Working closely with small business has given us a great insight into the day-to-day challenges small business owners face. One of them is staying competitive in an increasingly online-dominated world where unless you are one of the top Google search results, you are doomed. So why is it that even today many small companies feel daunted by the thought of SEO?
Small businesses are still struggling to find their feet when it comes to online marketing. On one hand you have SEO specialists who struggle to explain complex terminology such as no following links, editorial appropriateness, link building strategies in an understandable manner. On the other hand you have small business owners worrying about making payroll and potentially losing focus and time of more immediate issues in their businesses.
Many feel like they can’t compete with the ‘big guys’ out there simply because they don’t have the money or the manpower to achieve real SEO success. These technologies are somehow reserved for the big multinational corporations with deep pockets and whole departments dedicated to online marketing.
So before we tackle how small business owners can approach the issue of online marketing with confidence, here are the top 3 reasons we found businesses struggle.
#1 Too expensive
SEO is pricey. Whether you consider the cost of outsourcing the task to an agency, hiring a person to come to you or even investing in learning the craft yourself, SEO is considered costly. It takes research, a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding out what works for you and what doesn’t and that costs money.
What’s more SEO and online marketing in general are highly competitive. With everybody fighting for those few top spots, you can see how the little fish in the very VERY big pond can feel overwhelmed. From establishing an initial presence (which takes a lot of effort) to creating the relevant content and maybe a link-building strategy, everything you do online is somehow associated with a cost. A cost, one-man show types of businesses on a shoestring budget find difficult to afford.
#2 Too complicated
The online marketing environment is a very complex and fast-moving one. What has worked for the last few weeks, might be outdated today and unless you have the time to put into it, you might as well not try at all.
Many entrepreneurs find the idea of having to keep up with the latest Google algorithm updates and formulas daunting. When it comes to the practical side of things, for somebody to dedicate 3 hours to online marketing that means that they have just taken 3 hours off doing some of the other business-related tasks such as dealing with accounting, HR, deliveries etc.
#3 Time consuming
Good SEO isn’t something that is done in a week. Done properly, it takes good few months to set up and you can expect actual results between 6 and 12 months after that. What’s more, there is a lot of planning that goes into a good SEO campaign that involves on-page SEO, social marketing routines, e-mail marketing and lead capturing, and onsite improvements.
SEO is a long-term project that requires a certain amount of time devoted to it, and as you can imagine, time is a scarce resource in a small business environment when the owner has to wear a few hats at a time.
These are the main reasons we found small business owners have reservations about online marketing. But that’s not the end! In fact we’ve seen many small companies taking on internet marketing and achieving fantastic results. Here are the 3 easiest ways you can overcome the feeling of doubt and face the dragon (the dragon being Google)
#1 Start learning
Online marketing is really not that complicated of a subject. Everybody feels overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information at the beginning, but soon enough most find out what works for them and what doesn’t. For a small business marketing strategy to be successful you really don’t need all the bells and whistles associated with SEO strategies. You can easily get acquainted with the basics by reading Webmaster blogs, watching YouTube videos and downloading free beginners guides that readily available. SEO shouldn’t intimidate you. It should inspire you!
Alternatively, you can hire a person to do it all for you!
#2 Evaluate your options
Continuing from the previous point, you can take your SEO in your own hands, or you can assign the responsibility to somebody else. Not all agencies charge an arm and a leg for their services, alternatively you can consider hiring a freelancer remotely or somebody on part-time basis.
Online marketing is an increasingly popular skill and many people will be more than happy to do the work for you for a fraction of the cost big agencies charge. Bottom line is, there are many options when it comes to internet marketing and search engine optimization. Evaluate your options and pick what’s right for you and your business.
#3 Focus locally
Big brands often overlook niche and local markets. If you run a small coffee shop in central London, you might be competing with businesses like Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dominate your local market with a well-tailored SEO strategy.
You can program your online presence in such a way that it shows up on local and centralized searches. You can cater for local businesses via delivering beverages and snacks or a loyalty scheme. There are options and being small doesn’t mean that you can’t win your fair share of the market.
Understanding the basic tenets of SEO will keep your business relevant and searchable, which will amount to added business and web traffic. You’ve probably heard that time and time again and merely hearing and reading about SEO brings a confused or overwhelmed expression to your face. The good news is, you are not alone! There are virtually thousands of businesses out there who are facing exactly the same struggles as you are. The bad news is, online marketing is here to stay so might as well put your big girl/boy pants on and face the challenge head-on!