Running a business is a gamble, and part of that gamble is the obstacles that entrepreneurs will face along the way. Regardless of size or industry, every venture goes through its fair share of challenges – but some may have a harder time surviving than others.
Many businesses struggle because of low profitability. If your business is grappling to stay afloat due to lack of customers, know that there’s still a way to turn things around.
When you consider how the Internet has shifted the way people do business, you’ll realize that, in many cases, entrepreneurs only have to take a closer look at their websites and revamp with useful SEO techniques to bounce back.
This article will help you gain a better understanding of what SEO is, how it works, and the reasons why it’s crucial for businesses – struggling or not – to take on SEO marketing campaigns.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or what is commonly referred to as SEO, is an assortment of techniques and strategies implemented to boost a website’s performance and improve its rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google.
SEO works around the premise that the higher a website or its pages rank in search engines for relevant keywords, the more visible will be. Thus, there is a higher likelihood for users/potential customers to click on the link and visit the site, increasing traffic and conversions in the process.
Anybody looking to improve their website’s SERP ranking needs a well-rounded strategy, which means you need to focus on the on-page, off-page, and technical aspects of your SEO. Breaking down your strategy into these three distinct by interconnected categories will make organizing and executing your optimization plans so much easier.
Let’s discuss the three types of SEO further below.
On-page optimization, also known as on-site SEO, is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to improve the website’s rankings in search engines and draw more organic traffic.
Publishing high-quality content, creating meta-descriptions, keyword research and placement, optimizing headlines, HTML tags, and images are all part of an on-page SEO strategy. All these factors work together to help search engines understand the topic of the content and recognize it as a valuable source of information. This allows the site to rank higher in related keyword searches.
If on-page SEO refers to the strategies you implement within your site to improve its rankings, off-page SEO involves optimizations that happen outside a website, but still influence the site’s performance and search engine visibility.
Off-site SEO strategies include guest blogging, claiming or creating business listings, and social media posts, to name a few. It is basically all about pointing a large volume of high-quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative sites to your pages to gain trust signals and strengthen your website’s reputation and value as a reliable source.
Both on-page and off-page optimization involve the front-end aspects of your site. Technical SEO, on the other hand, has more to do with the website’s back-end structure and foundation.
An excellent technical SEO strategy will help ensure that your site is not only well-designed and aesthetically-appealing but works like a charm, too. Users will hardly give you the time of day if your website takes forever to load.
Non-content elements like page speed, site architecture, security, indexing, and mobile-friendliness enhance the site’s readability, making it easier for search engines to crawl the website and understand what it is all about. Moreover, optimizing the technical end of your website also results in quality user experience, which will benefit your overall traffic and engagement rates.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
If you search online, you can find dozens of varying opinions on how to best approach site optimization. But as with most industries as vast as SEO, these opposing takes are to be expected. There’s no such thing as “the best SEO strategy.” There are, however, two popular schools of thought used to distinguish search engine optimization techniques: white hat and black hat SEO.
Search engines have a set of rules and conditions that all websites must follow, and SEO strategies that abide by these guidelines are considered white hat. Using original content, boosting page speed, and creating an overall favorable user-experience are some of the best SEO practices that will most definitely help elevate your site’s search page rankings while playing by the rules set by Google et al.
On the flip side, you have black hat SEO, which uses techniques that are deemed unethical because they are not in keeping with the standards set by Google and other search engines. Black hat SEO involves aggressive use of practices such as keyword stuffing, link-buying, spam comments, and duplicate content.
Interestingly, though, black hat strategies used to be the norm in search engine optimization up until a few years or so ago, before Google made significant alterations to its algorithm and changed the way we do SEO.
These days, websites caught using black hat methods are penalized and, as a result, suffer a debilitating decline in traffic and ranking. Still, some people take the risk and use these techniques because they deliver faster results. Conversely, white hat SEO strategies require time, effort, and patience to implement, which means it will take a while to see the outcome you want. They have, however, a more lasting impact.
How Search Engines Work
For most users, search engines are like a modern-day miracle. You only have to input a query on the search bar and, in a matter of seconds, the screen flickers with hundreds of results – ranked and sorted according to their relevance. Remarkable as that may seem, it’s no magic – but codes and algorithms.
Search engines work by using bots — automated software agents that scour the Internet for data. Bots crawl websites for content, keywords, Meta descriptions, title tags, and backlinks, and report these signals/information back to the search engine for indexing. Once a page is stored in the index, it will appear as a result of related queries.
When a user enters a query, the search engine identifies relevant pages from the index. It then uses an algorithm to hierarchically rank the results according to their relevance to the search.
Search engines rank sites according to numerous factors. It’s believed that Google uses over 200 criteria when ranking websites. And while we may not know what many of those are, complying with the most basic ranking factors – original content, site speed, mobile-friendliness, and quality backlinks – will increase your chances of ranking higher in SERPs.
Website traffic from mobile phones accounts for more than 50% of online traffic worldwide. With the majority of users accessing search engines through their smartphones and tablets instead of laptops and desktop computers, optimizing websites for mobile devices is a must for all online entrepreneurs – and Google, the world’s top search engine, thinks so, too.
Nowadays, Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website as the baseline for indexing and determining the rankings. It is referred to as “mobile-first indexing” because there are no separate indexing methods for mobile devices and desktops. Instead, the site with a better mobile experience is likely to receive a boost in visibility and potentially rank higher in searches.
Because of mobile-first indexing, it has become imperative for websites to adapt to the mobile user. One of the best ways to do this is by choosing a responsive web design, as this helps ensure that your website adjusts to fit the end user’s device. You may also want to consider ramping up your mobile page speed and load time, among other things.
Reasons Why Struggling Businesses Should Embrace SEO
1. SEO improves your brand’s search engine visibility.
It’s every webmaster’s ultimate goal to score a sweet spot on the first page of Google. You see, users these days rarely visit the second or third search engine results page. They just click whatever comes up at the top of the page.
With SEO, it’s a fair game. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, you have a fighting chance. Ending up on page 1 will definitely result in an upsurge in leads and sales! Landing on top of the SERPs, however, would be highly unlikely if you don’t do SEO.
If you want the whole world – or at least your target audience – to know your brand, you have to make your website more visible online. With a carefully-crafted SEO strategy, you can rank better on search engines, get more exposure, and potentially gain traffic.
2. Quality SEO can have a significant influence on the buying cycle.
Consumers these days are wiser with their choices. More than 75% of buyers make it a point to look up products or services online before making a decision. This has become a practice for many millennials, and it won’t be too long before virtually everyone feels the need to scout the Internet and read reviews before purchasing or patronizing anything.
People nowadays put tremendous trust in Google, which means appearing on the first page will elevate the image and credibility of your brand. An effective SEO marketing campaign will make it easier for customers to find their way to your business.
3. SEO Marketing campaigns are affordable and cost-effective.
One thing that most small businesses have in common is limited resources. Unlike bigger companies with thousands of dollars in promotional funds, smaller ventures have to be wiser with their marketing decisions. This is one of the very reasons why startups and struggling businesses badly need SEO.
If you’ve tried traditional means of advertising before – TV, radio, or print, then you already know how expensive they can get. SEO, on the other hand, is relatively cheaper than most traditional and digital channels, even if you hire SEO professionals to handle the campaign. Done right, SEO also has the potential to yield the most ROI.
4. Your competitors and implementing SEO marketing strategies, too!
Almost every business with a website runs an SEO campaign to improve their search engine rankings, and you can bet that your competitors are doing the same.
If your business isn’t doing too well and you’ve hardly done anything to boost your website’s performance, then perhaps it’s time to jump into the bandwagon. It may take a bit of time, but SEO should help get your business back on track.
But even if your business is doing fine and you’re ranking high on SERPs, don’t stop optimizing. Remember that the competition is at bay, and they’re also doing the best they can to get ahead.
5. SEO delivers, and it’s here for the long-haul.
There are plenty of ways to drive visitors to a website, but nothing beats organic traffic. Why? Because the bulk of SEO-generated traffic comes from users who were actively seeking the goods and solutions that you offer online.
Positioning your brand on Google and other search engines will lead to a higher rate of conversion. Plus, you won’t have to spend a lot of time convincing them to buy your goods because they were already looking for the products in the first place.
But here’s the thing: SEO is a never-ending process. You need to keep track of the latest developments in SEO and constantly update your strategy. If you’re tight on budget, you can learn about SEO and take the DIY route. For the best possible outcome, though, let a reputable digital marketing agency handle your SEO for you.
Investing in SEO is one of the best entrepreneurial decisions you’ll ever make. SEO works, and it has saved countless struggling businesses from going under.
Quality SEO will deliver quality results, time and time again. And if we base on how search engines are currently developing, it’s not too hard to see that the future is looking bright for search engine optimization. SEO has been and will continue to be a cost-efficient and effective marketing strategy for businesses big and small in the years – maybe even decades – to come.
Need help with your SEO? Give us a call and ask about our affordable SEO services, we would be honored to work with you!