For small business owners, it is imperative to pay attention to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - that is when you Google something, what comes up, how does it look, and in what order.
As a small business owner you have likely attempted to dive into your SEO, perhaps you Googled your business or business category? Maybe you claimed your Google My Business Listing, made a Facebook Page, or asked your website designer or agency to “fix” your SEO. Usually the story goes something like this:
Business Owner: “I Googled my business and it didn’t show up?! What is happening, can you fix this? I’m the best _______ in my field, I should be 1st!”
Agency: “Oh yeah, we can take care of that for you, just pay us ______(insert exorbitant amount of money) a month and we will have you on the first page in no time!”
Business Owner: “That seems like a lot but ok, here’s me entire marketing budget.”
Months, sometime years, go by, and you get that monthly reminder that these folks are “fixing'“ your SEO, so you go Google yourself and you can see that they did a little something 3 months ago but nothing has changed since. You're still not on the first page and your online presence is practically crickets.
Unfortunately, we hear this type of story way too often and we absolutely understand your hesitation and frustration with this seemingly arbitrary thing that can have such a positive or negative effect on your business.
The fact of the matter is that over 87% of consumers are going to the internet to find what they are looking for - and if your business doesn’t show up, how will that consumer find you????
Here are some statistics and our take on what this means for you (compiled from Clutch):
“Social media marketing (63%) is the most common SEO effort for small businesses, followed by a mobile-friendly website (54%) and keyword research (51%).” This is great and all, but it’s backwards by a long shot. Showing up in search needs to be at the top of your concerns, in conjunction with a mobile friendly site - Social Media is icing on the cake, when done well (and detrimental when done poorly).
“More than half of small businesses (54%) depend on in-house staff for SEO services, nearly double the number that hire an SEO agency (28%).” This is amazing and we wish more business would take the time to take control of their SEO in-house. This is no easy feat, but is so, so important. If you choose to go in-house make sure that there is a system in place so that more than one employee understands the process and protocols of your SEO plan. If you need assistance, we are happy to offer individual, team, and organizational level training.
Traffic from search engines (25%) is the primary metric small businesses track to determine the success of their SEO strategies, followed by leads and conversions (19%), and backlinks (14%). Whew this is a tricky one. Think about your own use of Google Search - you often find the information you need without even going to the source’s website! If you are going to track in this way (and use the info to inform your decisions), be sure to add an element that tracks searches that lead to phone calls, walk-ins, and long term conversions.
So where to start?
If you aren’t able to get a handle on your SEO in-house, hire a firm or agency that you can trust. Do your research, and ask for recommendations from fellow business owners. Whatever route you choose, make sure claims are being backed up with real work.
Be sure to do your homework and realize that SEO takes time; it’s a long haul game with no real finish line.
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