Despite the common belief, having SEO “done” will not solve all your traffic issues or make your site magically appear on page one of Google. Not every website is a good candidate for having SEO work done.
Sure, most websites can benefit from additional links and some other basic SEO benefits. But that does not mean it will help them sail up to the first page in a matter of weeks. Some websites will benefit from targeted work, others might benefit from a simple blog article once a month, or an updated Google Business Profile. Check out this article on Google Business Profiles to learn more.
So how do you know if your small business is a good candidate for having SEO work done? This article covers some factors for you to consider so you can make the best choice to push your business forward instead of wasting money.
Where does your ideal customer find you?
Believe it or not, your ideal customer makes a huge difference in if SEO will be effective for your website. Look at your existing marketing efforts and review how your past customers have found your business.
Do you tend to get more inquiries from social media posts? If your traffic is coming from other sources rather than search engines, then SEO work will have minimal impact on your existing income stream. On the flip side, if your customers are finding you on Google, and even sometimes in map searches, then SEO could help your business reach a large audience.
SEO is great for brand awareness, but rarely moves the needle large amounts when it comes to profit for most small businesses. Most small businesses benefit from a website in the sense of directing people to it and increasing brand trust. We just don’t have the budget or clout to compete with the big guys.
How old is your business?
Newer businesses or businesses that have previously never had a website can benefit more from SEO than those that have been around a while. Remember, SEO is about brand awareness. So, if you are a new business, performing SEO work and running some paid advertising to increase awareness can greatly help your business.
If you are already established in your existing niche, it might not be as much of a benefit to your audience. Sure, you can use SEO to add a new area to your business (again, awareness) but if you are already established, you might not see much movement or growth. This is even more true when it comes to highly generic keywords that are likely already full of other big-name brands, with larger websites.
Are you ready to commit to making content?
SEO benefits best when you are adding new content. Search engines are more likely to rank new content that is well-optimized over the old content. Fresh will always do better.
If you are paying for SEO work, be prepared to either create lots of new content yourself or pay your SEO company to create the content for you. I always recommend before our clients start an SEO plan with someone, that they look at what they are creating already and if they are up to the task of adding more.
SEO is not an overnight game. It takes weeks and even months to move the needle a little bit. The more content you have out there the more chances you can change the direction and start ranking for more keywords. Plus having more content makes you appear to be a bigger authority in your niche.
You are an authority to your customer and can write content that matters to them. Even if you think you are not good enough to do so. Don’t let imposter syndrome turn you away. And 9 times out of 10 you will be able to write better content than any SEO company could anyhow.
Do you have a budget planned out?
We all know the saying “You get what you pay for”. This is true of every service, and SEO is no different. If you choose the cheapest provider, you are not doing yourself or your business justice.
Shopping based on price alone is a recipe for failure. You need to do your research and ensure the company you hire has a proven track record of results. And not just generic results, but results in your field or related fields.
SEO can vary greatly from one niche to another. Ensure whoever you hire knows what works for the products or services you offer. Someone offering cheap work probably does not have your best interests in mind and might not be there in six months either.
Another example of this would be people calling themselves experts with little experience.
I am positive I could provide paid SEO services to your business and might even know more than you do about SEO. I might even provide a little success. But I would provide you with poor service as it’s not my focus. Find someone who specializes in SEO work full-time.
Plan out a budget for how much you want to spend. And not just a single month. SEO is a multi-month venture. You won’t make any progress by paying for a single month and considering it done. So, choose a budget that covers your investment for at least six months before deciding on future work.
Do you have the time to wait?
If your business is on the edge and needs customers today, then SEO is not for you. As I have said a couple of times, you need to have the time to commit to letting SEO work for you.
SEO will never be a quick overnight fix. It not only takes time to get search engines to see your changes, but it also takes time to create new content. Plan to see some results six months to a year from the time you start.
You might be lucky and see results faster. Or it might take a few years of weekly blog articles to start seeing results on that time investment. This is a hard lesson to learn, and I have even been guilty of this. I thought I should see results quicker, so I lost steam and gave up on writing.
I would recommend you investigate ads and other forms of marketing if your business needs a quick infusion of cash.
Have a goal in mind
You need to have a goal of what you want your SEO efforts to achieve and communicate that goal to your SEO company.
SEO works more for some businesses than others. If you are needing more customers for your eCommerce business, you would probably be better off spending money on ads or increasing your social media awareness.
People rarely try to find a new product by simply Google searching for it. Instead, they Google to learn more about the product or find a whole variety of solutions for a problem they might have. Ads are more targeted and will get your seen by the right people faster.
SEO in this case would be good to help people learn about the benefits of your product or to teach them about your offering. But a service business might be able to effectively use SEO to get new customers looking for a specific service in a specific place.
Don’t focus on the new customers alone
If you decide to pay for SEO services, come up with a plan to balance new customers and your existing customers. Your existing customers are who got you this far. If you start neglecting them, then no matter how many new customers you get, you will still have a problem.
Implement a regular newsletter. Reach out to existing customers and see how they are doing. If you choose to offer specials, don’t leave the people who already purchased from you out in the cold.
Recently, we purchased a new design tool for some of the graphics we design. It seemed like a great deal at the time. But a little more than a month later, they released a new version. Instead of offering a discount to those who had just purchased, or offered an upgrade, we were forced to purchase the new version at full price. And so, I have not bothered to upgrade and don’t know if I will. They hurt the customer relationship by focusing on sales for new customers and ignoring those who just purchased.
Your existing customers are more likely to purchase from you again. You already won their trust. Your return on investment will be way higher through customers you already have rather than new ones.
Ask yourself if instead of SEO, a targeted campaign to win back some of your existing customers might produce better results for your business in the short term.
There is a time and place for everything. And SEO is no exception to this rule either. Before you dedicate what is often a considerable amount of money to SEO services, make sure you ask yourself these questions and consider the positives and negatives.
For many small businesses, SEO is not cost-effective when compared to showing up consistently and focusing on your existing audience. There is an amazing amount that you can do with your resources.
For other businesses, SEO is the right answer. If that’s the case, I encourage you to hire wisely, put in the effort needed, and enjoy the benefits.