If you think SEO is an old buzzword, think again. SEO, or search engine optimization, is not only still relevant, it's more important than ever. In short, SEO helps Google and other search engines find your business. And in today's world, where nearly 80 percent of customers search online prior to making a purchasing decision, it's vital for businesses to optimize their websites for the search engines.
Kelly Shelton, vice president of marketing at Boo-stability, an online marketing firm, explains that SEO helps businesses work in sync with Google's search algorithms.
"SEO is what will land your company on Google's first page," says Shelton. "Everyone goes to Google when they have a question--any type of question. So it's important that Google delivers the best results, which is exactly what their algorithms attempt to do. They rank businesses based on factors like relevance, trust and popularity. For example, they look at how people get to a website, how long they stay there, how many people are linking to them. SEO, of course, plays a huge role in all of this."
Even though a majority of today's consumers search online prior to making a purchase, many companies have a weak online presence and some even have no website at all.
"Some businesses think that they'll never be able to compete with the big box stores or that SEO is too expensive. Many of those businesses haven't converted to the digital world--about 40 percent of small businesses don't even have a website," says Shelton. "But more and more businesses are realizing the power of the internet and seeing that most consumers are relying on it."
If your business hasn't taken advantage of SEO to improve your search rankings, there's good news: it's not too late to get started, and it's easier and less expensive than ever before. But you've got to do it right.
"When businesses think about SEO, the first thing that often pops in their minds is that they'll have to work with an expensive agency. So, they might try to find a different route, like a do-it-yourself plan or an overseas service," explains Shelton. "Those services might be affordable, but they're not as effective and they don't give you everything your business needs."
Creating and maintaining an online presence can be overwhelming, especially for small business owners who have limited time and cash. And SEO is just one piece of the puzzle that you've got to get right. So, what's a small business without the resources of a big...