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Is SEO Worth It For Small Business

Graphic symbolizing Search Engine Optimization.

Author: Shenole Latimer

Is SEO worth it for small business? The simple and direct answer is yes! There you have it, the blog post is done...next question, please.

Well, I’m sure you know there is more to it than just a yes, right? It’s all well and good to know that SEO is valuable to small businesses, or any business for that matter, but it would probably be good to know why it is worth investing in.

Let’s take a quick second to unpack that last sentence I wrote. I used the words “valuable”, “why”, and “investing”. Those words were not used by accident.

SEO will bring value to your company. That value comes in the form of driving more traffic to your website, some of which will ultimately convert and cause an increase in your sales.

Then there are reasons regarding “why” SEO is valuable. We will get to that later when we discuss what search engine optimization can do for your small business.

And finally, there is the fact that the gains of properly done SEO are often not immediate. And so like any other “investment”, it takes time.

However, before we get into all of that, it might be a good idea to take a deeper dive into what SEO is, just in case there are any readers who are not fully savvy to the meaning of the term.

What Is SEO

Small business owner shrugging in uncertainty

SEO is an initialism, which is an abbreviation formed by the first letter of each word that is used in that name or short phrase. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Simply put, search engine optimization is presenting your website and its contents in such a way that it is more easily indexed and favorably ranked by search engines.

Furthermore, the more boxes you can check-off with regards to the criteria the search engine uses to index your website, the more likely that search engine will be to reward your site with a better ranking.

Nobody knows what all of the criteria are that search engines like Google use to determine where a website should rank in a search engine result page (SERP).

Search engines of one form or another have been around since the beginning of the internet itself. And since the existence of search engines, people have worked to find ways to get their website to rank as high as possible. Higher rankings lead to more traffic and more traffic can lead to the potential for more sales.

Black Hat & White Hat SEO

As with just about anything else that has guidelines to be followed, there are people who follow the rules and people who try to game the system. In the world of SEO, those two types of approaches are known as:

  • Black Hat SEO - Techniques and approaches are used to try and take advantage of loopholes or otherwise get around certain known ranking factors that a search engine uses to index and rank a website.

  • White Hat SEO - An approach that emphasizes following best-established practices for getting a website indexed and ranked by a search engine.

Following black hat methods can yield faster and sometimes more impressive results. This comes at a high cost because black hat methods that work today inevitably won’t work tomorrow.

Once a search engine’s algorithm updates and catches up to the black hat method(s) used, that website can see a massive drop in performance and rankings that take a longer time to make up than if the website’s owner did not try to game the system in the first place.

One example of a black hat SEO tactic was a practice that was done in the early 2000s. Website owners would try to stuff their website with important keywords that were repeated over and over again in blocks.

The text containing these keywords would be the same color as the website’s background so that the keywords would be effectively invisible to the visitor, but not to the search engine.

For example. Let’s say you were a plumber and you wanted to rank well for the term “clogged sinks”. You might want content that said something like this:

“Use Joe The Plumber to take care of your clogged sinks. Joe is highly skilled and will not cause damage to your kitchen or bathroom to get to the problem.

Call (123) 456-7890 for an estimate today!”

So, a website owner using black hat methods circa 2000 might do something like include the word “clogged sinks” a bunch of times in the open space of the text like this:

“Use Joe The Plumber to take care of your clogged sinks. Joe is highly skilled and will not cause damage to your kitchen or bathroom to get to the problem.

clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks

Call (123) 456-7890 for an estimate today!”

Next, they would give the text of the block containing all of the “clogged sinks” mentions the same color as the page’s background like this:

“Use Joe The Plumber to take care of your clogged sinks. Joe is highly skilled and will not cause damage to your kitchen or bathroom to get to the problem.

clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks clogged sinks

Call (123) 456-7890 for an estimate today!”

If you are on a desktop computer, notice how you can hold down your left click button and drag your cursor across the seemingly empty space and see all of the words that are hidden there.

If you are on a mobile device like a phone or tablet, you may have to double-tap the empty space to be able to highlight a small portion of the hidden text there. Then you would be able to drag your cursor across it to see all of the hidden text.

This was a very common black hat method for gaining high rankings in a search engine. However, when the algorithms of various search engines were updated to catch this practice, those websites often saw unsurmountable drops in their traffic virtually overnight.

Following white hat SEO practices is the best way to ensure long term compliance with the ranking factors of search engines, even through algorithm updates.

The Sophistication of Modern Search Engine Result Pages

Search engines, especially Google, have reached an astounding level of sophistication in just the last 3 to 5 years, let alone considering how far they have come since their inception!

Google now incorporates several types of search results in addition to the traditional organic listings. Current users of Google’s search engine now can get such results on their SERP as:

  • Local Pack - This is the section on a SERP where a map is displayed and the 3 search results that are the most relevant and closest to your current position are displayed under that map.

    Google search result showing the local pack

  • Featured Snippet - Also known as “position zero”, this coveted SERP spot appears at the very top of the results page and so understandably receives the most traffic of any other ranking position.

    Example of a featured snippet also called position zero

  • Graph - As a sort of variation of the snippet, this result block will often feature some sort of graph or table, and is placed at the top of the page.

    A graph search result for Google.

  • Videos - These results will usually be generated when a query on how to do something is made. Like graph results, videos appear at the top of the page.

    A Google SERP showing video listings in position zero

With new formats to search results come both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses looking to invest in search engine optimization.

What Factors Into The Ranking Of Your Website

Image illustrated some of the aspects of SEO.

The trick here is that nobody knows for sure what ALL of the factors are that Google and other search engines use for ranking. They are kept a closely guarded secret by the search engines. We can only go by what little they do tell us and some educated guesses.

That said, any company offering SEO services needs to concern themselves with factors like:

  • The quality of your website’s content

  • The quality of your website’s code

  • What positions in the SERPs do your competition occupy and what has placed them there

  • The loading speed of your website, especially on mobile devices

  • The analytics of your traffic

  • What search terms are driving your traffic

  • Which of your website’s pages are performing well, which ones are not, and why

  • The backlinking to your website

  • How long are visitors staying on your website

These are only a few of the factors that are known to affect a company’s search engine rankings.

What Can Search Engine Optimization Do for Your Lakeland, FL Small Business

Lakeland is a town that is located in central Florida. Doing a search on the Manta.com business listing platform, you can see that Lakeland’s business community is composed of over 30,000 businesses. The vast majority of those are small businesses.

With tens of thousands of businesses, and all of them fighting for attention and customers, the importance of being able to find and convert leads should be self-evident.

But guess what?

Take a look around the town of Lakeland, FL and you will see construction everywhere...new luxury apartment complexes, new homes and neighborhoods, shopping center upgrades. Lakeland is growing...fast.

Soon there will be a lot of new residents who are looking for various services or merchandise.

How optimized is your company’s website to be positioned well for discovery by any new residents that will be turning to Google to be told where they can get local services or merchandise?

By having your website and its content optimized for search engines, you are putting yourself in a stronger position to be placed in higher search engine rankings.

Higher search engine rankings = more leads = more opportunities to convert leads = more profits!

This formula applies to any small or mid-sized business anywhere in the United States and not just in Lakeland, FL. Any company that can leverage properly done SEO will be on the path to strong growth and will enjoy an unfair advantage over competitors.

Furthermore, strong positioning of the search engine rankings for your business can also:

  • Bring greater brand awareness

  • Project more authoritativeness of your business over its competitors

  • Build trust among those who find you at the top of the SERP for their query

  • Save money from using more traditional, less effective marketing techniques

  • Receive a higher Return On Investment (ROI) than more traditional marketing techniques

These are factors that not only help to generate leads, but to more importantly convert those leads!

How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work

Woman checking her watch for the time.

I have never had a conversation with someone about SEO where they didn’t eventually ask me how long does it take for it to work.

As business owners who are concerned about our bottom line, we want things that can bring us gains immediately. The truth of the matter is that SEO, on average, can take a few months to work.

Why can it take so long?

Well, there are a number of factors that are influencers. For example, how strong is your website’s domain authority? If you don’t know what domain authority is, here is an article where I explain all about it. Domain authority is something that takes time to acquire.

A couple of other very important factors are how competitive your industry is as well as how competitive your region is. The more competitive either is, the longer it can take.

If you are a locksmith in New York City, it may take you more than a year to achieve the sort of rankings you desire. Meanwhile, if you are a locksmith in Lakeland, FL it may only take you 4 to 6 months. Then again, if you are the only locksmith in a small rural town and there are no locksmiths within 100 miles of you, you will probably rank #1 for your service area within a few days!

There are quite a number of other factors, but one that is often not mentioned is how well-established the online presence of your competitors? Have they had time to establish their online presence and their brand the right way? If so, then they have a headstart in the race.

We’re ready to help your company use local and traditional SEO to gain more leads.

SEO is definitely worth it for small businesses. This is true no matter where your company is located within the United States, but it is even more true in areas that are in the middle of or about to see rapid growth, like Lakeland, FL.

The thing to remember is that search engine optimization is an investment and is also a series of on-going tasks that must be done. By no means is it fire and forget!

A good analogy would be that it is very much like trying to maintain a good looking lawn. You must mow it every week and make sure it gets the proper amount of water or it will look raggedy in short order. Likewise, certain SEO tasks must be done on a regular basis in order to maintain good rankings.

If you are ready to gain more leads and grow your business by leveraging our seo services, give us a call at (863) 877-4200. We would be happy to give you a free consultation so you can see how our white hat SEO services can benefit your business.


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