Should your small business worry about SEO?

If you’ve got a website and are running a small business online, chances are you know at least a little about search engine optimization (SEO). By implementing the following SEO activities, you boost your chances of appearing on the first page of Google or Bing:

  • A keyword strategy
  • Correct header and image tags
  • Internal and external links
  • New content
  • (to name just the essentials)

However, while SEO certainly creates results, it is definitely a long game. Even with all the best practice in place, it can still take, on average, 4-6 months for SEO to start paying off. That involves a lot of hard work either optimizing your pages yourself, or paying for an external agency to do it for you. And in certain sectors, where you’re competing against giants or millions of other small businesses, it can be even harder to stand out.

So, should your small business worry about SEO? The answer: it depends.

What’s your ambition?

First off, before investing time and money into SEO, you need to be clear what your ambition is. SEO is a vital tactic for companies that are aiming to expand and grow their presence online. These companies need to produce lots of content, win backlinks and boost their reputation, and also make it easy for potential customers to find them.

On the other hand, if you aim to treat your company as a ‘lifestyle business’ or simply aim to work as a solopreneur long term, there are likely a number of cheaper, more effective ways to market your brand.

For more growth hacking tips, read our blog on lead gen for small businesses.

Is it the best marketing strategy for what you do?

There’s any number of SEO agencies out there who will promise that SEO is the answer to all your problems and will make you a millionaire. And, this can be true. However, SEO isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Many companies have successfully marketed themselves without using SEO at all and won countless new customers with anything from paid ads to networking to social media marketing.

In some sectors, more ‘traditional’ marketing tactics will make more sense. Say you’re a masseuse who offers your services to office workers in Seattle. Printing out fliers and dropping them off at the receptions of office buildings in the city will likely pay off way more than trying to get on page one for a search term like ‘Seattle office massage’. The point is, don’t buy into the SEO hype – instead, think about what marketing activities will have an impact on your customers.

Whether you feel SEO is right for your business or not, it’s still worth following basic best practices – these are free and not very time consuming. And, if you decide SEO is right for you later on, you’ll have the foundations in place already. Moz’s beginners guide to SEO is a good starter.

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Len is a tech and business writer who covers small business and startup advice and has appeared in many print and digital publications. He lives in London, UK, where he's also a sub editor on a national newspaper. He loves to travel and has lived in France, Spain, Senegal and Rwanda.

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What’s Your Web Traffic Like?

Most clients who I talk to have Google Analytics hooked up to their site. My typical client, never looks at it, and those who do scan some top line numbers, like visits, new traffic and time spent on the site. What they don’t realize is if they dig a bit deeper in their web traffic, there is a wealth of advice waiting to be had in Google Analytics


I want to break down a client of mine’s web traffic for you. So far this month my client has seen 1,569 sessions on their web site. The traffic is meeting their expectations, but the conversions are lower than expected. So we jumped into Google Analytics to see if we could understand what’s going on.

Behavior Flow

We started off looking at Behavior Flow. This client is getting traffic from social media campaigns, email campaigns, and organic traffic, and Behavior Flow shows us what people do when they arrive on the site, based on the traffic source. We saw pretty quickly that their email recipients were much more likely to stay on the site, and click through to the inner pages that we needed.

The social media people, however, were floundering. Nearly 90% didn’t click on anything, and of those who did, we were seeing just a handful arrive at our registration page. Our first impression was that we needed to re-evaluate our social campaign, because if 90% are dropping off, we’re probably missing our target market.

Acquisition

Our next stop was the acquisition tab, where we looked at how our social media campaigns were performing. Our campaign URLs all have UTM codes, so it was pretty simple to see which campaigns were bringing in traffic that led to conversions, and which campaigns were total duds.

Acquisition was helping confirm our suspicion that we needed to adjust some things in our social media campaign. However, it was more nuanced than our initial impression. Our campaigns were all targeting the same audience, and since some were more successful than others, it seemed that the issue wasn’t our target audience, but was probably ensuring that the messaging in the ads was supported by the landing page. Canceling or adjusting some social media creatives would probably increase conversions.

Device

Our last stop flipped all our thinking. We compared the difference between our mobile and desktop traffic. Our web traffic was 53% desktop, 47% mobile, but our conversions were 85% desktop, 15% mobile.

We looked deeper and found that nearly 80% of our social media traffic was coming in on mobile devices, and 90% of them were dropping off without clicking a single thing. When we compared social mobile traffic to email mobile traffic, we found the same low conversion rates. However, most of our email recipients are older, and they were arriving to the site via desktop, not mobile.

It was clear that while we needed to adjust some of the campaigns, the real issue here was the mobile experience. My client has a responsive site, but the mobile site loads slowly, and the user experience was never really considered. It was basically a modified version of the desktop site.

Now, my client has a decision to make. They can stop advertising on channels that cater to mobile users, and keep their website as is. Or they can completely rethink the mobile experience, and deliver mobile-friendly content to their mobile visitors.

As the world moves more and more mobile, it should be an easy decision to make.

How To Create Your First Hot Traffic Campaign

In the previous two articles we discussed cold traffic and warm traffic ad campaigns. If you haven’t already, jump over to those articles to get caught up.

(pro tip: hold down CTRL when you click the links to have them open in a new tab while still staying on this screen)

Now we are going to dive into Hot Traffic Ad Campaigns. This is the shortest section of the three and the last part of our funnel. Here we are going to re-market through the funnel to turn one-time buyers into multi-buyers.

Created byRobert McMillin

What’s the definition of Hot Traffic?

Mine is: “They know you, they like you and they have ‘shopped’ you before.”

If you’ve heard of the “Pareto Principle” you’ll be familiar with the 80/20 concept. Eighty percent of results will come from twenty percent of your actions. The principle applies to many things and here it applies to your customers. If you retarget throughout your funnel you’ll find that twenty percent of your customers or leads will account for eighty percent of your revenue.

This may be the shortest section in the series but it is, in my opinion, the most important.

One of the hardest things you’ll do is capture new customers for your business. One of the stupidest things many businesses do is they sell then abandon that customer in the pipeline, mark them as a conversion and move on to fresh leads.

That’s a mistake.

Many customers, once you’ve created authority and provided exceptional value, would be all too happy to purchase from you again.

Consider it for a moment…

You’ve done the hardest part. You’ve gotten them to (along with a few other things) take their credit card out of their pocket, put their info into your payment form and checkout.

Why would you not leverage this to provide more value, ascend the customer to a multi-buyer and create a scalable and repeatable process for increasing your customers lifetime value?

After considering you’re now faced with another question…

Will my business do the stupidest thing (not retarget throughout the funnel) after they’ve already done the hardest thing (capture and convert new leads into customers)?

When the it’s framed like that the answer is an obvious “no”, right? With that said…

Let’s get started with your Hot Traffic Ad campaign setup

Step 1: Navigate to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and export a list of your buyers in a Comma-Separated Values (CSV) spreadsheet. All customer relationship management software has the option to export a list of your buyers

Step 2: Head over to your Facebook Ads Manager and navigate to “Audiences” like in the image below.

Facebook ads manager

Step 3: Once you’ve navigated to the “Audience” section of your Facebook Ads dashboard click “Create Audience” and select “Custom Audience” (like in the Warm Traffic Campaign) See the image below for more details.

Custom Audience

Step 4: Here’s what we’re going to do different than what we did in the Warm Traffic Campaign. We’re going to create a custom audience using the “Customer File” option. Here we’ll upload the comma-separated values (CSV) sheet to Facebook.

Here you will match the fields (First Name, Last Name, Email etc.) of your customer file. Facebook will then create a custom audience and match that data with those users on Facebook. This allows you to retarget and market to your known buyers on Facebook and gives you the opportunity to turn them into multi-buyers.

Bonus: Depending on your volume. You will be able to also create a lookalike audience of buyers. You won’t be targeting them for your multi-buyer campaign, because they are, after all, not yet buyers. However, they have a high likelihood of being buyers in the future based on the fact they are very similar to your known buyers. These would be great candidates for your Cold and Warm traffic campaigns and will have a higher probability of converting.

The Hot Traffic Offer

Our goal is to turn our hot traffic into repeat buyers. You’ve probably guessed that we’re going to be offering them additional products or services.

As an example, you sell a physical product. We’ll say it is XYZ Salad Dressing.

You know that the average person will consume the entire bottle within two and a half months. So, you could take your customer list (from Step 1), upload it to Facebook, and run an ad that says something like this…

“Did life get in the way? You forgot to re-order your XYZ Salad Dressing! Here’s 10% OFF your next bottle on us. Click Here.”

Or (still using salad dressing as an example)

“180 Times Better – Your favorite Salad Dressing just got even better! We’ve put together over 180 recipes you can make in less than 5 minutes. You’ve already got the secret ingredient, now it’s time to get the recipes! Claim your discounted Recipe eBook for $29.95 $9.95 – Limited Time Only”

You may be saying “Robert, hold up, I only have one product, what am I supposed to offer them”. If you’re wondering that very thing, my advice is to create another product. I’m positive that you and your team could at a minimum create an eBook and offer it for sale in less than a week.

Defining Success Metrics:

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): They purchase something. (or cost per lead if you are sending hot traffic to a landing page as covered in the Warm Traffic Campaign guide)

  • Ad Objective: Repeat Buyers
  • Content/Offer: Retarget Through the Funnel
  • Success Metric(s): Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Bidding: Slightly higher than suggested bid
  • Budget: $5-$10 per day (as an example)
  • Target Audience: Previous Buyers (customer file)

To Break it Down For Ya….

Targeting: Customer file (CSV) containing your known buyers.

Content/Offer: You will be retargeting them via ads to purchase additional products or services.

Budget: In the land grab for customers this can be your lowest investment. I would recommend spending more on the cold and warm traffic campaigns and keeping a consistently operating low budget campaign running for your buyer list.

Success Metric: Straightforward. Do they buy or do they not and what is the cost to per sale (or acquisition). So, your success metric here will be Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

For more guides and actionable digital marketing advice visit robertmcmillin.com or book me on my Book Like A Boss page for a free 15 minute consultation.