Businesses of every size have felt the pinch as their teams have adapted to changing regulations, layoffs, profit cuts and consumer expectations over the past year. Over 40% of small businesses closed during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, and 25% of adults were impacted by layoffs. As vaccine rollouts continue and a potential return to the office looms, most business owners are well over a year into a series of dramatic strategic pivots unlike any crisis they’ve experienced before.
No matter the size of the business or the scrappiness of the entrepreneur, there is one tool that’s universally helpful in ensuring your business remains competitive in the coming months — SEO. Despite being a critical factor in generating new business leads online, less than half of small businesses are currently investing in SEO. The most successful businesses know, however, that those customer conversions lie at the top of the organic search results. In fact, the first page of Google’s results captures a staggering 92% of all traffic.
Here, we’ll explore how a strong SEO strategy can help entrepreneurs, and businesses of any size, to succeed in the competitive online marketplace in 2021 and beyond.
SEO can guide your content strategy.
SEO is a critical tool in helping businesses to leverage their content to attract the right target audience. Ultimately, Google aims to offer its users the best possible experience by delivering relevant, credible search results. By crafting your content strategy around the factors that drive strong SEO performance, businesses owners can cut out irrelevant content and offer the most beneficial blogs, podcasts, posts and guides for their audiences and reel in new visitors.
One example of this is in Google’s E-A-T approach, one of many components the search engine provider uses in its site rankings. If a business is seeking to showcase its expertise, following the SEO-guided structure of prioritizing content that delivers expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness can be the crux of a successful content strategy.
By extension, SEO also lays the foundation for what not to include in your business content strategy, enabling entrepreneurs and marketers to avoid “wasted time” on content that doesn’t move the needle for their target audience.
Often, there’s a misconception among business owners that a content strategy should blatantly promote their products and services, and focus exclusively on sales. But, in reality, that type of content doesn’t fare well on the results page.
SEO drives new leads and conversions.
A top ranking on the Google results page can be a valuable source of new leads and opportunities to connect with potential customers; it enables a business to get more clicks, boosts credibility and ultimately makes a website much easier to find. Further, a strong SEO strategy can help a business of any size to outshine its competitors simply by appearing a spot or two higher on the results page.
Google reports that 39% of online purchases have been influenced by a user search. Consider the conversions that might be possible for a software company, for example, who appears in the top search results for “corporate technology solutions” or a pizza franchise who ranks above their local competitors for “best pizza in Minnesota.”
Organic traffic also generates more traffic than other lead-generation strategies. SEO, for example, outperforms pay per click twenty times over, making it a better use of your business development budget than other marketing strategies might be.
SEO is a long-term success strategy
By investing time in a powerful SEO plan, businesses of any size can enact a long-term success strategy that can scale with the business. Because Google’s ranking factors are constantly changing, effective SEO requires an evolving approach. The good news is that a business of any size can learn the basics, and it’s never too early to enact the first steps of that long-term plan. Google offers tools, like its beginner SEO guides, to help point your web content in the right direction, and organic traffic is achievable by any site with a developer who is willing to do their homework.
For this reason, it’s possible for small businesses to take a do-it-yourself approach to SEO in the early days of the business, and then eventually hire a specialist to take their approach to the next level. Ultimately, to ensure the SEO strategy can scale alongside the business, a company that once handled their own web content might develop an entire SEO department or outsource to an agency they grow. The unfortunate reality for marketers today is that a majority of web content gets no traffic at all. The benefit, however, is that SEO is a universally accessible tool — and it can be the key for any business seeking to diversify their marketing strategy and find continued success as the post-pandemic economy comes over the horizon.