Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.—James Cash Penney, founder of JCPenney
The path to growth for startups and small businesses is not due to a singular business process or function. Instead, businesses grow as a result of strong processes and functions working together to create an integrated, dynamic company.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that startups and small businesses should invest in as a staple of their growth models.
A strong SEO strategy fuels business growth through increasing engagement, producing qualified leads, and driving conversions.
Like any other core business process or function, SEO comes at a cost. It entails highly complex and technical work. In order to maintain an effective SEO strategy, a small business/startup needs to devote ample resources towards its success.
For many small businesses and startups, however, the money for bringing in external resources to help with SEO services is simply unavailable.
But if you have the guts and will to start your own business, you can handle SEO. There are critical, manageable SEO services that startups can carry out in-house.
Three SEO services that are particularly manageable in-house are local SEO optimization, content strategy, and social media.
Small businesses and startups should create and invest in an in-house SEO strategy. This strategy should focus on these manageable SEO services so that you can help your business grow.
This article explains the value of an SEO strategy. The post will outline how these three SEO services in particular help to fuel startup and small business growth by driving online exposure and engagement.
Understanding SEO and Its Value
To create and carry out an effective SEO strategy, businesses first need to fully understand what SEO is. SEO is a blanket term that describes services and efforts designed to increase traffic to a website through organic search results.
The value of SEO for any company is based on the traffic that the top results of a given search query receive. The higher your site places in search results, the more traffic comes to your site.
Increased traffic creates more leads and signals to Google that your site is a relevant and popular destination for a certain search topic. This in turn further helps your site’s search ranking.
This positive feedback loop associated with SEO, while almost seeming idealistic, is exactly what a company should aim for with its SEO strategy.
Use In-House Resources for SEO Services
Google’s PageRank algorithm determines whether a certain key term earns top search results. Google considers a bevy of factors about a site, including complex technical structure and content.
Most small businesses are unlikely to have the talent or expertise to carry out a comprehensive, technical SEO strategy. However, growing companies that need help with SEO can refer to their most valuable asset: their employees.
There are simple, manageable SEO services you can perform in-house that will boost your revenue and expand your consumer base. These strategies drive exposure, draw traffic to your site, and draw links back to your site.
There are three very manageable SEO services around which growing businesses should base an in-house strategy. These are local SEO optimization, content strategy, and social media marketing.
1. Local SEO Optimization: Take Advantage of Local Directories
One category of SEO services that almost every small business needs to focus on in-house is local SEO.
Local SEO services help your site appear among the top search results for target terms in your location. Given the rising use of mobile search and location-based search queries, local SEO can make a big difference for a growing firm.
First and foremost, businesses need to claim their Google My Business listings. In addition to Google, claim and optimize your listing on online local directories, such as Yext, Angie’s List, and Yellowpages.
Optimizing your listing means ensuring that key information any potential customer might want about your business is available. Businesses should optimize their listings to the fullest extent possible.
For example, if a directory listing allows you to provide customer reviews and ratings for your company, allow the directories to display that info. The more information you can provide to an online customer, the better.
It is paramount that the information you list for your business is consistent across every listing you open, especially your name, address, and phone number (NAP).
It is an obvious benefit to provide accurate information to customers about your business. But consistent information also helps Google accurately index key information about your business and avoids common local ranking issues.
Local directories provide huge potential for businesses that operate primarily within a single location, and most small businesses do. These directories are relevant only to consumers of their local areas. So listing on these sites guarantees exposure to a key demographic—local consumers.
2. Content Strategy: Blogs and Article Marketing
Small businesses and startups can also turn to in-house teams to produce content for both on and off-site promotion efforts. Google favors high-quality and relevant content when ranking for search terms.
Great content directly addresses searcher intent and answers user questions. Creating high-quality content is time-intensive. However, your staff is the best resource to speak to your area of expertise in a unique way.
The strongest content strategy includes blogging on your own site and producing content to post and market on other sites.
Curating a business blog is more than just putting words on paper. Thinking it is only that is a mistake many businesses make. They know having a blog is important, but they fail to devote adequate resources to its upkeep.
Your content needs to be well-structured, high-quality and thought-provoking. If your content is not well-written or interesting, nobody will read it. Producing inferior content makes blogging a total waste of time.
It’s also important to note the difference between having a company blog and curating a company blog. You need to regularly post on your blog. If you are strapped for time, shoot for one post a month.
It’s not the end of the world if you miss a month or two, but consistency matters. The older content gets, the less relevant it becomes.
The second aspect of content strategy small businesses should invest in is article marketing. Produce articles to publish on other sites in order to draw links back to your site.
Use the same approach for article marketing that you do with your company blog. Article marketing allows you to display your content to audiences who would otherwise be unfamiliar with your site or company.
3. Social Media
Perhaps the most manageable SEO effort for small businesses and startups to carry out is social media. Social media creates potential for links back to your site, arguably the most important factor for determining search rankings.
Businesses can use social media to support and promote their content efforts. And Google often pulls social media posts for display in search results.
If your company does not currently use social media, start doing so immediately. Active social media channels allow small businesses and startups to increase exposure and traffic to their sites.
This increased exposure sends positive signals to Google about the relevance of your site to a certain topic. It also creates an opportunity to engage on a more granular level with target audiences. That engagement in turn increases the chance those users will click through to your site.
Small Businesses Can Use SEO to Spur Growth
Small businesses and startups should invest resources in SEO in order to help business growth. SEO helps companies achieve standards for business growth through engaging with target audiences through search. This engagement produces more leads, drives more conversions, and ultimately boosts revenue.
A full-scale SEO strategy involves highly complex technical efforts. Most small businesses and startups cannot afford professional SEO services. But they can look in-house to manage three SEO efforts—local SEO, content, and social media.
Together, these services create an SEO strategy that will enhance a company’s digital stature and drive awareness of its site. There is certainly a time commitment associated with SEO.
But the returns and potential for growth companies gain make SEO an important business function that small businesses and startups should pursue.
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- How Small Businesses and Startups Can Use SEO to Fuel Growth - November 22, 2017