A Small Business Owner’s Guide to SEO

Your prospective customers are looking for you online. But will they find your business or one of your competitor’s? It isn’t enough to create a company website and hope that your customers find you. You must bring your services to the forefront of your prospective customers’ web searches.

How? By increasing your online visibility, digital presence, and online authority.

This general process is frequently referred to as search engine optimization, or SEO for short. High-quality SEO can mean the difference between being the first company to come up when a new customer searches for your services and having three pages of results appear before your website.

Read on to learn more about the basics of good SEO and why your local business needs it.

How Does SEO Work?

Google and other search engines go through all of the text on a webpage automatically. This process is known as “crawling.” After an automated software program crawls your page, it indexes the data found there. Then, when someone makes a search request, the program matches the user with pages that appear to best fit the search criteria.

Here’s a hypothetical example. Say you run a local dental practice. When an individual with a toothache searches “emergency dentist in NYC,” you want your business to come up first in the search results.

To appear on the first page of results, your business’ web site must fit the customer’s search. If, for example, you offer emergency appointments, but do not say so on your website, this hypothetical customer is more likely to see another practice’s site before yours.

Initially, all you had to do to ensure that your site matched potential searches was to include search terms you wanted to target on the page. Our hypothetical dentist, for example, might include “family dentistry,” “dental crowns,” “emergency dentist,” and so on.

However, current algorithms work much more complexly that just identifying keywords. Search engines also take into account a range of other factors, including website authority, business-client interaction history, and keyword frequency.

Why Do Small Businesses Need SEO?

You know the importance of marketing directly to your audience, but you may wonder why your business needs SEO specifically. Local businesses rely on SEO for a variety of reasons, including the following.

1. Cost-effective Marketing

Think about how you find new companies, whether they be restaurants or plumbers. You probably start with the local results generated by your preferred search engine. Your prospective clients likely start the same way.

For this reason, investing in your digital presence and authority is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available, especially if you own a small business.

2. Minimization of Heavy Competition

Many forms of marketing have become highly saturated. Think, for example, of how many billboards you see on your daily commute. This saturation can make it difficult for new, small, or locally focused companies to be heard over their competitors.

Good SEO levels the playing field by putting your website right next to, and hopefully eventually above, your competitors’.

3. Potential Customer Loyalty

Consumers today show a strong preference for companies that make an effort to simplify the searching and buying process. Having a reliable, up-to-date, and optimized digital presence not only helps you gain new customers, but it also helps you keep them.

When you customers experience easy searching, browsing, and scheduling or buying through your site, they are more likely to seek future services with you in the future.

SEO consists of many complex factors, many of which lie outside the experience of any individual without programming or online marketing training. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to partner with an experienced SEO and web development company when trying to better reach potential customers.

This is especially true when you first start out, since the SEO industry evolves so quickly. A trusted web development company can help you determine which SEO steps your company needs most, such as regularly updated social media accounts, and help you avoid common pitfalls, such as overusing keywords (known as keyword stuffing).

Schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable team of professionals today to create a truly effective digital presence that maximizes your company’s visibility and profitability.

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