You just have to come up first in that Google Search. You believe that your business success is tied to that happening. That is where you want your business. EVERYONE says that you have to have good SEO to do that. You don’t know how so you find someone, some local expert who can help you become first on that search. You give them hundreds or thousands of dollars to accomplish this. After months or more, your business is the same.
That isn’t a made up story. I see it happen all the time. In fact, I’ve had clients who have, over a 2 year period, spent $12,000 or more on SEO. Many of them know that it is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. They believe it is a form of advertising or marketing that will drive customers to their website. Those customers will, in turn, hopefully, become paying customers.
The reality is that maybe they will and maybe they won’t. For the majority of small business owners, SEO may not be an expense you need and in fact focusing your resources on SEO may not be what your business really needs.
Good SEO will get you valuable web traffic. In other words, it will drive people to your website. These people are generally one of more of three types:
- Seekers of information
- Seekers of a specific website
- Seekers looking to buy
If you are spending thousands of dollars on SEO, you obviously want that third type. That is difficult to achieve, which is a key part of small business owners challenge with SEO.
Don’t get me wrong, SEO has value, but again for the average small business owner, it may not be so valuable that you spend thousands of dollars on it when other parts of your marketing strategy can be more productive.
Some key disadvantages of SEO are:
- It takes a lot of time to work, often more time than you have. Further, you have no guarantee it will work.
- The Return on Investment (ROI) is long. Sometimes years, other times never. Yes, some work more quickly but the average small business owner cannot tie up their cash for 3-6 months without revenue coming in that replaces it.
- To truly be competitive it requires a lot of work, that means more cost. True SEO is a full-time job and that means constantly. Take time off from SEO activities and you may well need to start over. Find someone to do it for you and it gets expensive.
- Changes by the various search engines can literally wipe out your SEO efforts overnight. When the major search engine changes its process or rules for solving problems that affect your SEO, you could easily find that you must redo everything. These changes are common.
What can you do to develop a good Internet presence for your business without spending thousands of dollars on someone else doing it for you? Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your website’s visibility:
- Understand who your customers are or should be – That means spending some time to understand your market. Who will buy from you and why? Sometimes that means asking your existing customers why. If you are a new or startup business it may mean knowing who your competitors are and learning about them.
- Blog – You should blog or start producing regular online content. Put something out there every week at a minimum and schedule when that happens. I post an article every Saturday and share it through social media. I share it again with specific social media groups every Monday. I also publish a monthly newsletter. My website traffic is up with an average daily visitor rate of 12 and they view on average 2 pages with an average time on my site of almost 2 minutes. You are the subject expert, find a way to share that and benefit your business.
- Understand Google Analytics – Those numbers I just gave came from my having a Google Analytics account (it’s free) and reviewing it. By knowing those numbers I know how good my website efforts are doing. Further, I know where those who view my content are located. Plus, I am getting clients.
- Master Keywords – Your business or industry has certain terms or buzzwords that it uses. Your customers have terms they use for your buzzwords. Sometimes they are not the same. You need to know these and use the customers instead of your buzzwords.
SEO is just one part of your overall business marketing plan. You don’t need to spend a significant part of your marketing budget to enjoy some of its benefits. With a little time and effort, you can easily do it for yourself and still reap the rewards.