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Search engine optimization (SEO) helps increase website traffic by improving search engine ranking. If you’ve wondered whether your small business really needs to focus on SEO, you aren’t alone.

Over 50% of small businesses don’t have an SEO strategy, and 22% have no plans to create or implement one in the coming year. Considering that SEO can help businesses establish authority within an industry and build brand awareness, neglecting to explore the world of SEO can severely limit growth.

Further, it’s a great way to organically promote a business for free. Organizations of all sizes can benefit from SEO, whether it is an online shop or a brick-and-mortar business.

Related: 5 Essential SEO Strategies For Entrepreneurs

Benefits of SEO for small businesses

As stated, good SEO practice for small businesses is a must. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Cost-effective: When compared to paid advertising, SEO is a cost-effective strategy for small businesses. You may choose to invest in paid software to help you measure your results, but the benefits will far outweigh the costs.
  • Improves the user experience: By focusing on SEO, you’ll improve the user experience for your website visitors. This will improve engagement and likely result in higher conversion rates.
  • Competitive advantage: By investing in SEO, you’ll gain a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry. For instance, let’s say you run a service-based business and target local customers. Focusing on SEO means your business will show up higher in search results when customers look for local businesses in the same category.
  • Long-term results: SEO is a long-term strategy that will continue to benefit your business for years to come. Paid ads stop generating traffic once you stop paying, but SEO will continue to deliver results over time.

How to develop an SEO strategy

Without a proper strategy, it will be impossible to capitalize on SEO. Here are four strategies small businesses can use to create a strong SEO strategy that will carry a business into the future and pay dividends in the long term.

1. Keyword research:

Google’s algorithm is always changing, but one SEO strategy that has remained fairly consistent over the years is keyword research. When you do keyword research, look for words and phrases that your target audience will be searching for on Google.

As your business begins to rank for those keywords, you’ll start to get more traffic to the company website. When you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to look for high-volume, low-competition keywords.

That means a lot of people are searching for that keyword, but it’s still pretty easy to rank highly for it. The easiest way to find this information is by using a keyword planner. This software can be expensive, but you can find free tools to use.

Related: 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use SEO to Boost Customer Service

2. Optimize your website:

Once you know what keywords you’re trying to rank for, you’re going to strategically place them throughout your website. For example, you can use certain keywords in the alt tags of images, the titles of your posts and page descriptions.

Simply adding keywords to your website won’t be enough on its own — you also need to consider how well the website functions overall. For example, your page speed is a significant ranking factor because a fast-loading website improves the user experience.

Since most people use phones to access the internet, you also need to make sure your website is mobile-optimized. If not, you’ll probably have a high bounce rate since the website won’t format correctly on mobile devices.

3. Get backlinks from high-authority websites:

Google gives more weight to credible sources, so another SEO strategy is to get backlinks from high-authority sites. One way to obtain backlinks is by becoming an expert source for journalists and bloggers.

If you join a free site called Help a Reporter Out (HARO), you’ll see requests from journalists looking for sources to use in articles they’re writing. You can monitor these requests daily and send pitches when you have something valuable to contribute.

This strategy isn’t easy, and it’s important to always send high-value pitches. Still, if you stick with it, you’ll start to receive backlinks and build your domain authority over time.

4. Regularly create new content:

Consistently creating new content is another way to improve SEO ranking since Google rewards sites that create high-quality content. However, you need to publish new content on a regular basis, not just every once in a while.

The easiest way to do this is by coming up with a content calendar and publishing schedule. Brainstorm 12-15 potential blog posts you could write, and figure out how often you can realistically write new articles. You can also start incorporating relevant keywords into your blog posts.

If you’re wondering whether SEO matters for small businesses, the answer is a resounding yes. As a small business owner, SEO can help you increase your online visibility, build credibility and attract the right audience to your website.

It’s a cost-effective marketing solution that delivers long-term results. You won’t see results immediately, but with time and effort, you’ll continue to improve your Google ranking.

Related: A Basic Guide to SEO and Its Impact on Online Businesses

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