As a small business owner, chances are you have a very modest marketing budget with which to attract new customers and clients. So you may be wondering what the point is of using some (or any) of that money to try to rank your website at the top of search engines like Google.
You may well think that advertising in local newspapers or via leaflet drops is a far better use of what limited funds you have. And in some respects you are right; such tactics have been, and continue to be, used successfully by small businesses up and down the country. The truth is, however, that times are changing and more and more people are using the internet to locate shops, suppliers and services.
Right now is the ideal opportunity to take your first steps into the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) and I can say this with confidence for a number of reasons:
1. Competition Is Still Low
99% of small businesses haven’t yet engaged in any form of SEO. This means that the valuable real estate made up of the top 10 positions in the likes of Google and Bing is not too hard to capture.
While the multi-million pound search terms such as “car insurance” or “mortgages” are virtually impregnable for a new company, local search terms driven by specific customer needs are still relatively easy to rank for.
Thus, for a florist based in a town or small city, the realistic aim should be to appear on page 1 of the search results when someone searches for “florist in town” and ideally in the top 3 positions.
The reason for this is that the vast majority of small businesses don’t know how to do SEO. While it is as simple as good on-page optimisation and a link building campaign, most don’t bother. Thus the work required to shoot up the rankings is far lower than in the aforementioned competitive niches.
2. Demand Is Growing
As more people become comfortable with the internet, and as the use of smartphones grows, the number of searches that include a local element is exploding. Gone are the days where the Yellow Pages would be the first port of call for finding nearby companies.
This explosion in local search traffic makes it a very good time to give your company website some visibility by ranking it at the top of the search engines.
The trend is clear: the number of people using the internet to find and choose local businesses will continue to grow every year for the foreseeable future. If you are not taking advantage of this then you are missing out on a valuable opportunity.
3. Gaining Exposure Is Getting Easier
One of the fundamental parts of SEO is gaining various kinds of backlinks to your website and this is, to a certain degree, becoming easier as the opportunities for gaining exposure increases.
With social media channels, videos, podcasting and good old-fashioned press, no business can use the excuse that they don’t know how to build links.
The local press is especially keen to write stories about small business making a difference in their communities so consider taking it upon yourselves to stage an event where local people can get involved.
If you are an electrician, for example, why not setup a stall or stand in the centre of your local town to explain to people the dangers of incorrectly wired light switches. Hold demonstrations showing people how to spot a potentially hazardous switch and what to do if you find one. You can contact the local newspaper and get them down to run a story about how you are helping save lives. They will likely publish an online version too, and you can ask that your website be linked to within the story.
Other opportunities for exposure include reaching out to bloggers or industry publications where once again backlinks can be acquired which will significantly improve your rankings.
Heck, you could even ask your current customers whether they wouldn’t mind linking to your website from their personal blogs or social media profiles.
4. ROI Is High
If you wanted to, you could combine the 3 previous points into 1 by saying that SEO (of the type required to rank a local business) provides a very healthy return on investment or ROI.
ROI is probably the best way for a business to compare marketing methods when they have a fixed budget and SEO comes out very favourably against some of the other options you might have.
The biggest expense is probably your time when it comes to learning the required skills or you could simply ask me for a free SEO review of your website where I’ll take you through what you need to do.
Honestly, there hasn’t been a better time than right now to make a start on marketing your own company’s website.