Marketing your small business can be challenging. Limited by a tight budget and lack of time, you may find it difficult to break into the competitive digital space that your audience uses to consider their options. That’s what makes search engine optimization (SEO) so crucial to the success of your online marketing efforts.

Reaching your audience during their research

Regardless of your industry, one truth remains consistent in digital marketing: if your audience is looking for a product or service like the one you offer, they turn to a search engine. A number of statistics support that behavior:

  • According to Alexa, Google is the single most-visited website in the world, with competitors Yahoo and Bing also ranking in the Top 20. Even country-specific Google iterations like Google.Fr and Google.co.uk rank in the top 25 of global websites according to traffic.
  • One study found that 89% of consumers use search engines to inform their buying decisions.
  • According to another study, 93% of all internet experiences begin with a search engine.

In other words, your audience relies heavily on websites like Google to find companies like yours. A presence on these search engines might be all you need to convince them to become customers.

Finding the right keywords to gain visitors

Of course, a presence on search engine results pages can only be successful if you know which keywords to focus on. You need to make sure that your website ranks highly not just for any words and phrases, but those that actively reflect customer pain points as they seek out brands like yours.

A local fashion store, for example, may want to focus their efforts on fashion trends and fashion outlet in [city] for optimum success. Engage in strategic keyword research, to find out which phrases will actually bring your search engine optimization efforts success.

Optimizing your website to increase relevance

Once you have found the right keyword to focus on, it’s time to make sure that your website design and content allows you to climb the Google rankings for these terms. That means a comprehensive optimization effort, which includes a variety of factors:

  • Including the desired keyword naturally in your text, headlines, and other content.
  • Adding descriptive alt text to all of your visual content.
  • Minimizing your page load times to decrease bounce rates.
  • Investing in responsive design that will increase user experiences regardless of screen size.

Of course, these are just a few of the many factors that can help you optimize your website. Google, for example, uses more than 200 ranking factors that influence just where your website and its individual pages show up on search engine results pages.

Ensuring a consistent digital presence on search engines

Finally, for optimum SEO success, a one-time optimization process is not enough. Instead, you need to continuously work to improve your website.

New keywords may become relevant to your audience. Google may release an algorithm update that changes or heightens its emphasis on credibility and relevance. Your competitors may begin to outrank you.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of regular content in helping your small business succeed in SEO. Each time you publish a new page, search engines like Google will re-crawl your website to see if the new content has any impact on your rankings. That means content marketing, particularly in the form of SEO-optimized blog posts, can be an immensely powerful tool.

Used correctly, search engine optimization can be the catalyst that helps your small business succeed online. It’s a complex process that requires time, research, testing and learning and applying best practices. If your marketing budget is tight, SEO should be among your top priorities for making sure that your audience can find you, and your business can grow.

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