You need to learn how to use search engine optimization (SEO) in your small business. But if you're like most small business people, you still have a ways to go at maximizing your website's SEO, according to survey firm Clutch that polled owners and managers of small businesses, most with one to 10 employees.
The study reported that only half of the small businesses that have websites use SEO. (Even worse, nearly half of small businesses polled don't even have a website.) The good news is that one-third say they plan to start using SEO in the future and just 17 percent say they have no plans to do it at all.
If you have a business website but aren't bothering to use SEO tactics, you are essentially leaving the results of your website up to chance.
Why go to the trouble of setting up a website if you're not going to make the most of it? Effective SEO can help determine who sees your website, what they do when they get there, and whether or not they end up doing business with your company.
Here are some tips for improving your SEO strategy:
Educate yourself about SEO.
Keeping pace with constantly changing SEO trends and strategies can be complex, but understanding the basics is fairly simple. But there is more than one reason to learn about SEO. Even if you don't plan handle the SEO yourself, by knowing the basics, you'll be better able to assess the skills of any independent contractor or marketing company you're thinking about hiring to handle your SEO.
Be willing to spend on SEO.
Spending your money for something as intangible as SEO may be a hard decision, but its importance to business success makes it a vital part of any small business's marketing strategy. Set aside an adequate budget to carry out the SEO tactics that will help your company grow.
Be very patient.
Achieving results from your SEO will take some time, so be consistent in your efforts. Don't pull your budget just because sales don't increase instantly.
Taking the next step.
Nearly sixty percent of small businesses surveyed that use SEO, focus on onsite SEO and local search optimization. While both of these are important, and tend to be the easiest steps to take in improving your website's SEO, the report suggests that going beyond these steps can vastly improve your results.
Clutch advises that you create high-quality content for your business website. Content on your website should be about answering your prospective customers' questions about your products and services, providing information that showcases your expertise and builds trust in your business. Only about one-fourth of survey respondents say that quality content is one of their SEO strategies.
You can also use content on other trusted websites to help your SEO. For example, guest blogging on reputable websites where your target customers spend time can build your authority and drive traffic to your own website. Just as with content on your own site, this content should inform, educate and develop trust with prospects. Only 24 percent of survey respondents use guest blogging as an SEO tactic, so there's lots of room to get ahead of the pack here.
Always track results.
The survey recommends not just tracking where your website traffic comes from and how well you rank for your chosen keywords, but also tracking conversions and leads. This measurement is vital to showing whether or not you're getting good ROI for your SEO efforts.
All this takes a lot of time and since 64 percent of small businesses handling their SEO in-house, it's no wonder many are falling short of their SEO goals. Getting outside help with SEO is an investment that can pay off for your business.