SEO can help any company of any size. But there’s no doubt that small businesses need SEO the most AND face the toughest SEO challenges, not the least of which is smaller budgets.
Small businesses are often focused on larger growth margins and are looking to double or triple in size. In the same time frame, a large business may seek to grow 5%. The actual revenue growth may be larger for a large business, but doubling in size has unique challenges.
Many small businesses are new and looking to establish themselves. SEO provides the opportunity to secure an online presence early and permanently. Other small businesses may be older but lack a strong online presence. They’ve gone too long with just a simple website in order to check the “we’re online” box, but the website is far from effective and they otherwise are non-existent online.
The market for a small business may be saturated and standing out in the crowd is difficult. Word of mouth has worked for the company so far, but they need an additional boost to get customers through the door or onto the website.
Or the small business may need to compete with big players that have deeper pockets, broader marketing campaigns, and longer histories. Google rewards website size and age and competing with large incumbents is a massive challenge.
Whatever the need or combination of needs, SEO is an effective method of leveling the playing field and getting a leg up on the competition.
But how do you sell the value of SEO to small businesses with small budgets and few resources? Especially when SEO is still a large unknown to many small-business owners?
Getting small-business owners to allocate money to SEO
When getting small-business owners to allocate more money to SEO–or any money at all–you have a few strategies you can follow.
Show volume and competitors
First, show search volume for target keywords the client should rank for. Don’t go all SEO analyst here and find the optimal keywords with the perfect balance of competition versus spend. The initial idea is to show that people are searching for your client–a lot of people.
Then show how the competitors of your client rank for these keywords. If your client needs SEO like you say, then the competitors are likely in the top spots and your potential client might show up somewhere for one of the keywords. The real goal of this exercise is to show your client that people are searching–and the traffic is going to the competition.
Measure ROI versus other online marketing strategies
One advantage of SEO and digital marketing in general is the ability to show direct results and therefore measure ROI. The oft-quoted adage “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” doesn’t apply to the digital world in which we can track every click and customer.
Of course just because you can measure the ROI of an SEO campaign and not of a billboard doesn’t make the SEO campaign a better option. But the ability to measure ROI is a significant strength with helping a small-business owner see the value of increasing the company SEO spend.
The focus on ROI also helps when debating between various online marketing strategies. Small budgets may not allow for a robust PPC/SEO combination. In this case, you must show the benefits of SEO over a PPC campaign. Both offer the ability to measure ROI and obviously the small-business owner should go with the best ROI.
Note: I am not advocating that SEO should be the only marketing activity.
SEO needs to be a piece, albeit an important piece, of the overall marketing strategy. But small-business owners tend to misallocate marketing budgets disproportionately to favor less-effective mediums. And that’s where you’ll find additional money for SEO.
You and I know that the best ROI is likely to be the SEO campaign. But how do you prove it?
If the client has run PPC campaigns in the past, gather the data and then run a comparison of a successful case study of another similar client. The SEO campaign will likely cost more, but will also generate more revenue and will have longer-lasting results.
Helping small-business owners see the value and benefit of SEO can be difficult. They face the toughest battle with SEO, but they also stand to gain the most. Take and adapt these strategies to your needs and potential clients to increase your chances of success.