Many small businesses, especially those with limited marketing budgets, treat search engine marketing as an afterthought. It’s where they focus their energy after they’re done with their print advertising, direct mail or classified ad campaigns. More than half of small business owners don’t even maintain a regularly updated website, never mind using SEO to make that website visible.
Those small business owners don’t realize what they’re missing out on. When it comes to researching products, 61% of consumers research those products online before they buy. SEO gives your company something that all those other marketing platforms can’t. It gives you access to customers who are already actively seeking out a business like yours. With SEO, the person finding your business’ website is finding it because they’re looking for the specific product or service related keyword you targeted.
So why don’t small businesses invest more in SEO? There are several reasons.
Lack of understanding – The phrase ‘search engine optimization’ can be a mystifying term. Learning things about keyword placement, page rank and content marketing can be confusing. Business owners who work in markets outside the technology sector might not have the knowledge to manage their own SEO.
Lack of time – Keeping a site and social media pages optimized for search engines is an ongoing and time consuming process. Managing SEO requires staying up to date with changes in algorithms and consistently putting out new content. Small businesses without their own marketing departments simply don’t have the time to manage their own SEO campaign
Lack of results – Many companies might try to start their own SEO campaign, and then give up when they realize that campaign isn’t giving them immediate results. It’s important to understand that SEO is a long-term strategy, and not one that leads to instant gratification. In addition, the people who manage their own SEO usually don’t have the expertise needed to create an effective campaign.
With the right experts, all three of the above problems become a nonissue. Companies that have a successful SEO campaign, usually run by a marketing firm that specializes in SEO, can see the following benefits.
1. Higher ROI on Your Marketing
Traditional marketing costs about 61% more than search engine marketing. This is because traditional marketing is not as targeted as search engine marketing. With traditional marketing, there is no guarantee that your mail will get opened, or that people won’t skip your commercials. The results are usually the opposite. 44% of people never open direct mail, while 86% of people skip television ads. Search engine optimization has a 14.6% close rate; as compared to the 1.7% close rate you’ll get from outbound marketing.
2. Creating Customer Loyalty
Another benefit that SEO marketing has is the ability to create customer loyalty. People don’t like being interrupted. They don’t like television commercials that interrupt their programs and they don’t like having a mailbox full of unsolicited mail. When your first interaction with a customer is outbound marketing, they either won’t remember you, or they’ll associate you with something they didn’t ask for or don’t need.
Search engine marketing is different. When people search for a product or the answer to a question, and they find your page, your company becomes the company that gave them what they were looking for. A good first impression is the key to customer loyalty. Loyal customers are good customers not just because they’ll spend more at your business but also because they’ll recommend your business to others.
3. Provides an Expanded Pool of Customers, Including Global Customers
All small businesses have one goal in common: to expand their reach to new customers. With outbound marketing, this leaves small businesses bound, at least initially to their local community. Regardless of how large, this well of potential clients will eventually dry up, leaving a business totally at the mercy of their existing clientele unless they expand. The Internet is a global marketplace and there are 3 billion people online. With SEO, a business can adjust their campaign to target users in various communities, through both global and local SEO. This creates a virtually endless reserve of potential customers.
4. Not Having an SEO Campaign Puts You Behind Your Competition
If you don’t have an SEO campaign, then every time someone looks for a business like yours on the Internet, they’re finding the site of one of your competitors. SEO can even the playing field for smaller businesses competing with big names, as it can drive local business to your site.
SEO remains the best marketing channel for small businesses, but it only works if it’s used correctly and consistently. If you use the right company to manage your SEO campaign, you can see many benefits. The biggest benefit of all would be a new base of motivated customers, who will keep returning to your company website time and time again.