What’s the most frequent thing you do online? If you’re like 68% of internet users, you typically rely on a search engine for your online interactions. That statistic can mean big bucks for small business owners who know how to capitalize on search engine optimization (SEO).
If you find yourself wondering, “Is SEO worth it for small businesses?” you’re not alone. In fact, 70% of small business owners don’t have an SEO strategy in place. This means that small business owners who do invest in SEO wind up with a huge leg up over their competition. Read on to learn why SEO is absolutely worth it for small businesses in 2023 and how you can improve your site’s SEO (without breaking the bank).
Why SEO Is Important for Small Businesses
If you’re looking at your 2023 budget and asking yourself, “Is SEO worth it for small business owners?” we get it!
B2B companies should be budgeting anywhere from 2-5% of their earnings on marketing each year, while B2C companies should expect to spend 5-10% of their revenue on marketing. For large businesses, that works great. But small or medium businesses (SMB) may be working with a tight marketing budget, and finding ways to cut down on marketing expenses is a necessary part of the decision-making process.
That being said, the importance of SEO for small businesses cannot be overstated. SEO drives organic traffic to your website. Content creation is especially good at this and can drive new traffic to your site months or even years after its initial creation.
And for small businesses with physical storefronts, prioritizing local SEO can greatly increase brand awareness in your community. Every week, a third of online shoppers use the internet to locate local businesses. By focusing on local SEO, you jettison your brand ahead of competitors in your area and capitalize on these location-based searches.
Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses (SMB)
The average cost of SEO for small businesses can feel like a gut punch for SMB owners who feel like they’re barely treading water. But that’s just it — without investing in smart marketing strategies, your business will feel like it’s barely staying afloat.
Consider the fact that business owners who do spend $500 in SEO each month are 53.3% more likely to call themselves “extremely satisfied” with their marketing results than businesses who either don’t bother with SEO at all or who pay nominal fees for the cheap SEO scams that simply don’t work. When done correctly, SEO works well and can offer significant boons to your business.
There are three main ways that SEO benefits your business: it attracts new customers, establishes credibility and brand visibility, and offers long-term returns. Let’s take a look at each of these factors to see how they work together to make SEO a worthwhile investment for your brand.
Attracting New Customers
The first way that SEO benefits small businesses is by attracting new customers.
Think about what you do when you use a search engine to look for an answer to a question. Do you scroll through pages upon pages of search results, or do you click the first couple of links and roll with what they’re saying?
If you’re like most people, you do the latter. Search engine optimization is all about routing customers who search for topics in your niche to your website. By answering the most important questions on your topic better than your competitors, you can receive a steady inflow of new customers who may never have heard of your brand but are certainly interested in your area of expertise.
Local SEO can take this a step further and actually bring customers to your front door. After all, customers most often use local SEO keywords, such as “near me,” when they’re actively looking to visit a business and spend money. Therefore, ranking higher for these local keywords can bring significant monthly revenue.
Establishing Credibility & Brand Visibility
The second way that SEO can impact your SMB is by establishing credibility in your industry and increasing brand visibility.
Pretend, for a moment, that you’re an active parent who homeschools their child. Every month, you might look online for homeschooling tips and tricks, homeschool routines, or homeschool unit studies. At first, you’re not looking to buy anything — you’re just dabbling in the homeschooling process. But for months and months, the same brand or two shows up when you’re doing research.
When you finally decide to invest in homeschooling products, are you going to shop with any old brand? Or will you invest in the brand that has consistently provided you with high-quality information about educating your child?
This is the power of search engine optimization. Creating regular, high-quality content that provides genuine value to your target audience cements your brand in their minds.
Search engine optimized content creation provides an avenue for nurturing leads consistently, priming them to shop with your brand when they’re ready to make their next purchase in your industry.
Most marketing campaigns are time-sensitive. For example, you might run a television ad for a week or a month, but once that time period is over, your business no longer reaps the benefits of that advertising stream.
Search engine optimization works differently. In fact, you may not see an immediate result when you post SEO-rich content. Instead, you’ll see a steady growth in profits, followed by a plateau of long-term, consistent returns on your marketing investment. And evergreen content pages that initially rank high but fall in rankings can often be refreshed and empowered for a fraction of the cost that it took to create the content initially.
How Long Before SEO Generates Results
Search engines like Google reward consistency. This means that blogs that have been around for longer and have consistent content published may rank better than new blogs with high-quality content.
How long it takes your company to begin seeing results from your investment in SEO will depend on several factors, including:
- How many other businesses are in your niche and competing for the same keywords
- How many people are online searching for the topics you’re writing on
- The quality of the content you’re producing
- The level of search engine optimization you do
- The number of inbound links you manage to accrue
Understandably, businesses want to see a quick return on their investment. However, remember that SEO is focused on providing long-term returns and future-proofing your business. Over time, it will create a continual, built-in advertising stream. But it takes a while to get there. Experts predict that a business can take anywhere from four months to a year to see results from a focus on SEO. But once you start seeing those results, you can expect them to continue and even improve over time.
Does SEO Work for Small Businesses?
At this point, the big question remaining is not whether SEO can work; rather, the question is, is SEO worth it for small businesses? Is it worth investing your limited marketing dollars in a long-term marketing strategy, or would you be better off with a short-term marketing strategy like Facebook ads or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising?
First of all, you don’t have to choose between SEO and traditional advertising. In fact, SEO works best when paired with link-building and PPC advertising efforts. However, if you’re forced to pick one over the other, SEO is smart for small and medium businesses.
Search engine optimization can generate sales both online and in person. And a focus on SEO can continue to bolster your business far longer than any single ad campaign, future-proofing you against uncertain budgets or needs down the road.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top reasons SEO does work for small businesses.
Yes, SEO Can Generate Sales for Your SMB
When you first start with SEO, you may wonder if this marketing strategy can generate sales for your business. Remember: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. A good SEO analyst will keep an eye on key performance indicators, including which pages create leads and how many of those leads convert into paying customers. In addition, SEO is an art form; it takes finesse and tweaking to perfect. But if you remain dedicated to the process, SEO can absolutely generate sales — above and beyond many other marketing strategies.
Earlier, we discussed the fact that most small businesses that invest in SEO are very satisfied with their choice to do so. That wouldn’t be the case if SEO didn’t work. In fact, SEO drives 1,000% more traffic than social media.
Local SEO can be an especially pivotal place for small businesses to focus their energies. People who search for businesses near their location are almost always looking to visit those locations; 76% of searchers are looking for a local business visit within 24 hours.
Better ROI Than Other Marketing Efforts
One of the top reasons to invest in SEO, above and beyond other marketing efforts, is that it provides a better return on investment (ROI). In fact, experts calculate the ROI of SEO at 22:1. This means that for every dollar your business spends on SEO, you can expect to see a return of approximately $22. If you compare that to the 2:1 average ROI of pay-per-click advertising, it’s easy to see that SEO is the smart place to spend your marketing dollars.
SEO and PPC Can Work Together
While SEO is a powerful marketing strategy providing a great ROI, you don’t have to abandon all other marketing strategies to make it work. In fact, SEO works best when integrated into a rich marketing strategy that includes social media and — yes — PPC advertising.
PPC advertising is a great way to test different content pages and how quickly they provide a return on your investment. By determining which pages convert most quickly, you can identify your strongest pages and locate the best search terms to target.
By continually pairing strong SEO with equally strong PPC advertising, you can reduce the amount of time it takes for your SEO strategy to pay off. And once your website has a reputation for producing high-quality, high-ranking content, it becomes much easier for future content pieces to rank high in search engines as well.
Is SEO Worth It for Small Businesses in 2023? Absolutely!
It should be clear that search engine optimization is absolutely worth it for small and medium businesses in 2023. While you can’t expect to see results immediately, focusing on search engine optimization will position your brand to outpace your competition over time. By showing yourself to be an industry leader and producing continual, high-quality content, you can build brand recognition, nurture trust with new and existing leads, and show your customers that your company cares about providing genuine value to their lives.