Should Small Businesses Care About SEO?
A consumer’s online search journey usually consists of the three major search engines Google, Yahoo!, and Bing (Google dwarfs the other two, accounting for almost 65 percent of all searches). For brands, this fact should convey the importance of making sure that consumers can find you through these search engines. The easier you make it for customers to find you, the more revenue you will make. But how do you make sure your content is seen when there are so many other businesses out there? The trick is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
What is SEO?
SEO is how businesses, brands, publications, and even influential personalities get their online content at the top of a search engine’s results page. When a search engine scours the web, the sites that properly use keywords, html, backlinks, and avoid flash are the ones that are most easily recognized. SEO has a lot to do with knowing what your consumers are searching for online. When it comes to searching, there are three main types of inquiries:
- Transactional Queries: The user wants to do something, such make a purchase or watch a video.
- Informational Queries: The user wants to know something, such as the name of a song or the best restaurant in town.
- Navigation Queries: The user wants to go to a particular page, such as Facebook or the homepage of their favorite brand.
Now that you know what the major search types are, we can circle back to SEO. As a small brand, chances are you are stretched thin financially. Hiring an SEO company can be daunting, and many purport that SEO is on the level of witchcraft and can only be mastered by highly trained “SEO wizards”. While not entirely untrue, what happens if you can’t afford to hire someone?
First off, if you’re interested in putting your research hat on, Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a great place to start if you want to understand more than just the mechanics. Next, it’s important to know what not to do in terms SEO. There are many mistakes that are commonly made by brands. The three biggest mistakes made which hinder SEO are:
- Poor quality content: If you’re not creating high quality, shareable content, backlinks (wherein someone links back to your site as an example) to your site will never happen. Backlinks are one of the best ways to get to the top of that search results page. Focus on creating content that your customers/followers are craving. Search engines specifically ignore sites that don’t provide quality content to the users.
- Mismatched keywords: This is when the keywords for the site don’t match the body content, heading, or url. Make sure that all of your proverbial ducks are in a row and make sure that your keywords match your site data.
- Index issues: If there are any issues on your page in terms of links being faulty, images being loaded wrong, or pages not directing to the right places, there will be issues with your ability to index. To cut to the chase, if you can’t be indexed, you won’t be seen by the search engine, and in turn by your consumer.
Can I tackle it alone or will I need help?
As a newer brand, the above information will help you grasp what SEO is and how it can help you grow. Having a rudimentary understanding of this complex topic is important to keep on top of an increasingly digital retail landscape. That said, there is no way a person without training in SEO and optimization can do the job effectively. Even as a new brand with limited budget there is no way around hiring consultant of some kind if you’re serious about SEO. The marketing spend on SEO will pay dividends in the long term for your business and online presence. Search Engine Journal suggested a price range for hiring an independent SEO specialist, stating that those with one to three years of experience in SEO typically charge almost $88 per hour, with those that have over 10 years of experience charging almost $189 per hour. They also add that when hiring an SEO specialized agency, expect to pay somewhere between $100 to $185 per hour, depending on the agency’s billable rate.
While these prices may seem a little hefty, it is important to realize just how important SEO is and how much of an impact it can have on your business’ growth. However, SEO is not something you should be doing half-heartedly. If hiring someone to help with SEO is not something within your marketing budget, you should avoid it altogether and wait until you are able to go full steam ahead.
So, should you care about SEO? In today’s retail world, the answer seems to be a resounding ‘yes’. And with that, we’ll leave you with this quote:
“The most important thing to note about SEO for early-stage ventures is it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I see too many people getting frustrated by a lack of stellar results in the first couple months, when this just isn’t possible. These fights are long-term ones, so buckle down and stick to the basics. Eventually you’ll look back and see that you’ve built a monster.” – Weston Bergmann, lead investor in BetaBlox
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