- The first half of 2020 was an anomaly for internet usage, but the trend has been steady: people continue to spend more and more time online worldwide.
- If you think of the internet as a row of storefronts, SEO helps you get into prime locations.
- SEO can be more cost-effective than digital ads if you invest in it as a long-term strategy.
How are your books looking after the chaos that 2020 has caused for small businesses? Maybe things hadn’t been the peachiest even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, but if you’re still fighting that fight so far then good for you – you’re obviously a hardy survivor. But what’s going to flip the script moving forward and turn you into a thriver? Nobody starts their own enterprise with the goal of juggling creditors, developing an allergic reaction to hearing from the bank, or struggling to pay staff. That’s not the dream you signed up for.
So how can things be different? What’s the long-term path to actual, comfortable success that you can afford? Well, when it comes to digital marketing, it’s search engine optimization (SEO). The massive surge of shoppers moving online due to Covid restrictions (some industries have seen year-on-year sales growth of up to 90%) will level out, but the stage has already been set. The digital sphere can pretty much count as the whole sphere for lots of people, and that’s not changing any time soon.
Some important things to know about the current state of SEO:
- Over 90% of the US is online, which equates to more than 310 million people
- Google alone sees an average of about 3.5 billion searches a day
- 16% of all shopping in the US (worth over $600 billion) was online in 2019
- SEO leads have a close rate of nearly 15% while outbound marketing is less than 2%
- Best of all, SEO can be 100% free
So, what’s the pitch? The stats look pretty, but what do they mean for your bottom line? Is good SEO really the long-term path to business success? Let’s take a look at five of the biggest reasons why it might just be.
Five reasons why every struggling business needs SEO
1. Everyone’s online. SEO will let them see you.
It’s a basic point, but one that can’t be stressed enough. The average American spends 24 hours a week or over three hours a day online.
The internet is the new Main Street: it’s where people hang out and meet their friends, it’s where they window shop to see what’s about, and it’s absolutely where they go to get what they need in a hurry. The first half of 2020 might have been an anomaly for internet usage, but the continuous trend has been steady. Everyone’s online and they’re spending more and more time there too.
For virtually any business, that can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. So, you’ve been struggling to get the walk-ins or online ads have been just about breaking even in ROI? When we understand that a search engine results page is just like a row of stores, it becomes clear that the best position will mean more business.
And how do you get that prime location? SEO.
The world might have gone online, but the dynamics are still the same, if people want something, chances are they’ll go to get it in the first few places they see. You’re not going to go into 17 different hardware stores to buy a drill – you’ll check out two or three, presume that’s roughly what the price is, and go for it.
It’s the same online. The top three results have a 75% click-through rate, with the vast majority of people never going past page 1. The trick is getting up there.
2. SEO lets small businesses compete with the big guns.
Say you’re a small pizza restaurant. You make a great homemade product and everyone loves the cozy neighborhood feel of the place. But footfall and deliveries have been static for a couple of years while overheads have gone up. Advertising is the obvious way to boost revenue, but can you really hope to compete with the big chains that also exist within a 10-mile radius? Online, for example, there are only three spaces at the top of Google’s search engine results page for ads, but Pizza Adobe, Papa Joe’s and Checker’s Pizza – all national franchises – just gobble up that ad market and there’s no way you can compete.
Where you can compete, however, is on local SEO. You’re specific to your area while most of those outlets can’t or don’t have individual local pages. That means that when a user searches for something in your local area, after the ads, Google points them to something in the vicinity. If you’ve got your local SEO on point, that’s going to be you.
3. You’re spending time on building a site that no one gets to see.
An astonishing internet fact is that 90% of web pages never get an organic search click. That means they just sit there, unvisited and unloved, talking into the void where no one will ever hear them. This is like getting a local artist to come up with an awesome new sign for your premises, then putting it over the door that backs onto the alley with the dumpsters rather than your main entrance.
We’re sure you’ve got a great product and business proposition. You’ve put your heart and soul into a trade that’s your passion, so why not get that information in front of as many people as possible?
4. Price-wise, there’s no comparison between SEO and online advertising.
If there’s one thing any struggling business needs to look after, it’s cash. Every dollar can be an investment: in stock, marketing, a new paint job for the store. When looking for bang for your buck, there’s really no comparison between the returns from solid SEO and standard online ads.
With Google Ads, some industries – like garden and homeware – might be $2 per click, though this can rise to as much as $20 for the insurance industry. Compare this to writing 800 words yourself or even paying someone $100 to do it. With the ads, once your budget’s gone, the ad’s gone – so you better hope you made money from those clicks.
With a solid SEO-focused article, on the other hand, you’ve created an asset that’s always going to be there. With the right work, that article can be cropping up for several keywords for the next five years or more, raking in hundreds or thousands of clicks. This means that one article costing $100 that gets just 1,000 clicks has a cost per click (CPC) of just $0.10, and it’s still out there “earning” money for you. Even better, if you chose the DIY option, your CPC is an accounts-friendly $0. It’s hard to get a better proposition than that.
While there’s definitely a place for online ads in any holistic digital marketing campaign, as we’ve looked at before, the long-term investment strategy that can turn a business that’s struggling month-to-month into one that’s comfortably taking off is SEO.
5. Search engines reward sincerity and knowledge.
Google makes big changes to its algorithms every few years and is constantly making tweaks to how it ranks websites.
That’s not just to annoy people whose job it is to promote websites – it’s actually at once altruistic and selfish. Google (and Bing and Yahoo) want people to find exactly what they’re looking for and have a nice time while doing it, as that means they’ll trust the search engine and use it again. So, since its foundation, Google has used the power of its algorithm to force website owners to create a better experience.
If your page has no info but just lots of links to it from elsewhere, that’s no good, so you’re punished. If your photos are too large and take too long to load, that gets punished too. If your site is complicated and users can’t find their way around it, well, that gets punished. If you don’t give users what they’re looking for… you get the idea.
While this might seem like search engines are dealing out a lot of punishment, what it actually means is that if you decide to sit down and write a few hundred words on one of your favorite products in your business or how you do a certain task, Google will love that, as that’s what users want. They don’t want tricks and loopholes that make the experience worse – they want knowledgeable thought leaders who know what they’re talking about. For small business owners who are passionate about what they do, that means that if you just talk about what you do best, you’ll actually be gaining serious SEO capital.Building a sustainable and successful long-term SEO strategy can be the key to upgrading your small business from surviving to thriving. At Redefine Marketing, we love SEO and can’t stop talking about it – so dropping us a line to ask your SEO questions would be like doing us a service. Any time you fancy talking SEO or any other aspect of digital marketing, just let us know – we genuinely love to hear from you.