Search engine optimisation is how you make it easier for your target market to find you using search engines such as Google. It is a series of strategies aimed to make your website appear higher up on search engine results.
Small business owners who have started to get online may feel a little like they are wading into the shallows of a deep and volatile ocean, that is also filled with sharks. (I may have taken the metaphor a bit far there…) But there is one thing that rings true for running a small business these days:
You can’t avoid having to go online to grow your business.
Why does a small business need an online presence?
Even if you don’t run an online business, you need an online presence, because almost 90% of potential customers search for new or local businesses through online search engines.
This means more than just having a listing on White Pages or True Local. Having a simple listing will tell people how to contact you in real life, but it doesn’t help them compare you to any of your competitors or showcase what you’ve got to offer.
Customers looking for businesses like yours need more information to be able to compare you with others in your market, before they will take the next step of contacting someone.
When a customer keys specific search terms in to the browser to look for something, search engines seek to display the websites that are the most relevant and authoritative on those terms.
SEO is all about understanding how those search engine bots work to increase your position in search results.
How can SEO benefit your business?
Basically, it brings you business.
There are very few small businesses out there that don’t need customers at some point in time, and the best way to get customers is through search engines because they are much further along the buying path as they are searching with intent.
You can (and should) create a fantastic website, but you also need to bring people to it as much as possible.
SEO is how word of mouth works in the digital age.
For some reason, people trust search engines to give them the most relevant recommendations when they ask for something. As per this research conducted by eMarketer.
For example, consider a term such as ‘carpet cleaning Townsville’.
If you own a carpet cleaning company in Townsville, you want Google to put your name forward first to the people searching for that term. Ideally you want to be among the listings on the first page (if not top 1-4 positions on page 1).
Why? Because, using this example, anyone searching that term/phrase is looking for an answer, a product, a service. They are in the “taking action” stage of the buying cycle. They are seeking information and/or ready to make a purchase.
What do search engines look for?
The analysis that Google does to work out if you are good is based on a few things, and you use SEO strategies to maximise these things on and off your website. These can include:
- How often your website is updated with new content
- How much relevant information is on your website
- How often you use key terms in relevant places in your website
- How often other websites link to yours or refer to you as an authority on the subject
- How well your website loads
- If your site is secure and compatible with different sized screens such as smart phones
This is pretty clever strategy from Google, and usually it works, which is why people trust it to make good referrals.
Google is like that little ol’ lady that has lived next door for fifty years that knows the best local shop for everything. Plus, like that elderly lady, Google is constantly peeking into other people’s backyards to see what is going on.
SEO is a bit more complicated than just writing ‘I am a Townsville cleaning service’ 500 times on every page of your website, because old lady Google is wise to that kind of sneaky behaviour. (This is known as keyword stuffing which is a no-no).
Now on the other hand, there are people out there who LOOOOVE doing all the research. Let’s call them Harold.
Harold couldn’t think of anything better than needing to find a new supplier of rope for his boat, because this allows him to browse, read, learn, make notes, make charts and comparisons, get quotes, haggle providers down to get better quotes and then get a great deal.
Harold, the research-loving boat owner, literally crawls all the pages and search terms he can to find all of the information possible before making a purchase decision.
However most of your potential customers are not like Harold.
Most customers want the information as quickly and easily as possible, and whoever gives it to them first, they will choose. This is because in a digital age there is an infinite amount of information at any point in time, and people simply do not have the time to go through it all.
It’s similar to the old days when you would pick 3 names from the Yellow Pages, get a quote from each, and do business with the best one for you. Now we usually compare the listings on page one of search results and follow the same process.
Successful small business today uses SEO to perfect the information on their website, so the little ol’ lady next door can peek over into Harold’s yard and say, ‘Here are the top three in your area, you should contact one of them.’
Small businesses need to get their information to the little ol’ lady (Google), so she can tell Harold and everyone else she knows (she knows billions of people 😉 ) ‘Here are the top providers in your area, you should contact one of them’.
And this is why your small business can benefit from SEO.
Small businesses, new or old, can get the following benefits from a good SEO strategy:
- Inform more new customers that your business exists by getting the word out far and wide
- Make you stand out from the crowd and grab people’s attention
- Making it easy for potential customers to see and understand what you do
- Tell potential customers how your business can benefit them
- Show potential customers how happy your current customers are
- Allow your business to be compared with known competitors, and come out looking awesome
- Encourage visitors to your website to come back again and take action such as buying products, booking services or contacting you in real life.
- AND the promo of your business doesnt finish like it does when you invest in advertising.
Want to understand how you can get started with SEO? Book in a DIY SEO Training Session with me here.