectations, competition from bigger businesses, and paid adverts.
The budget is fairly simple; the more you can spend, the more you can optimize. But the issue with SEO is it takes a long time to really get rolling, so you are unlikely to see immediate results. Even the simple act of getting indexed by Google – which effectively means Google knows you exist, giving you even a slight chance of appearing in searches – can take anywhere from 4 days to 6 months!
In the case of bigger businesses, there is little you can do to compete with them simply because no matter how much time or money you spend, they can undoubtedly spend more. This is not to say you should not at all use SEO; beating them in search results is possible, just difficult.
You also may notice that sometimes when you search something on Google, you may see up to four adverts at the very top of the results before anything else appears. These will have been paid by another business, effectively planting them above everything else.
The good news is, your business can also create PPC (pay-per-click) adverts. These are excellent when combined with SEO because the PPC campaigns will deliver more immediate results, albeit at a higher overall cost, whilst also giving a boost to your SEO organic visibility.
Once this is done, you can then scale back the budget on paid adverts because more and more internet users are installing ad-blocking software on their browsers, making them increasingly less effective.
Can I Do SEO Myself, or Should I Use an Agency?
There are countless guides online about SEO best practices, certainly enough to help you make some improvements. But ultimately, nothing beats an SEO expert with the knowledge, budget, and skill to properly make SEO work for you.
Choosing the right SEO consultancy is a case of asking your potential choices how exactly they will make improvements to your website, and whether they can back up their claims with case studies or real-world examples of their previous work. You should also make sure to choose one that does the right type of SEO for your business. For example, are you trying to just get local business in one town, or across multiple towns or even states?
This is the benefit of choosing AAA Digital Marketing for your SEO needs. We are a group of marketing experts with a wide variety of skills to solve any kind of problem or request thrown at us to help small businesses with aspirations for growth like yours leap to the top of search engine rankings.