The business playing field is rarely in favor of small businesses. For instance, while small businesses employ around 47.5 percent of the private workforce in the United States (that’s almost 59 million people), not a lot of these businesses go on to be successful. For every 100 small businesses opened, only 80 will survive the first year, 40 will survive until their fifth year, and only 13 will live to see their 10th anniversary.
As a business owner, you definitely want to be one of those 13 that survive operations for as long as possible. One of the best ways to achieve that in the current setup is to go digital, starting with investing in a website. Here’s why an SEO-friendly website is necessary for small businesses to operate successfully.
Stay Visible for Consumers
Consumer behavior has changed over the last few years, and now that the internet has made information more accessible, more people are using it to find businesses that satisfy their needs and preferences. For instance, 87 percent of shoppers begin their shopping process by searching for products online before going to their target online or physical stores. And around 84 percent of shoppers believe online reviews as much as they believe personal recommendations.
To take advantage of this consumer behavior, your business’s website must be visible to consumers looking for your business and products, as well as provide enough information to fulfill their research needs. Otherwise, two things could happen: either you don’t convince them to do business with you, or they don’t find your business in the first place. By implementing SEO on your website, you stay visible for the right keywords that point back to your business.
Stand Out Against Competition
While some small businesses rely purely on word-of-mouth and recommendations from the local community, their competitors are raking in profits from having an online presence. For example, if a potential customer searches online for products or services that you sell, but your business doesn’t appear in search results or online maps, they will never know your business exists and offers the items they need.
What makes this situation worse is if your competitor has a strong online presence and appears on every search result and map of businesses that offer your products or services. Even though there’s a small chance your competitor won’t get the sale, your chance is a flat zero. As hockey Hall of Famer, Wayne Gretzky, says: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
SEO helps to make sure that you have a fighting chance against your competitors who may or may not have an online presence. You wouldn’t enter a fight with a hand tied behind your back, so why are you not maximizing all the opportunities your business has to attract more customers?
Convert Visits into Revenue
The endgame of your business’s online presence is not to have the website with the most views, or to have the most followers on social media, or to have viral content like Sarah’s Discovery and make it trend. No, the whole purpose of investing in digital marketing is so that you can turn those visits and hits into actual revenue. So, while your business might be getting a lot of traction online, if it’s not translating into conversions and more sales, it’s not really doing its purpose.
One half of SEO is getting to the top spot of relevant keyword searches. But once you convince users to go to your website, the other half of SEO is optimizing your site so that your visitors will take the next step—bringing you closer to making a sale. If your business has an online store, it means getting them to check out everything in their cart. If you’re a service provider, it means getting them to send an inquiry. And if you’re a brick-and-mortar business with a physical location, it means convincing them to set an appointment or drop by.
Now more than ever, having an online presence is vital to small businesses. SEO can help you stay in the spotlight, maintain a competitive edge against similar companies in your area, and increase your number of customers by getting your site visitors to do business with you.