If you are like most small business owners, you are probably strapped for time and cautious about the money you invest in marketing. However a website without search engine optimization (SEO) is no better than a flyer or business card that you only deliver to people that you already know, or already know of your services.
An optimized website will bring you new customers that are looking for your product or services at that exact moment. When done correctly, SEO has the lowest cost per sale/lead of any marketing initiative and gives small businesses the chance to compete with the big boys.
Why should you care about SEO?
- Search and email are the top two internet activities
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine
- There are over 100 billion searches being conducted each month
- 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results
- Over 50% of all clicks go to the top 3 positions on Google
Not only have the search engines replaced the yellow pages as the primary source to find and contact a business, they are also the entry point for exploring a potential purchase (brands, costs, ratings, etc.). You cannot afford to leave your search engine placement to chance. In fact, Google updates its algorithm (the basis for how your site is ranked) up to 500 times per year. This requires proactive management.
For many businesses, it makes sense to invest in professional SEO services. However, businesses can take steps to improve their search engine placement. Here are the top three you should act on today:
1. Set up Google Webmaster’s Tool (www.google.com/webmasters/tools/). Setting up this account will allow you to see your website from Google’s eye and provide invaluable information.
2. Set up Google Plus Local (https://plus.google.com/). These are listing associated with a location on Google’s map. This is especially important with the rise of searches from mobile devices with a known location.
3. Do Keyword Research. Brainstorm keywords you think a customer might type in to find you. Then go to Google and start to type them into the search box. Write down any relevant keywords Google suggests. Now take all of these keywords and go to a free tool like http://www.keyworddiscovery.com and see how popular each one is. Prioritize and write content to appeal to the most important searches.
Chad Hallert is Strategy Director at Noble Studios and VP of eCommerce at NCET.