SEO and Search Engine Optimization displayed on a computer screen with digital marketing phrases posted on notes on the wall behind it.

Why SEO Marketing is So Effective for Local Small Businesses

If you are a small business owner or doing a startup business, or even a micro business or side-hustle, the advantages and benefits to SEO marketing for you are significant. That’s why we’re providing this free guide to SEO marketing.

First, we suggest that you stop for a moment and just think about the huge marketplace of potential customers that are online. No matter how small or how new your business is, you really don’t want to miss out on tapping into this vast marketplace. And finding a reputable company offering quality SEO services is a great way to get started.

The Benefits of Online Marketing

As stated above, the pool of potential customers that you can reach online is an immensely larger number than you are probably going to reach and attract locally. With digital marketing, you have the potential to attract an extremely large audience by means that are effective as well as cost-effective. 

Digital marketing is one of the most cost-effective forms of long-term advertising.

But in addition to these benefits, you can also:

  • discover exactly what potential customers are searching for
  • interact directly with prospective customers or clients
  • create and grow your business brand quickly
  • attract more customers at lower costs than traditional marketing tactics
  • create long-lasting “evergreen” content that can attract customers for a very long time

Remember, your future customers are online and searching for products and services every day. If they can’t find your business online (and this includes in social media), they may well decide that your company or business isn’t legit and they’ll end up choosing a business that they can explore online. So if you want them to find you, you need to take advantage of all the benefits afforded you through digital marketing.

The SEO Marketing Umbrella

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the term Digital Marketing by now.  I really like this definition by Wikipedia: “Digital marketing channels are systems based on the internet that can create, accelerate, and transmit product value from producer to…consumer by digital networks.”  I think the part that I particularly like in that definition is the word, “accelerate”, because we are finding that to be quite true as digital marketing evolves. It’s unfortunate that so many are still missing out on this accelerated form of advertising.

By now, many small business owners recognize that the phrase is simply a broad catch-all term that includes all forms of marketing on the internet. It is a synonym that is also known as online marketing, internet marketing, and even mobile marketing. These all refer to popular digital strategies for promoting your business services and products. 

And all these terms taken together actually describe what is sometimes referred to as SEO Marketing, more commonly referred to now as “SEM”, or “Search Engine Marketing.” I know–it can get confusing if you’re not an everyday part of that world! So let’s define these terms before we dive more deeply into our subject.

What is SEM?

SEM icon

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a significant part of all forms of effective digital marketing. It is based on the utilization of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. All forms of your website, social media, and ad content needs to be optimized for online searches that potential clients and customers will be using. So creating content around these search words and phrases is what makes SEM work so well.  And at the heart of having good SEO and SEM on your website and all forms of content is the effective use of SEO Keywords.

What are SEO keywords?

Keyword icon

Your content and all descriptions of your business services and products are based on words or phrases–Keywords–which capture the ideas and topics about which you are writing.

So regarding SEO, these are the phrases or individual words that users type into search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) in order to find what they’re looking for. These primary keyword searches, or search queries, are what you want to pinpoint and predict so you can sprinkle them throughout your written content and ads. The more relevant your keywords and key phrases (aka “long tail keywords”) are to customer searches, the higher your chances are to having your content be seen in search result pages (SERPs).

How Professional SEO Services can Help Your Business SEM

Business owner planning strategy for his search engine marketing campaign using a clear marker board.
Professional SEO services maximize marketing ROI.

Okay, so remember that search engine optimization is what helps you refine and perfect your website so that your search engine ranking improves organically in search results. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) actually goes beyond SEO in this process. It will include additional marketing strategies to help you capture more website traffic. When most marketers think of SEM they are primarily thinking about paid advertising such as PPC, or Pay-Per-Click. PPC ads, funnels, and email marketing and content marketing also use SEO tactics to drive traffic to your website. Still, for many, they only think of SEM in terms of paid search advertising. However, in its purest form, SEO marketing includes both paid ads and content marketing. 

While PPC advertising can produce faster search results for you, we find that organic SEO is the better marketing tactic for strategically producing long-lasting results from evergreen content. Once a strong growth trajectory has begun, many companies rely much more on content marketing as their primary form of digital marketing.

Local SEO companies can be very useful in helping you choose which tactics are best for your current and long-term marketing needs. A good online strategy will typically include a combination of PPC and email marketing, along with SEO marketing in all your written forms of content. Sometimes we have clients who say, “I need my phone to ring now.” Others have a longer-term view of getting in front of potential customer searches to create a long and steady growth trajectory for their business. An experienced specialist can help both of these customers to realize their goals through the following practices.

1. Start with a comprehensive SEO Audit.

An SEO audit is where a specialist analyses your website against current best website practices and against the top competing websites to determine what foundational issues may be affecting your organic search results performance. Your website will be checked for technical SEO or website structure problems, on-page SEO implementation, problems in your off-site SEO and any UX (user-experience) problems. A good SEO audit is a must for you to compete well for online market share.

2. Perform a Competitive Gap Analysis

Next, your website will be analyzed in relation to those of your top competitors. In this process, any deficiencies or gaps in relation to competitors’ keyword rankings are discovered. You can learn what SEO keywords they are ranking for and the value of those search words.

3. Pinpoint and prioritize the best SEO keywords to use.

Analyzing the position and value of the keywords discovered in the competitive gap analysis, you can now determine which words you can best utilize to attack the search position of your competitors. This process may require you to tactically use search words that you may not be expecting to use in order to improve your local or national web presence. The key here is to prioritize and maximize the best keywords and phrases in order to exploit the weaknesses of your competition.

SEO marketing companies will create content that is organized around your most important keywords.

To consistently create content is an arduous task. If you cannot afford to hire someone on staff to handle your content creation, utilizing local SEO services can help you choose and create the best content for your market niche. This will include the keywords pinpointed throughout the previous analyses as well as the primary keywords which your business must utilize often in order to be relevant. The beauty of this aspect of the process is that you have so many possible avenues for creating content that you can build out great authority for your web presence through consistent content management.

Blogging

Blogging is undoubtedly one of the most powerhouse potentials available to businesses. And yet, it is also one of the most under-utilized strategies by most small business owners. I often hear customers remark on how they don’t understand why a plumber or an electrician needs to blog about their businesses. Interestingly, these people are also quite reluctant to employ it, even after I explain how blogging helps small businesses.

Social Media

Unlike blogging, almost all small businesses now use some sort of social media, and we find that it’s usually Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or YouTube. We are currently encouraging more clients to consider using Pinterest to help grow their business. However, we still find that if the owner hasn’t personally had much success with their social media that they can be resistant to professional assistance. Nonetheless, we find that these platforms typically perform significantly better for businesses when under professional social media management.

Video Marketing

Though it is catching on more and more, video marketing is still woefully underutilized by small businesses. And you can place your keywords in the description of your video. So please remember that social media platforms are working hard to promote video above other forms of content. And since Google owns YouTube, a good video that’s optimized correctly performs quite well on YouTube and in Google searches, too. You can also upload your video to video sharing sites to further help improve your off-site SEO.

Image Tagging & Optimization

Image Optimization icon

The use of SEO keywords in images can help your website in searches as well as allowing individual images to perform well on their own. The practice of optimizing images and geotagging them for use on your website, then placing them on image sharing websites can provide a nice SEO boost. And not only do they show up in image searches, but your images can also appear in regular Google search results.

Paid Ads & PPC

Paid ads on social media and PPC can be extremely effective when good SEO is applied. And because the content is so concentrated, the use and placement of keywords are of paramount importance. And not only will you need good SEO, but a professional can also help determine optimum targeting for your ads.

Podcasts, Slideshows, and PDFs

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There are other forms of content placement that are less utilized but are still very effective for SEO. What’s even better is that you can convert your existing content to these media quite easily. For example, you can simply record yourself reading your blog content, or groupings of similar blog posts, and upload them as podcasts to iTunes or other podcast sharing sites. The same applies to slideshows and PDFs.  Simply convert your existing content to these types of media and upload it to sharing sites such as slideshare.com or even to your Google drive, setting them for public viewing.

Whitepapers, Press Releases, Off-site properties, and More

Press Release icon

While there are more places and means for sharing content such as press releases, white papers, eBooks, second-tier websites and blogs, guest-posting, and many more, suffice it to say that the possibilities for content marketing are vast. And what’s even better is that many of these properties will be around and still viewable for a long, long time.

Is SEO too complicated or too much to add to your workload? That’s exactly where we can help.

Professional SEO services will drive more traffic to your website.

Increased web traffic means more leads and sales.

At the end of the day, driving traffic to your website which can be converted into leads and ultimately sales, is the sole reason that you even have a website. Your website is, after all, your online business. It’s important that business owners shift their thinking about their website to this view. And once they do, they realize that how they approach the use of their website is just as important as how they approach the presentation of their business in person, on the radio, or in any other non-digital advertising. It’s not just about your business: it’s an integral part of your business.

As such, our goal becomes to get as much traffic to our websites as we can. And more specifically, we want to drive targeted traffic that is more likely to buy or to tell others about our products or services.  This is where SEO services can be of major help. Through the process of identifying competitive keywords that make other websites so prominent, we can focus our attention to fill those gaps so that our websites appear in those same searches. And by implementing the right structure and metadata behind that content, and using the optimum percentage of our keywords in the best on-site and off-site locations and properties, we can see amazing results and measurable improvement and growth in our web traffic. And we can then measure our ROI for our various content uses.

Expert SEO services will improve your search engine ranking.

People ask me all the time, “So, how do I improve my Google search ranking?” If you want to increase your visibility on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines there are lots of factors involved, including all we’ve already mentioned so far in this article. Here are a few more you’ll need the following:

Your website absolutely must be mobile-friendly.

And this includes loading speed. It must look good, have an easy interface, and load quickly on mobile as well as on a desktop computer.

An optimized Google My Business listing is a must-have.

Google My Business icon

This will help your placement on Google Maps as well as providing greater validity and authority for your website. This is the home for your Google reviews that will help provide trust for prospective buyers.

In addition to these, you will need a comprehensive link-building strategy, particularly if you are in a competitive market niche.

Link building & backlinks icon

This will include lots of different kinds of valid, high-quality links that point back to your website (aka backlinks) from a wide variety of sources, including social signals, branded foundation links, profile links, guest-posts, and many more. Link-building is one part of SEO which you should never entrust to an amateur, as they can severely damage your online performance, and may even get your website blacklisted. And on the positive side, when done properly, link-building can help propel your website higher in the SERPs.

To help summarize the process for improving search engine ranking, we find that it is all really interconnected through three primary categories: Relevance, Trust Flow, and Domain Authority.

1. Relevance and Popularity

There is a metric used and trademarked by Majestic called Citation Flow.  This metric is a form of measuring the popularity of a link on a website, but it doesn’t measure or consider the quality of those links. So by itself, it’s not enough to tell us about the health of our website’s link profile. There are also several metrics in Google Analytics that are applicable to measuring the real-world relevance of your website via the traffic that your site receives. Relevance and popularity are somewhat observable by considering a matrix between (1) the quality of your products and services, (2) the effectiveness of the presentation and promotion of those products and services, and (3) the response of people to that presentation as found in searches and social channels.

Smiling faces pointing to each other with multiple vectors illustrating how seo citations work
This is how SEO Citations work!

2. Trust Flow

This is also a metric applied and trademarked by Majestic that basically analyses and determines the trustworthiness of a website by assessing its quality via the links that are pointing back to it. This is an extremely important metric in today’s digital world, as it helps owners of high-quality websites using a qualitative linking strategy to outperform low-quality websites. Many SEO services employ cheap and easy,  link-building by using low-quality websites to create links that have little to no value. They can show site owners that they have created large numbers of links for their website, but the owner doesn’t know that these links may actually damage their site’s reputation in the eyes of the search engines.

Trust flow is one of the most important metrics for your website.

Furthermore, many SEO services employ “black-hat” techniques which may show a quick boost in ranking a website, but will later be detrimental to the website’s standings.  This is because the tactics are based on techniques that violate the terms of service established by the search engines. The website is subsequently punished by the search algorithms once the black-hat techniques are discovered.

3. Domain Authority

This is a ranking score system that was developed by Moz. Its purpose is to help predict whether or not a website will rank well on search engine result pages (SERPs). As a metric known as DA, it can be useful for evaluating over time the “ranking strength” to which a website attains and/or maintains. DA is not, however, a metric that Google or any other search engine uses to determine search ranking.  It is strictly for use by SEO specialists to help track and measure the overall performance of a website in comparison to its peers and competitors. As a personal observation, I find it interesting (and probably significant) that the AI software I use for my clients also measures and tracks the domain authority for their sites, offering steps for improving their authority relative to that of their competitors.

Domain authority is a measurement of your site's overall ranking potential.

SEO and Content Marketing are really where it’s at in digital marketing for small businesses.

SEO marketing is, in reality, a terminology that helps to focus your planning and thinking as you create your content marketing. In fact, while many articles may try to separate search engine optimization and content market into different entities, they are in fact integrally and inextricably linked together when it comes to marketing. And while they are technically different, still, you cannot have one without the other. You can’t have effective website content without good SEO, and in turn, you cannot have good SEO without content!

So try not to get too confused about which of these you need. In our experience, all forms of SEO marketing come together and are merged as one as various forms of Content Marketing. Even in PPC ads, the content and search optimization are intensely compacted together into the most powerful micro-content possible. And it incorporates all the best of SEO tactics as well as content research and marketing. Just remember to allow time for your online marketing to work, as it normally has a trajectory requiring about 8 to 10 weeks to reach full effect.

Use a comprehensive approach to your marketing.

Some business owners concentrate all their focus and marketing money on traditional forms of advertising such as radio, printed ads and mailers, billboards, etc. Others make the mistake of abandoning proven and effective traditional advertising in favor of digital marketing.  Marketing works best when you cover all the bases and strive for market saturation.

So what’s our recommendation? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Seek balance, experiment and track what’s working as best you can, find whats working best, and capitalize on what’s hot and brings in the business.

Stop losing potential customers to your competitors.
Be seen. Get found. Start your digital marketing campaign today.

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