Having the competitive advantage in business can be the difference between thriving or surviving.
Every business owner goes into business with the expectation of thriving and beating out the competition.
So how can you (as a business owner) win customers over your competitors?
Invest in search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization is marketing online to organically grow the awareness and visibility of your business or website.
Isn’t a billboard or TV ad a much better investment for my business? Won’t I get more exposure?
Yes, those forms of marketing will get your business exposure but that exposure won’t be targeted. Meaning everyone will see them, the people not interested in your products/services (the majority) and those who are interested (the minority).
With SEO you are targeting specific keywords people are actively searching for online that are related to your business, services, or products. Your exposure will be to those who want your products/services, thus making the chance of purchase much higher.
Here are some interesting statistics from BrightLocal.com about local marketing for small businesses…
- 97% of consumers use the internet when looking for a products/services in their local area.
- 54% of Americans use the internet over the phone book
- 140 billion (with a B) local searches in 2014.
- 32% of consumers are more likely to contact you if you have a business.
- 98% of people searching on the internet will choose a business that is on page ! in Google.
- 77% of smartphone users contact a local business after looking for local information. 59% of mobile users who look for local information visit the business that day!
- The #1 reason for doing online search is to find the location of a “known” business in the local area.
- 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it gas information on a social media website.
So as you can see consumers are actively searching (by the tens of thousands) daily for local businesses. Why not make your business the one they trust and come to versus your competitor?
Search engine optimization has the power to do this for your business. Having your business on page one in Google can change your entire business around.
I already have a website, isn’t that enough?
NO! Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you’ll magically appear on the first page of the search engines or anywhere in the top 100 pages.
A few factors determine where you appear in the search engines…
The content on your website and how relevant it is to what people are searching for; social buzz around your business/products/services; click-thru rate and bounce-rate; these are just a few of the dozens of variables that the search engine algorithms use to determine your search engine ranking position (SERP).
Can I do search engine optimization myself or have my staff do it?
You can do SEO yourself, but do so at your own risk! It is often best to leave it in the hands of a professional. You can do more harm than good if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Some simple tasks you can do to help your local business in the search engines are:
- Setup your social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, Pinerest, Tumblr, etc. Make sure to include a link to your website in your profiles of these sites. You can go to Knowem.com to find accounts where you can establish your brand.
- List your business in local business and citations directories – name, address, and phone number should be the same across these. This is critical if you want your business to rank in the search engines locally.
- Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools – it can help you monitor the links coming to your site, any penalties, spam, keywords your website is being recognized for, and highlight important data on your website.
- Make a list of keywords that represent your products/services – put yourself in the mind of a consumer looking for your services/products, what would they type into the search engines? Make a list of all possible combinations of words and phrases. There are various tools you can use to see the search volume of the words and phrases you come up with, the best of course is Google’s Keyword tool.
- Read about search engine optimization – knowledge is power! Even though you may not do the SEO yourself, it’s important to have a good understanding of how it all works. It prevents you from getting scammed or “taken” by a SEO company and allows you to fully understand the work an SEO company does for your business. Here’s a great beginners guide to SEO.
Doing these 5 things will get you started. Then start interviewing some local SEO companies and with the knowledge you have, ask them questions and make a decision.
Things to keep in mind?
Results DO NOT come overnight with SEO! It is a long-term marketing strategy, but the pay-off can be big – First page ranks for multiple keywords, thousands of targeted visitors to your website and business, increased revenues, and a growing business.
Also remember that SEO is ongoing, it isn’t something you so for 6 months and call it quits. The world of search engine optimization is constant evolving and changing, so staying current with it is important to maintain your SERP. You will need to do ongoing maintenance.