Why Is SEO Important For Small Businesses?

I get asked this question all the time, and it’s usually one of the first things prospective clients asks me. I thought I’d just put together a little roundup to explain – so why is SEO important for small businesses?

Firstly, what is SEO?

SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization”, and is essentially the process of making your website as appealing as possible to search engines (mainly Google).

This can be achieved through both on-page and off-page modifications. On-page SEO mainly involves keywords, content writing and images/videos.

Off-page SEO looks at backlinks (links from other sites that lead to your site) and generally how “popular” your site is across the web.

So why is SEO important?

Well, if you have a website, you’re already part of the way there to getting more business online. However, without SEO you aren’t going to show up on Google, Bing or Yahoo; and unless you have another method of getting traffic, no one is actually going to see your site.

So what use is that fancy site if no one actually ends up seeing it – and more importantly, it doesn’t bring you any business?

You may try PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising through Google or social media, or maybe an organic or pad social media campaign. But in my opinion a high Google ranking is a lot more effective and sustainable for getting recurring business.

But how do search engines work?

Google (and other search engines) use an “algorithm”- aka a set off rules it uses to check your site, and everyone else’s, for certain criteria that they then use to decide how best to display this information to someone using their search page.

These algorithms rely on two main factors;

  1. On-page SEO
  2. Off-page SEO

On-page SEO is anything that is one the page/in the code of the website. Off-page SEO is anything off of the site, like backlinks, or social media posts.

On-page SEO has pretty much remained unchanged over the years however Google is always updating their algorithm to punish spam in SEO and only display real, useful results.

The most recent of said updates is named “Pigeon“. It’s fairly complicated to explain what the update actually does, but in simple terms it makes it easier for local businesses to be shown on Google.

Previously you could type in “plumber” and Google would display some local map results at the top of the page – but the rest of the results would be random and it would show websites selling plumbing materials and training and all sorts of other irrelevant sites.

What happens now is Google figures out where you are, and gives preference to the sites of businesses in your immediate area. So now if you type in “plumber” (go on try it!) it will only display plumbers in and around your area.

Calgary SEO Plumber Results

Notice how all of these results are in Calgary?

And please understand that this is the same for any kind of small/local business in any area.

This makes local SEO important to every small business out there. This is obviously a big deal for small businesses as they can now get shown on page one of Google in their local area!

Essentially what the Google update means is that small and local businesses can now get higher on Google than they ever could before and with a lot less work too.

A quick statistic for those that don’t know; last year 72.8% of searchers didn’t make it past the first page. That only leaves 27.2% for every other page and how many do you think make it past the second page?

The chart below accurately displays this as well as what percentage on average clicks on each position.

SEO Report Chart

It also means that if you’re not on page one, no one will find you.

Having a site which doesn’t rank well in search engines is like having a brick and mortar shop hidden away in a back alley. You may know you’re there, you’re existing customers might too, but no one else does.

Getting ranked on Google means people find your site on purpose, not by accident.

The SEO process is a lot more complicated than I’ve outlined here, but I hope that you now see what makes SEO important for your local business.

Does your site do well on search engines? What tactics are you finding most beneficial? Let us know in the comments!

Tom Watts

AvatarTom is the proud Owner of Top Shelf Media in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's a seasoned blogger who writes about all things related to online marketing, web design and SEO. Feel free to ask him anything!

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