Have you ever wondered, what is SEO exactly? The reason we all use Google for every single question we have in life is because the search engine never fails to give us what we want instantly. How that happens is that every time we make a search, Google crawls billions of web pages and returns the most relevant content. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website to a point that Google favours it as the best search result for a specific query in the organic section. By doing SEO well, you will be able to significantly increase the quality and quantity of your web traffic, most of the time resulting in increased leads and sales.
So, why SEO? Unless you are a major brand or are on the first page of Google, chances are no one will have heard of you, search for you and visit your website. It does not matter that you had the best web designer design your website, nor that you have a best solution to the biggest problem, nor that your product is 10x cheaper than your closest competitor, if you are not optimising your website for Google, you are not going to get any traffic. If you are not appearing on the first page of search results when your prospective customers are making a search, you are essentially handing them over to your competitors. Being on the first page allows you to present your brand as the solution to the immediate problem customers are facing.
Importance of SEO for small businesses. SEO is widely regarded as the most cost-effective digital marketing channel. The only cost is producing content that answers the questions your target audience are asking. Whether this is outsourced or done in-house, the dollar value and Return on Investment (ROI) far surpasses traditional marketing or advertising methods. By ranking on the first page, you give your business a chance to meet your customers at the perfect time in their buying process, right when they are either ready to buy or feeling and immense pain that needs relief. If you are able to provide valuable information that addresses their pains, establish your brand as an expert and offer a viable solution, you are more likely to be the chosen solution.
Link building for SEO. While on-page SEO (Page content, website speed, image alt texts etc.) plays a part in how websites rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), a large part of how search engines rank a website is based on the number and quality of backlinks a website has. Search engines take backlinks as a vote of trust for the page that is being linked to. Naturally, big brands will have different websites linking to them without having to do an outreach. Think of brands like Apple, Samsung and Singapore Airlines. People will always be talking about them, therefore creating tons of backlinks. As a small company, we do not have such a luxury. We will have to go out and look for link building opportunities. This can be done in house if you have enough manpower and an SEO expert who can plan the strategy, or it can be outsourced to a company that provides corporate SEO services.
Choosing the right strategy for success. Now that you know how big a part backlinks play in Google rankings, it is extremely important to choose the right keyword strategy. There are two kinds of key phrases that people search for: buying keywords and research keywords. Let’s say you are a divorce lawyer, a buying keyword for you would be ‘Lawyer in Singapore’. While it definitely has a large search volume, it is extremely competitive. The big law firms that have been around for a long time now are probably spending a lot of money every month on SEO and would already have accumulated tens of thousands of backlinks. To attempt to go up against them as a new and small law firm would almost always lead to disappointment, unless of course you have the marketing war chest to compete. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will be able to overtake them for these keywords.
That does not mean that SEO is not for small firms. There are still a lot of other keywords to go for, especially research ones. Going back to the example of a lawyer, a good research keyword would be ‘divorce process in Singapore’. This key phrase would firstly be less competitive as big firms tend to go for buying keywords, giving small firms a chance to rank on the top page in a shorter period of time. More importantly, this key phrase is specific to the needs of the searcher, signifying a greater buying intent. If you are able to educate the searcher on the process of divorce in Singapore and offer your solution, there is a good chance that you will receive a call.
As a small company, it is extremely important that you are allocating a decent budget to position yourself in front of your buyers when they are looking for solutions, and that you choose the right battles to fight and not waste your precious resources going up against the established companies who have already built themselves a massive lead.