The Level Playing Field

The Internet has changed the course of business marketing forever.  Consumer search behavior has changed and there is really no demographic or industry that is not involved on the Web in some capacity.  Consumers use search engines as one of the primary ways to research brands, products, and services.  There are many stats to back this up but let’s stick to the basics for now.  This article focuses on why SMB’s should care about SEO and having a powerful online presence.  If you are not on page one for any important keywords, you are invisible to users and passing up many new business opportunties.

5 reasons SMB’s Should Care About SEO (and all Internet marketing for that matter):

  1. Its Affordabel and Practical: Organic search engine optimization (SEO) is not advertising…it is a business development and branding investment.  It is also affordable compared to traditional media.  Out with the old, in with the new.  SMB’s that want to remain (or become) competitive in this environment, MUST be visible online.  Even if your business falls under the “competitive” category for search terms, there are ways to capture the lower hanging fruit through long tail strategies while you wait for the broader search term results to materialize.  Many business owners still don’t understand SEO or its long term value.  Its time to get educated and make the committment.  The longer you wait, the more business you will lose to competitors.
  2. Its Effective: Having great placements for your most powerful keywords in the SERPs is going to drive higher volumes of quality traffic than any other online marketing method.  The traffic will be more likely to convert (assuming you have taken the proper conversion rate optimization steps to ensure this) into new business.  80% of users head strait to the natural results as opposed to the paid results.  Additonally, you have to be on page one to have a decent chance.  Ten years ago users would search through the first few pages.  Now they look at really only the first page…the top five if you want to get really specific.  Focus first on getting to page one, as the competitive strategy will get more complex once you are there.
  3. Branding Opportunity:  I don’t like to use this term much because it can have a certain connotation to business owners (marketing with no ROI).  However, even the little guy can be a be a player now.  If you have a compelling website and a great service to offer, all you have to do is get to page one of Google and you have leveled the playing field.  Many large brands still do not use SEO effectively so take advantage and gain some market share.  Being on page one now makes you look like a big player because consumers trust the higher results more.
  4. It Forces You to Create a Better Website: The foundation behind SEO is first to fix the website, or at least create one that is SEO friendly and follows basic Google Webmaster Guidelines.  Best practices always apply but technicalities aside, its all about having a compelling site which is user friendly and has great content.  The content can and should come in the form of resources, articles, blogs, video, etc.  The more the better.  Business owners should be prepared to redevelop their site if necessary before starting SEO.  Any good firm will first notice if this is necessary.
  5. The Competition is Already There: Some of the companies you consider to be your competition may not be doing SEO (which is good so take advantage of the opportunity to gain more market share) but your “online” competition is already on page one.  These are the companies you should care about.  And honestly, your main competitors will catch on eventually so its best you get a head start.

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