Every so often, it becomes clear that small businesses are taking increasing steps to widen their knowledge of search engine optimisation. The SEO discipline is, when put to good use, a veritable goldmine of consumer attention, increased website traffic, and a boost in the industry’s awareness of your business.
BusinessWeek‘s Karen E. Klein states that SEO is especially important for “small businesses with limited brand recognition.” Promoting the brand should be any small business’s number one goal – without brand awareness, there is no foundation upon which to build a successful company. Encouraging not only awareness, but loyalty can ensure that your business meets its long-term goals in addition to boosting sales of its current product and service range.
Unfortunately, as Klein states, the SEO tutorial network is rife with “bad information.” There are countless so-called “SEO experts” who are nothing more than self-proclaimed industry figureheads whose Twitter follower numbers are unfortunately often only an indication of a large void in which to cast their ideas. SEO agencies, however, are a far more reliable source of guidance and assistance, and will allow you to take advantage of the countless benefits of good SEO whilst negating the risks of bad advice.
SEO is, by and large, a method of turning a search-engine’s algorithms to your advantage. If you find that you rarely appear in the first page or two of results for keywords that describe your what your business offers to the letter, than perhaps an enquiry to an agency may be a wise choice.
Klein recommends SEOMoz and other sites containing beginner’s guides, but it is imperative that you consider the sources of such information. Like the wave of traditional marketing “experts” before them, many SEO magicians can offer little more than parlour tricks, preferring to rely on vague allusions to “community branding” and “generating a positive consumer experience,” minus the useful examples required to put these positive-sounding first steps into practice.
As with any new discipline within marketing, however, SEO has often been branded hogwash by those who prefer a more traditional approach, but it is easy to highlight the ignorance of such remarks. Figures from Search Engine Land indicate that as many as eighty-eight billion searches per month were made via Google alone in 2010. Statistics like this are hard to ignore – with the potential to reach as little as 0.1% of these individuals, the traffic drawn to your site would be enough to fund every single aspect of your business model, provided you are capable of generating revenue through advertising.
If your intention is to school yourself in SEO, and there are sound resources that make this possible, consider that it is not a monetary investment, but one of time and effort outside the day-to-day running of your business. Consider if you can justify this against the cost of hiring an SEO agency – after all, if you are capable of spending ten hours a week working on your SEO skills, it is equally justifiable that those hours could have funded a day-long SEO briefing at any number of competent agency offices. The financial benefit of the latter, you will find, more than pays for the cost of a DIY approach.
Soon, the digital age will reach its pinnacle and traditional businesses will have to re-shape their approach to marketing their brand. But until then, those small businesses who choose to take swift advantage of the benefits of search-engine optimisation will find themselves rewarded, and ahead of the game when their competitors finally join the online sphere.