Why SEO is important for small businesses

You have probably heard people talking about how important SEO is, but maybe you do not know much about it. Perhaps you are looking to hire SEO services, but want to know if the investment is worth it.

We have put together a list of the most important reasons why your business needs SEO, the benefits of it, and the disadvantages of search engine optimisation. Read on to found out about the importance of optimising for search.

Why your business needs SEO

The main channel for driving website traffic

Organic search is the primary acquisition channel for website visits. Research by BrightEdge reported that 53.3% of website traffic comes via organic search results. Ignoring SEO means that you are probably missing out on many visits to your site, and therefore sales and leads.

SEO is constantly changing

Optimising for search is not a one-off. Google makes hundreds, if not thousands, of updates to its algorithm and search results each year. While it is true that the core of SEO remains the same, to keep ahead of your competition, you need to be making ongoing changes to your website, link profile and other owned media. If you do not continue to invest in SEO, you will quickly see your site fall behind.

You need page one rankings to see any results

Click through rates for organic SERPs (search engine results pages) drop off very quickly from page two and below. You need to be ranking on page one if you want to see any impact from search engine traffic. If you do not engage in SEO, you are unlikely to rank on page one for any competitive keywords.

Benefits of SEO for small businesses

Better user experience on your website

Many of the organic search ranking factors directly impact user experience (UX). Page speed has been an essential part of Google’s algorithm for many years, and slow load times for web pages can negatively impact search positions. Improving page speed for search engines also ensures that you improve load times for users. Optimising for other rankings signals also enhances UX, such as internal links to other relevant content, engaging copy, and responsive design that looks great on mobile and desktop.

Increased conversion rates

Improving UX due to SEO will also lead to higher conversion rates. Instead of people leaving your site due to slow loading times, they will be more inclined to navigate your site, find the content they are looking for and purchase or enquire.

Increased sales and leads

SEO can increase your sales and leads due to higher conversion rates and the additional traffic from search engines. For most organisations, this increase in revenue is the ultimate aim for their search engine optimisation work.

Greater brand awareness

Ranking for non-brand keywords can increase your brand awareness. Your target audience will see your brand in search results when they would not have, had it not been for you ranking highly in SERPs.

Higher trust and authority

A perception of greater authority and trust comes with higher rankings in search results. It is not necessarily true that websites ranking top for search terms are the leaders in that area. Despite this, many people searching on Google will assume that the best matches for their queries are the top few Google results.

Increased local visibility

For businesses serving specific areas, optimising for search can dramatically increase their visibility for local searches. Setting up a Google My Business profile and tweaking your content for location terms can increase local visitors.

Better competitive insights

An essential part of SEO work is competitor analysis. During this process, you will research the keywords your competitors use, their on-page tactics, and their link acquisition strategies. The insights you gain from the competitor analysis benefit SEO and other marketing channels such as PR, and can even lead to new product development.

SEO can be low cost compared to other channels over the long term

Google and Bing do not charge anything to appear in their organic search results, so technically organic search is free. In reality, without investing time and money into SEO, you are highly unlikely to rank on page one for competitive search terms. Despite this, organic search can deliver lots of relevant traffic to your website for a low cost compared to other marketing channels over the long term.

You can quantify SEO performance

You can track SEO performance and quantify your results more accurately than many other forms of marketing, such as offline marketing. Unfortunately, you cannot view the organic keyword-level data from Google in your analytics. However, you can still track overall organic search visits via platforms such as Google Analytics. Other tools, search as Search Console, allow you to track your website’s performance in search results at the keyword level. You can use this data to calculate your ROI from SEO activity and identify which areas may need improvement.

Customer insights

SEO provides additional insights into your target audience. You can find out which search terms they are interested in, seasonality for searches, the popularity of keywords by region, and more. In addition to organic search, you can use customer data gained from SEO activities to inform your other marketing efforts.

Disadvantages of SEO

SEO is a long-term commitment

While you can sometimes rank for your keywords quickly, ranking for competitive terms will likely be a long-term objective. You will need to build up your site’s authority and relevancy for your target keywords. Doing this requires research, content production, outreach, and link acquisition – all of which take time.

SEO can initially be expensive

Even though SEO can be one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies in the long term, it can be costly when launching SEO for your enterprise. You need to spend time on keyword research, competitor analysis, and auditing your technical, content and off-page elements. These actions alone could run into the tens of thousands depending on your website’s size and the number of products and categories requiring research.

Once all SEO research and analyses are complete, your website may require web development, updating pages, and producing new content to target keywords. All of these tasks need time and money to complete.

Depending on your reporting needs, you may also need to pay for rank tracking tools and link analysis tools.

All of this adds up to organisations in competitive niches requiring a significant investment when beginning SEO.

Nobody can guarantee page one rankings

In paid search you can outbid all of your competitors, budget permitting, and pretty much guarantee at least a page one ranking. Unfortunately, organic search offers no such sure-fire process for ranking on page one. Yes, you can optimise everything, and over time there is a good chance that you will rank on the first page, but it is still possible for you to invest a lot in SEO and not get the rankings you expected.

You do not have full control over your search listings

Unlike paid advertising where you choose the title, ad copy, images and other elements, Google does not provide you with complete control over your organic search listing. For example, you could edit your page’s title element, but Google might decide to show different text it believes is more relevant for your search listing title. The same is true of your meta description and the description used in SERPs, as well as many other elements of your search listings. Google may even choose not to include some of your pages in their results at all.

Google penalties

If you do not stay on the right side of Google’s guidelines, you could see your website penalised. A penalty from Google could undo all of your hard work and result in wasted investment. If your enterprise relies on sales and leads from organic search, a penalty from Google could cost you your business.

Wrapping up

You can now see why SEO is vital for SMEs. It is a channel that can potentially drive a lot of traffic, sales and leads.

If you would like to find out how we can grow your business’ organic search traffic, email our team hello@strategyst.co.uk.

Daniel Lee

I am a digital marketing strategist with more than eleven years' experience. I have worked in digital marketing agencies, as well as client-side. My clients include small businesses all the way up to organisations with revenue in the billions. I provide marketing consultancy both in the UK and the US. I hold a Master of Science degree in International Marketing, and I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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