We know it's challenging operating a business, we know you need SEO, and we know how confusing it can be trying to make sense of all the SEO sales jargon and snake oil out there. When small businesses don't know where to start, they're often led down a rabbit hole of endless digital marketing scams and "sell-anything" digital agencies. As a result, they can end up throwing away their precious marketing funds on false performance metrics and irrelevant adverts to unintended targets, while at the same time eating up their valuable time responding to unqualified leads.
Unfortunately, the penalty that comes from investing in the wrong SEO strategy will likely hit at the worst time. While it might not be today, the longer it goes on, the more investment is wasted.
You'll be happy to hear that local SEO is easier now than ever before, but before we talk about how to properly do SEO for small businesses, first we must define it.
In short, SEO or search engine optimization is optimizing a webpage both on and off-site with the goal of making that page rank higher in particular organic search engine results pages. So naturally, small business SEO is simply optimizing a small local business for its target market. The biggest difference between small business SEO and big business SEO, other than budget, is the hyper-focus on smaller local search regions.
For example, if someone driving in Durham, North Carolina Googles "best ice cream shops," they're going to experience a different set of search recommendations than someone driving through let's say New York City. While big-box brands may have locations all across the country, small businesses are normally highly localized. Subsequently, while big businesses might divide their marketing funds evenly throughout various districts, small businesses, if they wish to be discovered behind the cloak of big-box brands, need to go all out in the small geographic area they operate in.
Since 2014 much of local SEO has been centered around proper Google My Business setup and obtaining positive customer reviews. Thanks to how Google now prioritizes GMB listings for local searches by placing them above organic search results ("Google Local Pack"), gaining an advantage over big businesses is far more feasible than ever before.
However, organic search results are still important for local SEO, and there a number of both on-page and off-page SEO services that can help you outrank the competition. One easy way you can get started is by simply listing your company on the major local citation sites such as Yelp while avoiding the lower-quality directory sites.
Studies have shown that close to 90% of all customers begin their buying process by way of some type of search engine, so in the vast majority of cases, so search is going to be the best way to get in front of your potential customers.
● Budget. You believe you don't have the capital to compete with the more established competitors. Truly I believe this misconception comes from both a false understanding of "domain authority" metrics and the rise of paid guest posting. Maybe this is a genuine concern when it comes to paid advertising, but when it comes to search engine optimization in 2020, budget is far less of a concern. Why? Because as Google cracks down on paid link schemes, today's organic search is becoming more about crafting honest useful content that solves a unique problem.● Speed. While it's true that in competitive markets, tangible results SEO may take longer, there are still ways you can get noticed. As previously mentioned, since 2014 Google My Business has been at the forefront of local search as its search results have been embedded directly at the top of the search results. Since it requires zero SEO to set up your GMB profile, this can get you competing in local search right away. As long as what your small business is offering is competitive and the service is great, you'll soon reap the indirect SEO benefit of positive reviews, clicks, and backlinks as time goes on.● ROI. One of the more common concerns I hear is that investing in search engine optimization will not bring as high a return on investment as digital advertising. We understand this because most small businesses are running on a limited budget, so these marketing funds must be allocated where they will bring the best ROI. The counter-argument to this, however, is that your company will reap the benefits of a proper SEO campaign for far longer than any advertisement will run. Many of the benefits of a proper SEO campaign will grow exponentially over the years. In fact, just one good article alone can bring you thousands of conversions each and every year as it grows in popularity. This is because every backlink you receive as a result of great content marketing and SEO has the potential to turn into more backlinks and referrals. Additionally, searchers are becoming trained to skip their eyes past the first few ads that appear at the top of Google's search engine results pages. What this means for you is that it's becoming more important to rank organically, and that is something that only SEO can do.
SEO is important for small business for a variety of reasons stemming from targeted traffic to customer confidence.
1. Targeted Leads2. More sales3. Less ad spend4. More clicks than PPC5. Link building helps public relations6. Long-term gains over advertising7. More reviews & credibility8. Better user experience9. Higher conversion rates10. Brand Awareness
It's understandable that small business owners may feel overwhelmed by the establishment's so-called "authority," but I'm here to tell you that small businesses can compete with the right SEO strategy. While its true a competing big-box brand may have far more backlinks to a competing page than you, despite what third party metrics say, many of those backlinks are being ignored by Google. Additionally, in contrast to the big-box brands, there is also less of a chance that competing small businesses will have a proper SEO strategy, giving you the search advantage.
For far too long the SEO community has been taking advantage of questionable SEO techniques that have only come back to bite them. What this means for you is that you have an opportunity to take advantage of a clean slate in the eyes of Google. Using efficient keyword research, quality on-page SEO, and white hat outreach, you'll be well on your way to the top of Google in no time. I've seen it time and time again.
In just a matter of months, we were able to rank SEO SEMPER for local querries over our competitors who've been around for decades, and we did so without link building! All you really need is to have something people are looking for and a means to get it to your target audience.
If you need assistance getting your product, service, or your message in front of targeted traffic, that's where we can help. No website? We can even help you get online with our free website builder. It has everything you need and you can host if for free with unlimited Google Cloud Hosting and SSL on our subdomain until your ready to go live with your own custom domain name.
In short, the price you pay for SEO services is normally going to depend on what you want to accomplish and the level of competition, however, that hasn't stopped small business SEO agencies from coming up with packaged monthly SEO.
SEO Packages tailored to small business normally range from $300-$1000 a month. In contrast, the hourly rate for agency-level SEO is somewhere between $45-$150 an hour in the United States, while freelance SEO is normally in the range of $30-$50 an hour.
At SEO SEMPER we don't believe in default one-size-fits-all packed SEO. Instead, we believe in doing what it takes to overcome the competitors in your unique market. Our prices are flat-rate for individual services only, and our hourly rate is only $40 an hour!
According to a study conducted by Backlinko in 2019, businesses that spent over $500/month were 53.3% more likely to be "extremely satisfied" compared to those that spent less than $500/month. Why? Because success often scales with time and money spent. This doesn't mean you need to pay your agency $500/month, but you can expect to spend around this much in total between your own efforts and what you contract your SEO agency to do, that is, if you want to really compete in a saturated market.
be For PPC small businesses and bloggers could benefit from using the 10% rule to determine a starting budget. To do this, first, calculate how many hours you normally spend on routine SEO and manual promotion, let's say 10 as an example. Next, ask yourself how much your time is worth, $30/h? 10*$30= $300*10%= ($30). Thirty dollars isn't that much at all and it will be a worthwhile investment. If you're not sure what paid advertising you want to invest in, Facebook ads are a great place to start, you can even try "boosting" your blog posts to reach more targeted readers. Also, consider that Google's Adwords is now easier than ever to set up and use as AI does all the heavy lifting. Better yet, both Adwords and Microsoft Ads are now awarding new sites with free advertising credit, so take advantage of the freebies while you can!
In most industries, reviews are a good way to gauge how well a product or service is right? Well, this isn't always the case in SEO, especially in the small business SEO market. Why? Because many small business owners do not have staff educated in search marketing. Thus, they will often rate an SEO service for quantity over quality. You see this a lot in the freelance world where SEO's deliver "bonus links," which are nothing other than snake oil to the untrained eye.
So how do you find the right SEO provider in a sea of snake oil? Well, how are they ranking locally? If an agency can't rank in their own locality they are probably not the best choice. Next, I'd download the free MozBar and check their website's spam score. Often times this will give you a much better indication of the quality of SEO you can expect, but it's not full-proof. Many agencies do not use their own SEO services because they are not actually the ones doing the work. Instead what they are doing is white-labeling another company's SEO services.