Best Practice Marketing

SEO: The Unsung Hero of Small Business Growth

Mouse and wire that spells out SEO

How Search Engine Optimization Can Help Drive Business

Modern-day business has evolved into a staggering battlefield of behemoth box brands and niche newcomers that are constantly competing for attention. Entrepreneurs can’t avoid the facts that customers are already inundated with ads, nearly every market is saturated, and new businesses are starting up every day. However, there is one secret weapon for driving business growth that more than 70% of small businesses overlook: SEO strategy.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of optimizing content and code on your website (on-page SEO), and on other sites (off-page SEO), to increase the chance of being delivered in top search results for web queries related to your business. A well-planned SEO strategy will include both a consistent content marketing strategy optimized for keywords and content pillars or sales funnels, along with user experience enhancements and technical performance optimization.

“When businesses talk about increasing sales, they rarely account for search engine optimization as a viable option for growth,” said Harry Ellis III, chief information officer and president of Next Horizon, which provides technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity.

“However, mastering SEO can add a huge boost to your visibility and website traffic. More importantly, it can be incredibly cost effective.”

Next Horizon uses its 40 years of experience to provide technical business advice. “Typically, when we have clients who understand the importance of SEO and invest time into the strategy and execution, they are successful,” Ellis said.

These tips can help businesses determine how to use SEO for maximum results:

Unite text and tech

A web search engine is a powerhouse system that delivers information generated by search queries. These searches are performed by eager audiences around the world. According to Internet Live Stats, users perform more than 3.5 billion Google searches per day — and that’s just on one search platform. “It’s all too easy to get buried in search results,” Ellis said. “It’s important that businesses do everything they can to ensure their brand is delivered in relevant results.”

Understand the benefits

SEO can help win top spots in search results by leveraging the power of strategy. “The first page of search results is not unattainable, even for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Ellis said. “It just takes a bit of time and effort.” SEO also helps build brand awareness, aids in the creation of faster and better websites, finds and corrects faults in user search queries, wins targeted audiences, and increases conversion rates for sales and other activities — and produces long-lasting results.

Know that content is king

Content delivers a branded experience to audiences while guiding them through the customer journey. “Quality content allows businesses to share stories, convey personality, build credibility and inspire trust with audiences,” Ellis said. “Top-notch content is valuable.” However, this is where businesses fall short of a true SEO strategy. Proper SEO includes consistently creating original, engaging articles for both users and search engines. For businesses looking to gain traction, this means producing long-form content (between 500 and 3,000 words) two to four times per week, optimized with relevant keywords and search terms.

Get technical … and get assistance

Technical SEO is the other side of search engine optimization — and it might require the help of a specialist or agency. To win top positions in search results, businesses need to implement SEO best practices for both content and code while adhering to the previously mentioned ranking factors set by search engines. Website speed is a critical factor in SEO. According to Google, 53% of mobile website visitors will abandon a webpage if it doesn’t load within three seconds. “A slow-loading website contributes to a huge number of lost transactions,” Ellis said. “Optimizing user experience and page performance will contribute drastically to earning top placement on search results pages.”

Grow with SEO

A website is a digital extension of a business. That means SEO should be interwoven into the fabric of every digital marketing strategy to promote organic growth online. “To get discovered in search results, companies must provide a user-friendly, well-structured, fastloading website that delivers value-packed content to audiences,” Ellis said. “This can only be achieved when businesses adopt healthy SEO practices as a driving force for their marketing program.”

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About the author

Davia Moss

Davia Moss is vice president of operations and client services at Next Horizon, an IT and digital marketing agency that provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. www.nexthorizon.net

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