By Heather Murr, Project Manager
Recently a company reached out to work with us that provides a very specific service, and they are coming to Oklahoma to do some work for one of the surrounding small cities in our area. My first thought was I wonder why that city didn’t hire a local company. Surely a local company exists who could do this work. My next thought was, no, there HAS to be a company in the state that could provide that service! However, there is a very good chance that such a company or companies do not have an updated, technically sound website with search engine optimization (SEO) kept in mind.
If you’re a small and/ or local business owner reading this I know what you could be thinking. You might say, “ Heather, you just feel like having a website and investing in search engine optimization is important because it’s what you do for a living.”
You might also say, “I have successfully run a business without a website or investing in SEO for years.” If that is the case, you are not alone with many of the business owners we come in contact with. It always makes us happy to hear people have been able to run a successful business without having to spend a lot of money on marketing in the past. However, you don’t really know how much business you are missing out on if you are not investing in marketing and working towards some business goals.
One of the best compliments we can receive as a business is when someone actually asks us to scale back their marketing efforts because they cannot keep up with all their sales or customer needs. Until you hit that point as a business where you have to decide to make changes due to business going so well, you don’t really know how much business you’re missing out on.
So What is Search Engine Optimization anyway?
There’s a good chance that you have an idea what SEO is, but if you don’t, SEO or search engine optimization is a variety of technical and content best practices that we follow when building websites to help search engines like Google better find and rank your website. Furthermore, it involves many strategies that give you a presence on the Internet whether that is through a social media strategy, running digital ads, or listing your business information in search engine directories like Google and Bing.
How do I know what I’m getting if I invest in SEO?
To be completely honest, there is a lot of fraudulent activity in the world of SEO. Many businesses may be reluctant to invest in SEO because they don’t trust the person that pitches it to them, and they don’t understand what they are doing exactly. As a business we understand that completely. That is why we always give a basic analysis of our customers’ websites who are interested in SEO services with clear data, screenshots, and information they can understand.
It can be hard for a business owner to know that they are getting what they paid for without any data. If you hire someone to do SEO work, they should present you with clear plans of their intentions. Sometimes even the best SEO work takes months to make a difference, and you’re always at the mercy of search engines updating their algorithms. Still, a reputable company should be able to provide you with at least quarterly data. We prefer to provide monthly updates, even though the changes may be very small from month to month.
Why Does a Local Business Need SEO?
I get it, you might be thinking that your business is not a big brand that is competing with other big brands to win over consumers from across the country. Isn’t every business technically on the Internet these days? Why is word of mouth not enough? Isn’t having a social media page enough?
It’s true that word of mouth is very powerful. However, word of mouth now takes place in digital form. The vast majority of consumers are looking at your online presents and looking for reviews and recommendations of others online. And yes, online reviews can improve your website ranking!
You might discover that your business does show up if you search for it on Google. However, if you don’t own that Google Business Listing, Google is just assuming all sorts of information about your business. There may be incorrect data listed there that is driving away customers who are a great fit for your business.
Also, anyone can claim a Google business listing. Can you imagine what could happen if your listing becomes the ownership of a competitor?
How does a local business compete with someone investing more in SEO?
As a fellow small business, we are passionate about helping small businesses. We understand the frustration when you see people hire companies and don’t give any regard to choosing to work with a local company that can provide the same if not better service. You cannot control what your competitor does as far as any type of marketing including SEO.
Unfortunately other businesses may not be as ethical as you. There are companies that will try to advertise using keywords that are very specific to your own business and may spend thousands of dollars to do so. Search engines are working to combat unethical advertising practices all the time that are out of your control.
You can be proactive though and determine what makes sense for your business. I encourage you to contact us for an SEO audit. When you look at your own website and other platforms all the time, there are often simple things that you haven’t noticed from a consumer standpoint that can be easily approved upon. When we take a seamless look at all your marketing efforts, we always find areas to improve your online presence and search engine ranking.
Keep it local always and happy marketing!