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Patricia O'Loughlin
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Word concubine since 1989.
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Getting Back to Basics: Why SEO is Important to Your Small Business’s Online Success

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Most larger businesses have already established their presence in the minds of their consumers. You think athletic apparel, you think Nike, Adidas and Puma. You think whitegoods, you think Kelvinator, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys.

However, these brands haven’t always been the global sensations they are today. Sure, they might dominate the market now, but have you stopped to consider they once began as small franchises, just like you?

The key to building brand awareness these days is search engine optimisation – SEO. With new competition constantly on the rise, it’s vital for small businesses to get themselves noticed and hovering on their consumers’ radars. In a world saturated by digitalisation, SEO is the first step towards spruiking your business and creating a loyal fan base.

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Organic SEO looks a little different these days…

The inner tapestries of SEO have shifted, re-weaving themselves to ultimately create a new model. Perhaps it helps to highlight some of the major differences that have occurred over recent years. Where keyword-stuffing was once glorified, the focus is now planted on producing well-written copy that features keywords in a very natural manner. Similarly, new SEO techniques are cropping up and dominating the stage, such as content marketing and voice and video search.

Hence, to drive a successful SEO campaign these days, you need to tailor your technique to appeal to your digital audience. Google’s algorithm is much more concentrated on satisfying its users – according to Joshua Guerra, CEO of marketing firm BIZCOR, it’s about driving “optimal user experience while performing methodic SEO strategies”.

SEO is ideal for small businesses with small marketing budgets

While all businesses can benefit from SEO, it is particularly ideal for small businesses. Why? Well, it’s not going to stop working any time soon, it’s where all your competitors are nabbing leads, and perhaps most significantly, it’s highly cost-effective. When you consider other digital marketing strategies like PPC advertising and social media marketing, SEO offers a comparatively decent ROI. Contrasted against more traditional methods like television and print ads, and the ROI is even greater.

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SEO remains a bedrock for turbo-charging your brand’s success

No, SEO isn’t magic, but it should definitely provide the basis for a solid marketing plan. Here’s why:

  • Boosts brand visibility. Recent studies have shown that the first position on Google search results generates more than a third of total page click-throughs. The whole idea of SEO is to keep bumping your website up the ranks of Google’s ladder so you are literally smack-bang in front of your target market. Furthermore, it might be worthwhile to note that 81% of shoppers research products, services and brands online before making a big purchase – therefore if you’re not hovering somewhere on page one of Google search results, you risk becoming completely obsolete to potential customers.
  • Adds credibility to your business. Google constantly crawls websites, sifting through the ones they deem ‘credible’ and tossing aside those that aren’t. The ones that meet the search engine’s expectations rank higher on search results, which inevitably affects the behaviour of users – even if they aren’t conscious of it. It’s a case of: ‘if that massive search engine we all rely on says this business is reliable, then it surely must be’. Still not convinced? Let’s paint an analogy using old search methods. When looking for a particular service via Yellow Pages, most people would have started on the first page and rarely worked their way through each listing, right? The same concept applies to Google search results. If you’re in need of a plumber, you’re most likely going to pluck one from the first page generated by the search terms you’ve plugged in.
  • Provides unmatched insight into customer behaviour. Previous marketing methods had business owners doing a bit of guesswork into deciphering which tactics were fruitful and which ones flopped. The beauty of digital marketing is that there exists a multitude of tools for tracking and recording your campaigns. Google Analytics monitors the flow of traffic reaching your site through SEO measures, then delivers refined data and metrics on how users are searching online: what they’re browsing, the language they’re employing, the technology they’re using, their geographical location, the days and times they’re most active – the list goes on. SEO gifts business owners with extremely valuable, real-time insight into how consumers respond to their digital presence, meaning they can make informed decisions in regards to their business strategies – both online and offline.
  • Reaps in organic traffic. SEO is an inbound marketing strategy. It’s not about convincing users to engage with your brand, but rather about offering something consumers are already actively searching for. Unlike other marketing methods, you’re not forcing your brand into your consumers’ lives. In this regard, half the battle is already won; now you just have to show people why your business is the ideal choice for them.

Though SEO practices are certainly evolving, an optimised website remains your best (and most cost-effective) shot at battling bigger competitors, anchoring your online presence and most significantly, reaping in customers.

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By Patricia O'Loughlin


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