Everybody knows that the market is changing at an unprecedented rate, with the increasing influence of technology, from internet to social media to smart devices. And for small business owners, that means that the playing field has just gotten more competitive—a lot more competitive.
In order to maintain your competitive edge among thousands of like-minded businesses in your niche, you will have to understand how the marketing and communication world works right now, and not hold on to outdated strategies to maintain your position.
One of the most important concepts modern-day small business owners need to understand and utilize is SEO.
If you are a small business owner, knowing about SEO and implementing it into your overall marketing strategy is not optional, its necessary for your long-term survival.
You've probably heard of these three letters before, somewhere, but do you know what they mean and why they are important to the future of your company? If not, keep reading—the well-being of your business depends on it!
What is SEO?
At the basic level, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
The first two words in this definition are "search engine."
A search engine is a program that looks for and identifies specific items based on a searcher's keywords. The most well-known search engine is, of course, Google. But other popular search engines include Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, AOL.com and some foreign engines like Baidu or Yandex.ru.
But did you know that popular sites such as YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook are also considered search engines?
They are—because they allow users to look up specific search terms through their platform. And this is an opportunity for small businesses that you cannot miss.
The third word in SEO, optimization, refers to the way smart business owners create content specifically tailored so that their content, and their website, will show up more prominently on one or more of these search engines.
How do they do that?
Well, the internet is like the world's largest library containing billions of books (websites). Just like how libraries categorize books by the Dewey Decimal System, search engines have specific protocols for looking up relevant information when needed.
These protocols are determined by algorithms, specific processes or sets of rules that are programmed into the engine, to look for specific results. These algorithms scan billions of web pages looking for keywords located in particular places such as in headlines, subheadlines, and links, to tell whether that web page is relevant to the person searching for a specific result.
Search engine algorithms also care about the reputation of sites. They look for websites that have meaty, helpful content, and that are promoted by other reputable sites.
This is where backlinks are important. Search engines are able to see which sites link to other sites and how often. If your web page is linked to by other prominent sites frequently, your own reputation improves, and search engines will boost your content to the front of their queue.
So in order to optimize your site for search engines, you will need to create frequent, high quality content that uses key words (words that people use when they search for products and services that fall in your niche) in the right places, and get other reputable sites to share your content as much as possible.
That is SEO in a nutshell.
Why do you need SEO?
It's critical for businesses to show up high on the list of any search engine, because search engines generate millions of results per search term, and most users are not willing to scroll down very far to look for the answer to their problems.
For instance, say you are a landscaping company. Without SEO, your website and advertisements might feature on the seventh page of Google. That means, anyone looking up "landscaping companies in my area" will never see your website or give you a chance to promote your services to them.
You could have the most attractive deals, the cleverest advertisements, and the best service available, but all of that is useless if you cannot tell people about it.
And with more and more people getting their information from online sources—Google, social media, etc.—SEO is a must-have for any business, small or large. Even word of mouth, the most powerful form of advertising, takes place online nowadays, with social media and rating sites like Yelp.
Having the right SEO strategy increases traffic and publicity. If you offer valuable information and make it easy for search engines to find and index it, you will make it easy for prospective clients to find and buy from you.
How to develop your SEO strategy
Becoming a master of SEO is simple, but not easy. First, you will have to research keywords to find out which hot button words are the most-searched words related to your business.
You will need to understand your competition, plan and optimize your website (for mobile responsiveness), regularly create high-quality relevant content using the keywords you have researched, and then promote that content through social media and other channels.
You'll also need a way to analyze your results, and master the use of Google Analytics, so that you can refine your strategy as the internet continues to grow and evolve.
If all of that sounds hopelessly complicated, never fear! Here at HIVE Digital Strategy, we are masters at tailoring SEO for each individual business, maximizing the power of this strategy to help you achieve unprecedented results.
It doesn't matter if you know nothing about SEO or other digital/online marketing strategies. We have the experts, the experience, and the tools to launch you and your business before millions of potential customers.
We are an inbound marketing company, and we're in the business of turning people into visitors, then leads, then customers and promoters for businesses in all industries—including yours! We are not only experts in SEO, we also know how to work with website design, social media marketing, blogging, landing pages, and more!
Whatever your digital marketing needs, we are here to help you. Don't forget to contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find customers and grow your business. We offer free consultations with Inbound Marketing Strategists. So don't delay, contact us today!