Major SEO Challenges Small Businesses Face, and Innovative Solutions
In a recent survey of 501 small businesses in the US, The Manifest found that only 30% had an SEO strategy in place. This means several opportunities to boost business visibility and revenue are wasting, considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
However, it is easy to see why this is so. Small businesses usually have fewer resources to successfully invest in a highly competitive industry. Therefore, they are bound to face challenges because of having a small budget, lacking a marketing team, and even simply being a small business.
This article highlights some problems that small businesses face and outlines effective solutions that would transform a small business SEO strategy.
Small Businesses are… Small
The first reason small businesses face trouble is simply that they are small. Hence, Google, with every other success factor, is ‘against’ them.
Google’s algorithm ranks sites based on three primary principles, summarized as E-A-T. The acronym stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Small businesses would inevitably have a hard time ranking because they lack all three, especially because they have been around for less time. And it is harder to rank high in sectors where Google prioritizes E-A-T higher, such as health, legal information, news, finance, etc.
What to do?
- Post content regularly. Post as often as possible. Consistency is important for establishing trust in your niche.
- Post only quality content. As much as quantity is important, quality is more. Ensure that your posts are truly helpful and relevant to your audience. If you want to be regarded as an industry expert, then write like one, not like someone who only blogs as a hobby.
- Find out the needs of your audience through extensive keyword research. Then craft content that meets those needs.
- Boost your domain authority by getting backlinks and brand mentions from authority websites. You can wait for this to occur naturally, or you may ‘take matters into your own hands’ by guest posting for relevant websites and including a link to yours.
- Linking to authority sites from yours too is an excellent way to signal authority.
Running SEO on a Small Budget
This is perhaps the barrier to SEO success. To gain big from SEO, you need to have spent and been spending a lot of money. Money is necessary for hiring the best SEO experts, investing in the best tools, and so on. Besides, SEO is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing methods. So the chances are that businesses that can’t afford SEO cannot afford other digital marketing strategies as well.
Also, as mentioned above, SEO is far from friendly to those at the bottom rung of the ladder, as are small businesses just starting out. Therefore, it would take a lot of effort and a lot of money as well to even notice signs of progress. However, there are still innovative ways to get significant results from SEO even when you keep costs low. You only have to prioritize. You might have grand goals for your business but keep in mind that your visibility would not explode after a few months of SEO
What to do?
- Start small. Start local. Begin by establishing authority in your community and region before trying to be in the national or global spotlight. Local SEO costs almost nothing if you adhere to the following tips:
- Create your Google My Business page and fill it with all the necessary information about your business.
- Register your business information on relevant online local business directories to boost your visibility. Yelp, Foursquare, Google+, etc.
- Create locally optimized content to attract customers within your region.
- There are many free SEO tools that work very fine. Google itself has a good range of tools and features for SEO. This includes Search Console, Analytics, Trends, PageSpeed Insights, Keyword Planner, etc. Beyond Google, there are many tools that give excellent SEO insights and are free.
- Set realistic expectations and KPIs against which you would periodically measure your performance. These goals would keep you focused on the most important needs and prevent you from overstretching your budget.
No Dedicated Marketing Team
One downside of having a slim budget is that there is little to no money to hire members of a dedicated marketing team. Often, small businesses have employees take multiple roles to make up for their lack of resources. SEO cannot survive that kind of model. The SEO space is highly competitive. And, as many erroneously believe, it is not just about blogging. Many think they would rank higher if they updated their blog regularly.
However, SEO is beyond that. It involves keyword research, link building, keyword optimization, technical SEO, analytics, and many more. Google has over 200 ranking factors, and more so, any of these factors may change, without prior warning. The point is that SEO is not fringe marketing or a simple business add-on. To take advantage of SEO, you have to go all out. Small business SEO stagnates without a person (or persons) in charge of researching and optimizing content, monitoring algorithm changes, writing guest posts, etc.
What to do?
- If you can’t hire an SEO expert or a marketing team, outsource SEO to an efficient agency. Most SEO agencies would charge you on a contract basis, and their services can be easily adjusted to fit your budget.
- As an alternative to hiring an agency, you could find freelancers who would work to improve your SEO on a contract basis. And whenever you hire for such roles as writer, web developer, social media manager, etc., hire those with expert knowledge of SEO.
- Whether you are working with an SEO agency or a freelancer, ensure that they have a proven track record of success, and also that they understand your SEO needs, which would vary depending on the company. An interview is the best way to discuss your SEO needs and goals and determine if they are the right fit.
SEO requires a lot of patience for success. It might take some time and effort to start noticing results visibly. That is where the importance of not giving up comes in. You might think you are not making any gains, but your efforts add up in the long run. SEO is a long-term strategy that continues delivering results.
However, if you continually notice low results, then you might need to switch things up. The SEO space reinvents itself often, and certain strategies may quickly become obsolete. Adapting to the latest best practices would help you stay ahead.