If you run a small business and have started a website, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the term SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.
While there’s lots of jargon around SEO that can confuse and overwhelm, it’s simply maximising the potential of your website so that it appears on Google when people are searching for terms relating to your business.
For example, if you’re a window cleaner in Wolverhampton, you’d want to appear at the top of the search results if someone searched for ‘window cleaner in wolverhampton‘ or ‘window cleaning services wolverhampton‘ or ‘window cleaners near me‘.
People use Google every day with high intent to find products and services, so it’s essential that all businesses (small or large) take advantage of the opportunity.
But why is SEO particularly important for small businesses?
Well, it’s effectively a free sales channel.
SMEs often find marketing budgets are tight so if you know you can get more customers just by making some simple changes to your website, why wouldn’t you?
In smaller local markets, dominating search results might even provide all the sales required to sustain your business – it can be that lucrative.
Is SEO even more important than social media for small businesses?
There’s no definitive right or wrong answer to this question, but it’s worth remembering that people who find your site via Google were searching for your products or services. That means they’re much more likely to become customers because they arrived with the intent to buy.
Sites like Facebook and Instagram are great for getting people to discover your business but many aren’t necessarily in the market for what you’re selling. You might be able to convince them and develop a dedicated following, but they start out as passive viewers, so it can take longer to convert them to paying customers.
You would of course do both activities, but traffic from Google is often more immediately profitable, particularly for small enterprises.
How should a small business get started with SEO?
This will depend on your level of technical proficiency and the desire to manage the process yourself, but there are a couple of simple things I would advise every small business owner to do with their website, just to get the ball rolling with SEO.
1. Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website.
These two bits of software are free and provide you with most of the data you need to get started with SEO. Google Analytics shows you where all the traffic to your website comes from and what those visitors do after they arrive. Search Console is even more important for SEO because it shows you exactly how Google view your website and shows you all the specific phrases your website is showing up for in their results.
2. Claim your Google My Business (Map) listing.
This is also completely free and if you’re looking to promote your services in a specific area is an essential component of SEO. Map listings always appear right at the top of the page when people search using a location (e.g. windows cleaners in wolverhampton, cafes in manchester, etc) and to be considered, you need to have a My Business listing established.
3. Make sure your website explains all of your products or services in as much detail as possible.
Small businesses will quite often have a homepage, a contact page and one simple page called ‘services’ that lists out everything they do. But it’s important you dedicate entire pages to each service or product to give yourself the best possible chance of Google matching a user’s search to your website. And on those pages, go into as much detail as possible because Google likes pages that offer complete information.
Finally…speak to a professional
There are all kinds of off-the-shelf SEO services and tools you can find online to take your efforts to the next level, but I would strongly advise not doing anything you don’t fully understand. Find an independent consultant (like me), have a discussion about what you’re trying to do with your business on Google and if what’s being proposed seems logical and makes sense, take it from there.
Speak to me today about your SEO for free, no-obligation advice. Details can be found here.