Make the most of your online marketing dollar
Small business owners can no longer afford to ignore SEO; 7 out of 10 Americans now shop online, making SEO critical to any successful marketing strategy. Especially if your business serves a geographic area, local SEO is easily the best way to maximize the impact of your marketing dollar. Let’s explore some of the reasons that small businesses need SEO.
1. Local SEO is the best way to reach mobile users
Every day, more and more prospective customers will look for your business on their smartphones—and investing in local SEO, including Google Places, Yelp, and other location-based search engines, will ensure that they find you. Particularly when they’re in a hurry, phone users glance at the top-ranked item for their search, and make a snap decision; which means your business needs to be the first thing mobile users see when they search for your industry and location.
2. More precise targeting than traditional marketing
Local SEO is far better bang-for-buck than traditional marketing, and the margin will only grow wider as more and more customers look to search engines to connect with local businesses. Buying a local TV ad or renting a billboard reaches a very broad, vague population, but local SEO targets motivated, interested customers who are looking for exactly the product or service you provide.
3. Some local SEO is free
Most elements of your local campaign will cost nothing but time. For starters:
- Build a social media presence with regular updates and customer engagement
- Create a simple, attractive site for your business that will bring customers to your checkout page in as few clicks as possible
- Get featured on reputable local blogs with guest articles or press releases
- Encourage customers to post favorable reviews on Google Maps, Yelp, and Yahoo! Local
While these steps alone won’t bring the results that a full-scale SEO campaign can, they’re a powerful force multiplier on any other marketing tools you choose.
4. It’s much easier to be a big fish in a small pond
Because SEO is so scalable, the level of your competition depends entirely on the search terms you try to rank for—which means that if you try to rank for generic, global keywords (and compete with mega-corporations with huge marketing budgets) you’ll spin your wheels and get nowhere. However, it’s very possible to outrank and overcome your immediate competitors. Local SEO means focusing on your real-world customers and competitors.
5. Targeted local SEO is much more effective
Particularly for small, service-oriented businesses, your marketing dollars are most effective when they’re laser-focused. Amateur SEO consultants waste endless time and money winning friends for their clients in far-flung corners of the globe, while neglecting the people who are likely to actually patronize the business.
6. Your website may need tweaking
Most web design is intended to be visually-impressive to the client, but neglects the tools of efficient design that draw traffic and leads. Consequently, the internet is full of attractive, flashy sites that are a positive nightmare for lead generation. A designer who knows his or her SEO will create both an appealing interface as well as a frictionless path for customers, from landing page to checkout, with as few clicks as possible.
If your site is pulling in healthy, high-quality traffic, take a look at your analytics to find out what’s working—where are your customers coming from, and which of your pages are they most interested in? These statistics can be deceptive if you aren’t paying attention to local traffic in particular: your local visitors may not have the same interests as your overall traffic, so it’s important to recognize the nuances. No matter what fun ideas others may suggest, your whole design should be built around ensuring that customers have a direct, painless path to checkout. If you accept credit cards or cash in person, never let a customer go without asking how they found you.
About the Author:
Shawna Davies is a staff writer for Going Cellular. She has a talent for organization and helping people navigate new technology. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and young son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.