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Why is SEO important for small businesses?

Why is SEO important: woman working at home

Key takeaways

  • SEO can help your business generate authority, traffic, and leads from your target audience without spending a dime on paid ads
  • Target local and long-tail keywords to minimize competition while focusing on your ideal customers
  • Build your online presence beyond your own website so search engines view your brand as trustworthy

With billions of web searches happening every day, search engines are undoubtedly a staple in our lives. Getting information, finding solutions, and discovering brands are as easy as entering a search term into a Google search

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of building website traffic by improving your search engine ranking, which is a great way for people to discover your brand. 

But why is SEO important exactly? SEO is important because it helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field and drives traffic to your website, while also helping you organically promote your business for free.

Why is SEO important for small businesses? 4 reasons

If you’re unsure about the importance of SEO, you’re not alone. Only 36% of small businesses actually have an SEO strategy. However, investing in search engine optimization can be worthwhile to help your business build trust, generate leads, and improve your return on investment. Plain and simple, SEO works. Here are four reasons to add SEO to your digital marketing strategy.

1. Become an authority in your industry

Modern search engine algorithms are highly skilled at ranking the most relevant web pages for users based on the search terms they enter in a search engine. If your website has a high ranking, it conveys a sense of trustworthiness and credibility, even if shoppers haven’t heard of your brand before.

Leveraging SEO to make your brand rank highly on relevant search engine results pages (SERPs) can help your audience view you as an authority in your field. As an industry leader, you can more easily persuade your website visitors to become leads or customers. Paired with a consistent brand marketing strategy, you can also boost customer loyalty and increase the value of your business name. Plus, with the right SEO techniques, you can rank above your competitors and earn a click (and a lead) before searchers even consider any other brand.

2. Increase your website traffic

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A large part of SEO involves improving where your website pages rank for target keywords. The higher you are, the more website traffic you’ll get since more than half of all website traffic comes straight from organic (unpaid) search results. In fact, the first organic result (a listing that shows up below paid ads) earns more than 28% of clicks on the average SERP. It’s safe to say that SEO is an effective way to boost your website traffic —particularly among your target audience

3. Reach your target market early in the buyer’s journey

When consumers recognize a pain point in their lives, many start searching for a solution on platforms like Google or Bing. While they may not be committed to making a purchase quite yet, they want to know their options. With strategic SEO, your website can provide the answers to members of your target market—and present your product or service as a solution. This allows you to generate brand awareness early into the buyer’s journey.

4. Promote your small business for free

SEO isn’t just effective, it’s also a free digital marketing tactic your business can easily put into action. Unlike search engine ads, search engine optimization is a practice that doesn’t require any monetary investment. As long as you have time to produce high-quality content for your potential customers, your web pages can start ranking higher, allowing you to land more leads without denting your budget. 

3 SEO tactics to get started

Getting to the first page of relevant search engine results happens through good SEO techniques. Follow these three simple SEO tactics to rank higher and reach more ideal customers.

1. Identify relevant keywords

Why is SEO important: close-up shot of a pair of hands typing on a laptop

Ranking for short keywords that are broad in scope, like “barbershop” or “nail art,” tends to be difficult for small businesses. These terms are incredibly competitive. Well-established brands with great content on their sites will rank higher and push smaller brands beyond the first page.

For small business SEO success, start by doing keyword research to find relevant search terms to target (these free research tools can help). Focus on finding long-tail keywords—for example, a spa could use “microdermabrasion for acne scars” or “what spa services are safe during pregnancy” because these are typical search queries.

While long-tail keywords get less traffic than shorter ones, they also have less competition. Small businesses can feasibly land on the first page of SERPs—sometimes as the first result—by producing relevant content that includes these niche terms.

If you run a brick-and-mortar store or have a service area, you should also make a list of local search terms, like “yoga studio denver” or “yoga near me.” Local SEO can help you rank high for researchers in your area, while eliminating your non-local competition.

You should also include targeted keywords in all your online listings, including your Yelp Business Page. The key phrases and terms you enter on Yelp will also help you get more organic visibility on Yelp. Each Yelp search starts with a need—having this section filled out as much as possible can take a potential customer from discovery mode into spending-money-at-your-business mode. 

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2. Optimize the user experience

Great SEO depends on more than content marketing and keyword research. You also need to create an excellent user experience. In addition to scanning your site for relevant keywords, search engines consider ranking factors like how fast your website loads and how organized your site structure is.

Having a mobile-friendly site is also crucial. More than 60% of all online searches are made on mobile devices, so search engines prioritize websites that offer a great mobile experience. Consider these mobile SEO tools to improve your user experience and maximize your SEO efforts.

3. Build your off-page SEO

Search engine optimization can occur off of your website too. Search engine algorithms often look at other websites to verify your business information and determine how trustworthy your site is.

One way to improve your off-site ranking is by claiming your Yelp Business Page. You can update your business information—including your business name, address, and phone number—to ensure it corresponds with the information on your site. Updating your information on other business directories can further signal to search engines that your site is one they can trust.

Link building is another SEO technique that can improve your ranking and boost organic traffic. Link building involves getting other websites to link to your site. When credible sites backlink to you (perhaps by guest posting on their blog), search engines are more likely to view you as a trustworthy source, which can help your web pages rank higher. Use tools like Moz’s domain authority checker to gauge a website’s credibility.

Add SEO to your marketing strategy and watch your business grow

To wrap up, why is SEO important? Search engine optimization helps your business generate website traffic from valued customers while building trust and beating out your competition. The best part? SEO can be free. 

Get started by compiling a list of long-tail keywords to include in your website content, optimize your user experience, then build your online presence beyond your site. Get more marketing tips for small business success to attract even more clients.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.