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SEO Basics for the Small Business Owner: Why Search Engine Optimization Is Essential to Growing Your Small Business

Rank higher in search results and gain more business

Online is the top place where people learn about new businesses. A study of 2,000 American web users found 36.7 percent learn about new businesses through online research. That's more than through word of mouth, social media and walking into a store. If you want your business to be discovered, you need a strategy for increasing your online presence—you need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

 

Today's consumers trust search engines to cultivate the most relevant results for their queries. According to a 2017 study, 80 percent of consumers say a search engine is their top choice to look up information for local businesses. The Google algorithm continues to evolve and update to deliver contextually helpful results, which means there's plenty of opportunity for small businesses to notch valuable results—with the right strategy, of course.

 

Basic SEO tactics include:

 

  • Optimizing website copy with keywords related to your business, presented in a contextually beneficial way
  • Getting your business website linked on other high-quality websites, like blogs or local business listings, which signals to search engines your site is trustworthy and credible
  • Creating content that attracts more users to your site and keeps them engaged on your site

 

A sound SEO strategy helps you appear higher in search results for keywords and phrases related to your business, it exposes your business to a wider audience, and SEO efforts may even help drive website traffic into your sales pipeline. At worst, poor SEO strategy can result in getting banned from search engines, so if you are going to attempt to optimize your small business website, make sure you are doing it right.

 

Here's more information on why SEO needs to be part of your small business growth strategy, plus SEO resources that can help you get started.

 

Why search result rankings matter

The higher you can land in search engine results pages (SERPs), the more likely it is that online searchers will find your website. A 2017 study of 5,000 Google searches by SEO firm Ignite Visibility found:

 

  • The top search result received 20.5 percent of clicks.
  • Results number two and three each received around 13 percent of clicks.
  • The click-through rate number tumbled after the top three results, falling to 5.52 percent of clicks for the ninth result.

 

Land on the second page or beyond in search results, and getting clicks is nearly impossible compared to results on the first page. Your business can increase the likelihood of landing in higher results by applying SEO best practices throughout your website and digital marketing efforts.

 

SEO means better business practices

Optimizing your website for search engines means taking steps to clearly explain what your business is about and address how your solution solves the pain points of searchers. After all, search engines are designed to “read” and interpret websites as humans would to serve up the most appropriate content to their users. As you improve the search results for your business, you inevitably create a better user experience for your leads and customers. Factors that positively affect search results include:

 

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • User-friendly website navigation
  • Relevant and helpful content
  • High-quality websites linking back to yours
  • User engagement (for example, high time spent on page and low bounce rate)
  • Website security and https:// protocol

 

SEO tactics benefit from a strong content marketing strategy and a well-designed website. SEO is an essential component of digital marketing, and its success is dependent on various strategies coming together.

 

Local businesses need local SEO

If your business serves customers in the local community, they'll be searching online to find what your business offers. A study by BrightLocal found 97 percent of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, and 12 percent looked for a local business online every day. Pew Research Center reports half of adults ages 50 and younger regularly check online reviews before making a purchase.

 

A local SEO strategy focuses on getting a high quantity of high-quality reviews on sites like Google My Business, as well as review sites like Yelp and on publications and influencer blogs. When consumers are on-the-go and searching for what you offer, you want to make sure your local business appears in their search results.

 

If you sell online, SEO is essential

You might have an online store in addition to a brick-and-mortar, or your small business may be completely digital. Either way, to drive organic traffic to your ecommerce store, search is key. A 2017 report by SEO platform BrightEdge found 51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, and more than 40 percent of revenue is captured by organic traffic. Even if you run paid ads for a business online, you miss out on huge sales potential if you lack SEO strategy.

 

More than one-third of remaining website traffic comes from “other sources,” which could be publications, blogs, review sites and other sites. SEO strategy involves getting link placement on high-quality sites, which can turn into online sales for your business. Unlike paid ads, which have end dates, SEO efforts can produce ongoing benefits that last for years to come.

 

SEO resources for small business owners

Some small business owners decide to hire an SEO consultant. Others work on SEO in-house, taking on duties themselves or enlisting their marketing team for help. There are many comprehensive online guides you can check out to learn SEO basics and put them to work for your small business. Here are a few SEO resources to get you started:

 

 

Even though search engine algorithms are always changing, they're constantly moving toward a more user-friendly experience for users across devices. By implementing web best practices like responsive design, helpful content creation and a secure browsing experience, you’ll naturally help your SEO efforts. Use an analytics tool like Google Analytics to measure website traffic and monitor how tweaks in your SEO strategy affect your search results. Just keep in mind, however, that results don’t happen overnight; most experts agree that you won’t start seeing a boost in rankings for at least 90 days.

 

Grow your small business with Cadence Bank

Cadence Bank offers merchant tools, services and resources to keep your small business financially healthy and support your growth efforts. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you grow.

 


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.



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