As per latest statistics, there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US, which accounts for 99.9 % of all US businesses that drives 90% of global economic growth.
Over 70% of US small businesses shut down in March 2020 when the US became the new epicenter of the virus. More than 60% of these small businesses that closed were due to government or health authority orders, as large parts of the country went into lock down in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The small businesses which survived were the ones that adapted to the new reality by increasing their online activities. In fact, more than half (51%) say that they have increased the interactions they have with their clients over the internet. Additionally, 36% of personal businesses who use online tools are now also doing all their sales online.
- 97% of people learn more about a local small business online than anywhere else (Source: SEO Tribunal). People are searching for your business (or products/services you sell), and your website is the place where they will look first. That’s why it’s important to show up on the terms they use.
- 75% of searchers never go past the first page of search results (Source: HubSpot)
- Pages ranking 1 through 3 on search engine results pages (SERPs) generate a click through rate of 36% (Source: Searchmetrics)
- 46% of all searches on Google are for a local business or local service (Source: Search Engine Roundtable)
- “Near me” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years (Source: Chat Meter). This is another important reason to optimize your local search efforts. People are looking for small businesses in the area.
- After searching on a smartphone for something nearby, 76% of people end up visiting the business within 1 day (Source: Google)
There are still a lot of small business owners who believe that SEO is an unnecessary expense. You may even believe it is not worth your time and effort because SEO is dying anyway — but this could not be further from the truth. SEO is constantly growing in importance and expanding into new areas. Before, it played a major role for large and midsize businesses. Now it is just as crucial for small businesses.
What Is SEO?
Just by knowing the keywords, most people think that they know SEO. Keywords, tags, contents, titles etc. play a big part of SEO. But there are many other factors involved. SEO can be sliced and diced in few ways
- On-Page SEO: Primarily focuses on optimizing a website contents and structure which will help rank higher on search engine result page (SERP). The optimization generally includes header and title tags, images, meta description, formatting, URLs, navigation, load speed, on-site blogging and responsive design.
- Off-Page SEO: This is majorly building the backlinks. Backlinks are links form your site to other websites and vice a versa. This category also encompasses social media, business profiles and articles.
- Technical SEO: This is another area which most people ignore mentioning but is a critical part to get better ranking and more traffic. It includes performance of your website, mobile friendliness, visibility etc. You should make sure you’re using HTTPS, a known ranking factor in search engines. This offers encryption that keeps data passed through your site secure, including potentially sensitive customer data.
Another way to view SEO is by geography
- Local SEO: You target your SEO for a specific geography and for small businesses, you need to be top of your SERP for your area. Existence of your Google business profile will get better visibility on maps and searches.
- Enterprise SEO: Small businesses generally target local, but you can expand your reach to one state or multiple depending on the product and services you offer. The optimization strategies are different in this case which covers large transactions and volumes.
How To Get Started With SEO
Now we know that SEO is a valuable marketing tool that drives organic traffic. You can surely start with getting the basics done by yourself and bring in an SEO professional to take it to next level.
Baseline Setup: Set up your analytics account. Set up reporting view in your property (website). Add the small code snippet provided by analytics to your website. This allows Google to collect the data and you are ready to get the baseline details. You can set up similar thing for Bing.
Keyword Research: This is the heart and soul of any SEO. Identifying target keywords that align with your website content and match your target audience’s search intent is an important step. You should conduct a thorough keyword research to create an exhaustive list. Chose the best ones; quality is more important than quantity when it comes to keyword performance.
Building Links: This is critical part of your off-page optimization as search engines prioritize content that is valuable to end user. Don’t use the black hat techniques these are nothing but low-quality methods and spam. Instead, follow Google’s EAT principle: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Keywords Optimization: Once the keywords are identified, you can start adding keywords naturally and strategically to the entire website (in the code and the content). Just follow some basics when you do that
- Include Primary keyword in H1 Tags
- Include Primary keywords in title tags and meta description
- Include Long tail keyword in the contents
- Add secondary keyword along with primary for wider coverage
- Include Rich content, images, and video
- Make sure to remove old and duplicate contents
Social Media Presence and Posting: Social media is an ideal place to share content from your website or blog to drive traffic to your site. You need to post regularly and interact with users. Apart from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, consider TikTok as it is upcoming platform for businesses.
Check the Progress: Continue to monitor keywords performance and traffic to your website.
Repeat the Process: This is not a onetime process. Make sure to revisit every month to review and adapt to the market conditions, competitors, trends, user behaviors and pattern, new products/technology etc.
How do I know if my SEO is working?
Google Analytics is your best friend, and it will provide most of the information for you. Apart from that you can search your business on Google and check your ranking periodically.