This is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an extremely valuable channel for many small businesses.
I've met with many small business owners who are passionate about their business and who are looking for every opportunity to grow. I understand how important it is for those owners to make smart, educated decisions when it comes to their marketing dollars. Every business must choose the best avenue for them.
Having said that, a strategic online marketing approach should always be considered. Online marketing includes:
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
- Pay-Per-Click (Paid Search)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Display/Banner Advertising
- Affiliate Marketing
- Mobile Advertising
- Social Media Marketing (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, etc)
- And Beyond...
Where does SEO rank?
As a business owner considers all the options, it comes down to which channel produces the best return. For many, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a no-brainer because of the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to initially optimize a website that hasn't been optimized.
For anyone who is unfamiliar, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of targeting specific keywords that relate to a product/service (i.e. furniture, TVs, windows, business consulting, etc.) and taking actions to assure the search engines relate those specific keywords to your website/business. It's a "free" way to have your website show up in the search engines and in the long-run it is very valuable because they are "organic" listings...no one paid to get there.
The job of the search engines is to present the most relevant results for any search a user does. Someone typing a word or phrase into Google is going to find resources that have to do with that word or phrase. That is why Google has become the most visited website on the Internet with 91 million searches a day.
People use Google and other search engines as research tools for anything and everything. These days any form of traditional marketing (TV, radio, billboards, etc.) direct people to the Internet. Obviously, any business is going to want to be a part of this opportunity to beat out competitors and gain market share.
Once the initial steps are taken to optimize for specific keywords, the stage is set. It may take a few weeks to see results from SEO efforts because the search engines "index" websites at random times but it certainly allows a business to start competing for market share online.
The main goal is to reach the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) because a high percentage of users don't go beyond the first page (usually 10 listings). The goal after reaching the first page is to reach the TOP of the first page because even more users click on the first 3 or 4 results...mostly because they know that the search engine is saying "these websites are the most credible and relevant matches for what you searched". The value of these rankings comes from driving visitors to your site instead of to your competitors' sites.
Where to Start?
By hiring us, of course! No, but seriously...the process of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not rocket science but it does take a good amount of research, preparation, and experience to become effective. It is very much possible for a website/business owner to take steps to optimize his/her website, it just takes the right knowledge and direction.
I make the analogy that anyone can figure out how to cook a certain meal but to have it done to perfection takes experience and know-how...which is why top chefs are paid so much these days and have TV shows on every channel!
To conclude, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an extremely valuable channel for many small businesses...it just depends on what the overall goals are and if it produces the appropriate return for what resources are put in (just like any other marketing channel). I encourage small business owners to educate themselves on the SEO process and find out what it can accomplish for them.