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.