Have you got a small business and are looking to start a SEO campaign with an agency. Have you got lots of questions? Are you unfamiliar with he SEO landscape? Are you confused by all the geek speak and SEO jargon? Following is a helpful starters guide to SEO for all small businesses wanting to get better Google rankings.
Owning a small business is tough work. So many of them fail in the first year and even established businesses go under unless they are able to move along with the times and adapt to changing technologies.
Being competitive online and ranking on Google is one way businesses especially, small businesses can attract new clients and survive the first tenuous years. Larger established businesses should also take note because their foothold and dominance may be short lived if they are unable to roll with the times and start utilising search engines and the power they have wield to secure new clients.
In this blog I would like to highlight SEO as a very powerful marketing mechanism for small to medium sized businesses and how they must incorporate SEO into their marketing mix. Essentially, it’s do or die unless they are willing to accept the fact that SEO is the most important marketing tool for their business. I will tell you everything I know as I have helped literally hundreds of small businesses with their SEO and ensured their survival and profitability through being dominant on Google.
My aim here is to give you all the artillery and information you need to that when you do decide to choose and SEO company you make the right decision. Whether you decide to take a DIY approach to SEO or outsource it to an agency, this information should be front and centre as a reference at all times. Don’t make the mistake many businesses make by going into this blindly and making some terrible mistakes. I have over 22 years experience in this industry so it should allow me to speak with a certain level of authority.
Firstly its important you know what SEO is.
SEO is so many elements of your business but if you break it down to it’s raw format it’s basically getting your website high on the Google rankings for your main core keywords. Logic being, the higher up for are the more website visitors you will get and in turn the larger volume of sales calls or inquiries you are likely to receive. This is how businesses can use SEO for their benefit.
As I stated SEO is only one element in the equation of business success. There are so many other elements you need to be concentration on such as: conversion rate optimisation, Google analytics, content marketing, user experience and journey as well as bounce rates and being Google compliant. It’s a real mixed bag here with so many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that really need to come together if it’s going to work effectively for you. This is why we urge you not to take a DIY approach to SEO or see if a friend or relative can do this for you on the side soy save a few dollars.
This approach no longer works as the digital landscape is evolving and change so quickly. The real question you should be asking yourself as a business owner is: ‘do I want to be left behind or do I want to remain competitive in the digital / web space’? I know what I would be saying. Sure, lets go for it and do as much as we can to drive business.
For small business owners you need to understand these critical areas:
1.Website. This is the most important marketing tool you can have and it’s like your shop front to the world. This is the first thing you need and make sure you get it done properly.
2. Website content. Everything on your website needs to be written professionally and be geared towards your target audience. Never ever plagiarise or steal content from someone else website no matter how tempting this maybe.
3. Blogging. make sure you start a blog on your website and continually publish content – exactly the same way as I am doing on this website
4. On page SEO. This is the term used for all that is visible to the public on your website. You have to be Google compliant with everything that is on your website. This must be dome by and SEO agency. Never overlook this step as you On Page SEO is what’s going to help rank your site.
5. Local SEO. Vital especially for small business as you need to build up a presence online in your local area. Thesis done through a process called citations and is the process of registering your site on all the main vocal business directories. Easy enough to do and should be one of the first things you ever do.
6. Link building. This is related to your rankings and covers what is termed ‘off page’SEO and is really what drives your rankings. This again, like so many aspects of your digital marketing strategy should only be done by professionals who know how to link build in a Google compliant manner. If this is done incorrectly the consequences for your business are dire. Be warned!
7. Case studies. Add credibility to your website through cases studies, image galleries and keeping your portfolio updated.
SEO as you can probably gather is really complicated especially for small business owners who have never even heard of SEO before. It can actually be quite intimidating. But, to break it down all you need is a good website with great copy and a SEO agency working for you that knows how to back link. Simple as that! Well, not really unfortunately. because there are a whole bunch of SEO cowboys out there that are eager to say anything to you and quote dirt cheap prices to get your business. These guys are known as ‘ black hat’ SEO companies and are the very worst of the worst in the digital space. The problem here is that they ave really slick sounding sales people who will say exactly what you want to hear and promise you riches beyond your wildest expectations all for a really cheap fee. Don’t ever get caught in this trap. This is small business quick sand and you can easily drown if you are not armed with the next bit of information.
Choosing the right SEO agency
Before you even contemplate handing an SEO agency the keys to your palace there are some really important questions you should be asking them. If they stutter or don’t know the answer this is a sign that you are dealing with novices alas a bunch of ‘black hatters’.
1. What strategy will you use to improve my organic SEO rankings? That should be answering with words like keyword diverse link building and slow organic growth rates. Complicated I know, but just on the lookout for this. Perhaps even ask them about this and see if they know what your talking about.
2.What area of SEO do you specialise in. There are so many diverse areas that they need to be able to cover off at least; local SEO, conversion rate optimisation and the use experience. Your future SEO agency must intact be a full digital agency that can not only do link building but can also diagnose your website traffic through analytics and make concrete suggestions on ways to improve your overall site performance and customer experience. Even for a small business this is necessary. After all, you want people who come to your site to buy from it or make a simple inquiry. The customers experience and how they interact with the site is now really important. Your SEO agency should have answers to all of these questions. make sure they give you examples as well.
3. What type of jobs will you be working on each month and what type of reporting back to me will you provide? Also, who will I be dealing with? Is there an allocated account am manger or will I be dealing with a different person each and every time?
4. What are your link building strategies and how do you intend to get links from other high authority sites back to my site? This is a really important question as many SEO companies will skim over this part as this is really the meat in the sandwich. Why? Because the best way to get a sustainable and high Google ranking is by having other trustworthy websites link back to your site.
This is the BEST WAY to outrank your competition and a lot of companies will not do this as it can get expensive especially if it costs money to obtain these links. Remember, SEO costs money and can be expensive if your in a competitive small business niche. This is includes, lawyers, doctors, cosmetic surgeons, plumbers. electricians, rubbish removals, gardeners, asbestos removal, packaging, clothing, food etc. All these are small businesses and are seriously competitive spaces especially on Google. Therefore, to rank effectively you need to have high domain websites linking to your site and this will cost. Paying next nothing for your SEO will not reap the type of results you were promised over the phone. This I can guarantee you. I see so many people who have gone down the path of trying to save a penny or two only to wind up being in a worse off position than when they started.
5. Make sure they can provide you with case studies of past successes. Go and test this out by doing your own search and see if they are telling the truth.
6. What type of metrics do you use to track my websites performance? Ideally you want to know what software they are using to measure your keywords rankings. Make sure they also tell you the number of organic search results and traffic you are getting your site for each individual keyword. So for example if they are spending a whole bunch of time focusing on 1 keyword that’s delivering small amounts of traffic it’s probably a good idea to ditch it and look for others that are more highly searched. After all, you want quality visitors to your site and this can only be determined though your SEO reports. So many agencies will ignore this fact and boast that they have 100’s of keywords on page 1 for you. This is not always good as these are not you main core ‘money’ keywords. If your a plumber in Manly, you want to be ranking for the local keyword search plumbers in Manly. Anything else is simply superfluous and fluff!
Can small businesses do SEO themselves?
Absolutely! But, there is a downside. If you haven’t a clue about SEO or you have done a bit of reading and feel that you are now equipped with enough information to tackle it yourself; watch out!
SEO is difficult, in fact it’s really tough. Google is forever shifting it’s ranking algorithm so unless you are up to speed on the latest changes (most likely you won’t have the time for this as you running your business etc) then my advice is leave it to the experts. Once they have you ranked you will be getting so much business that you will be tankful that you spent the time researching for a credible and trustworthy SEO agency and you have been prepared to pay them accordingly for their invaluable service.
That’s about it. If you have managed to read through this and fully get what I’m trying to say then full kudos to you. If you are still as mystified about SEO as when you started reading this blog give us a call anytime and I would be more than happy to explain the nuances and intricacies of SEO. Remember, this is your livelihood. It’s your business and you want it to be successful so make the right choice here and now.