Stop Competing and Start Creating: SEO for Small Businesses

Rahul Alim
by Rahul Alim 28 Nov, 2017

How often have you heard that an excellent SEO strategy is the key to increased ROI, higher rates of conversion, business success and more?

Now, how often have you wished that you had the knowledge, time and financial resources to implement an exceptional SEO strategy into your own business?

A top ranking on Google searches related to the industry you're in can catapult your business to the next level. SEO, however, comes with its own set of challenges, particularly for a small business.

First, SEO is a larger investment, and small businesses are working around smaller, often mismanaged budgets. Multimillion-dollar corporations will designate large portions of their budget for SEO because they value how important it is to be at the top of Google searches related to their industry, and they have the marketing budget to make it happen.

Maybe, as a small business owner, you don't even believe that paying for a professional team to optimize your site for search engines will bring in new business. And besides, there's no point in trying to compete with major multimillion-dollar websites that can afford a team of marketing professionals anyway, right?


SEO will cost you, but it will be worth it. You can turn to a professional team that will work with your budget and take advantage of intelligent and efficient ways to attract the specific customers you want to your online business. And that is through targeted, localized and audience-specific SEO.

The market is changing, and consumers have moved online. If you've been asking yourself where to find your next customer, then you've been asking the wrong question. What you need to ask is how will my next customer find me?

The answer: online. The means to make it happen: SEO.

An effective SEO campaign will be laser-focused to your ideal customers and can help them to find you when they need you.

When you run a Google search, how often do you go on to the second or even the third page? Most likely, you can't think of a single time that you haven't just used the results on the first page. You may even believe that anything not on the first page isn't even a legitimate option. It's just as fast to run a new search and get an entirely new set of results.

Now, imagine all your potential customers thinking the same thing about your business when it's showing on the second, third or maybe even a following page on their search result. Not a fun thought, is it?

A targeted and effective SEO campaign is the solution for any level of business, and the sooner you take advantage of it, the sooner you'll begin to see a return on your investment.

The Internet is a never-ending ocean with a seemingly infinite amount of fish. If you want to start reeling these fish into your business, all you need to do is just get out on the water. If you don't invest in SEO now, you will continue to fall behind in the forward motion of digital marketing.

On Google alone (not counting other search engines), over 40,000 searches happen every single second. That's over 3.5 billion every day, which works out to over 1.2 trillion searches every single year. If your site is properly optimized, all of those searches every single second, day, month and year will be ways that your future customers can find you. 

Over half of all marketers are investing more money into their digital marketing budgets so they can get out on the water and start reeling in new fish. Digital marketing is less expensive (61 percent less per lead, to be exact), can reach a much larger audience, and consistently creates higher conversion rates.

People browse the Internet and look at social media on their smartphones and tablets more than they look at print ads or listen to the radio. This shift from traditional to digital marketing is only gaining momentum, so put yourself at the forefront of this movement. The sooner your business goes all in on digital marketing, the better. Your conversion rates will increase, your customer retention will increase and your profits will grow right along with it.

The statistics don't lie; if you're looking to close a sale, then digital marketing is the way to go. A lead from organic search results is 750 percent more likely to convert than from traditional media.

Over 80 percent of businesses have watched their ROI increase once they decided to take full advantage of the marketing goldmine that is digital marketing. If you want to watch your bottom line improve, then don't take for granted the opportunity that SEO can provide you.

The What and Why of SEO For Small Businesses

SEO (search engine optimization) is a digital marketing strategy that uses search engine results to increase visibility and website traffic.

The best way to fully grasp the benefits of SEO is to imagine it from the customer's side. When you're searching for a product of service, you will type in some phrase to a search engine. Results pop up, and naturally, the first ones you see are the ones at the top. A majority of the time most people will choose a result within the top five or so.

The businesses popping up in the top five results? They're using smart and selective SEO strategies to increase their chances of you finding them. Smart, right?

What about those massive websites that seem to be pushing smaller business sites out of the top spots? Those are usually large corporations with equally large marketing wallets.

However, there are ways to implement SEO on a small business budget that will cleverly get you around the behemoths in your industry.

Keep reading, we'll tell you how...

How to Get More Customers with Smart and Selective SEO Strategies

On-site and off-site SEO: There are two important categories of SEO, and both require adequate attention: on-site and off-site SEO. On-site SEO tends to be more straightforward; it's all about optimizing the content and overall website performance of your company's site. This starts by determining keywords, and then crafting content that uses these keywords for product descriptions, tags, meta descriptions, pages, titles, category descriptions, etc. Off-site SEO is slightly different; this works by inserting inbound links from external high-trafficked, highly respected websites. The best way to understand off-site SEO is to know the results it gives you regarding your search rankings. If a highly respected site, such as a popular news outlet or a business website, links to your website, then this alerts the search engine that your website has been deemed worth linking to, and this can raise your search rankings.

The first strategy to beat the behemoths? Hire an experienced SEO firm that will analyze and optimize every single piece of content on your website. Choosing the right SEO company for your business is crucial to the success of your search engine optimization. The wrong firm for your business may not yield the right results for true ROI.

Any company that uses black hat techniques is the wrong company for any business. Black hat techniques are ways to try and game the system or manipulate Google's algorithm somehow in shady, deceptive, unscrupulous ways. This may, in fact, drive your business into the ground because it can get your website penalized and taken out of all search results everywhere.

Don't know what black hat techniques are? This detailed list from Forbes will tell you what to watch out for, so you can run in the other direction from an SEO firm that suggests them.

The Local 3-Pack: If you're a small business and you're not utilizing the Local 3-Pack with Google, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity. The Local 3-Pack gives small businesses a distinct advantage because big companies don't have the same local focus that small businesses do. 

What is the Google Local 3-pack? Imagine searching for a restaurant to eat at tonight. The results that show up at the top of your search results are the ones that are most geographically relevant.


And that's how it's supposed to work. As part of its search algorithm, Google will determine whether an individual's search has a local intent, and the Local 3-Pack will show the relevant local results.

There's an easy way to improve your odds of turning up in the Local 3-Pack, and that's to create and verify a Google MyBusiness profile. Verification can take some time – it relies on sending a physical postcard in the physical mail – so if you have a permanent address and a local phone number for your business, you should get started on your profile immediately.

SEO for small businesses is already an uphill battle because of the competition from other small businesses selling the same products or services, and with the multimillion dollar corporations who have enormous marketing budgets for their websites.

So, when advantage that is made for local businesses crosses your path, you should take full advantage of it.

Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are ones that are highly specific and usually on the longer side than typical keywords. They tend to get a lower amount of search traffic, but since they are so specific, they also tend to have higher conversion rates.

The higher conversion rates come from the idea that when a customer is using such a specific keyword or search phrase, they are looking for something highly specific that they want to buy or services they are looking to render. Long-tail keyword searches are typically indicative of a customer ready to buy, or nearly ready.

Using these in your optimization is another strategy that helps combat the competitiveness of the market, particularly for small businesses or ones with unique products or services. It can be challenging to rank well for shorter, more obvious words in highly competitive markets, particularly when there is a larger number of big corporations within your industry. Long-tail keywords are less likely to be used by larger companies, and so they can be major drivers of quicker sales.

Smart Web Design: Smart Web design that is both search-friendly and user-friendly is a lesser known but effective way to help your search engine rankings. Most small businesses can afford a website redesign; it's a one-time investment that can yield enormous returns. It has more indirect SEO results, but can yield direct increases in sales and leads.

Part of your website design is your content, which should of course be optimized for relevant keywords and easily readable. Search engines will also check your website performance and how user-friendly it is to determine its ranking in search results. Faster-loading pages, smaller bounce rates and higher average page views per session can all have a positive effect on your search engine rankings.

Outsource the Job

For most small businesses, hiring an in-house digital marketing team isn't something that can be squeezed into a marketing budget.

The smartest thing to do is connect with an SEO company who understands the intricacies of their industry. There are plenty of SEO agencies with certain levels of expertise in certain niches; you can likely find one for yours.

SEO isn't rocket science, but it still isn't easy. To do it well, and to create results for your business, it takes time, effort, and consistency.

Whether you are going to take these smart and selective SEO strategies upon yourself to implement them into your business, or you are considering outsourcing your online marketing and SEO work, you should anticipate the need for maintenance.

Did you ever see Michael Jordan stop practicing once he joined a pro team? Do you think Michael Phelps stopped going to swim practice once he had made the Olympic team?

When you feel like your rankings are good enough, resist the urge to cool your heels and remember that your website's SEO needs consistent maintaining. And with SEO for small businesses, dedication to upkeep for an SEO campaign is even more essential.

When it comes to marketing and expanding your business, don't underestimate the benefit of looking outside your immediate sphere for new ideas and influences. Pick an SEO strategy example that we listed, and consider it further. Determine for yourself whether you think it fits your marketing plan or the vision you have for your business. Better yet, discuss these options with us and we can custom tailor an SEO campaign that works for your budget.

At the end of the day, SEO is just marketing and branding. There are companies that can take on the heavy lifting for marketing your products or services so you can keep on building your business, then you have come to the right place.

The marketing potential that SEO holds is going to make all the time and effort (and money) worth it. And the only way you can go wrong is by not investing in it in the first place.

About the Author
Rahul Alim is the CEO of Custom Creatives, an award winning digital marketing agency in Los Angeles, California.  He helps businesses improve their Local SEO efforts, Adwords results, Facebook Advertising funnel creation and Website Design strategy to grow small businesses to the next level of success and sales.  You can contact Rahul on LinkedIn or online at