When it comes to small businesses and the internet, a surprising number have little or no presence at all and there are at least 5 good reasons for this. We’ll look into these reasons in detail and explain why your competitor’s ignorance is a good thing for your business.
This article will focus primarily on achieving rankings in the natural search engine results and we’ll leave paid forms of online advertising for another time.
1. Clueless About SEO
One of the main reasons so many small businesses struggle in the online world is because they do not understand what search engine optimization is and what it involves. The truth is that SEO is as much an art as it is a science and most business owners just aren’t sure how to get started.
Even those companies that have built a website often struggle to get any visitors because they do not know how to optimize the on-page factors or acquire backlinks in order to rank highly in the search engines.
This is good for your business because it means there are lots of niches and geographic locations in which search engine competition is low and top 3 rankings are easily achievable given some work.
The basic premise of SEO is actually quite simple so any small business owner can get to grips with it if they are willing to dedicate some time to reading and learning. While this will not make you a first class internet marketer in a day, it will put you several steps ahead of your competitors and with a fully optimised website, you will be in good stead to reap the rewards of high rankings.
2. Clueless About The Value Of Top Rankings
There is still a large proportion of small business owners who consider internet marketing to be of secondary importance when it comes to attracting new customers. Because of their lack of experience, many still believe that the internet only works for certain industries or that simply having their company listed on Yell is good enough.
What these business owners do not realise is that the growth in online customer acquisition over the past decade has been phenomenal and businesses that have utilised this medium are now flourishing. These companies have to spend far less on attracting new customers via the alternative, often more expensive, means of marketing.
This is good for your business because you can build up your customer base without your competitors knowing. Because they do not realise the true value of top rankings, they will not suspect anything as your business goes from strength to strength.
With less reliance on traditional marketing methods, you can fly under their radar and prevent them from copying what you are doing.
3. Clueless About Website Design
Even among those businesses who have managed to get a website live, a significant proportion have not given any thought to how it performs at attracting new customers.
The thing is, when it comes to design, it is not all about how beautiful or stylish a website looks but rather how it converts visitors into new enquiries. This lack of focus on conversion rates is where so many companies fall down.
Some company websites are so driven by design that they forego a good user experience and this can be a hard mental roadblock to overcome. What good business people need to realise is that your website is there for one reason only – to attract new business – looking nice is not always necessary.
This is good for your business because even if people visit your competitors’ websites, if they can’t find what they are looking for, you will be the business that ends up being contacted. This is assuming you have put conversions at the top of your website wish list.
Two of the most obvious things you should have on your website are a telephone number and a contact form that is displayed prominently on either the homepage or an easy to locate contact page.
If you are a physical store or shop, it is vital that you have opening times and an address (and map) so that customers can find you. So many local businesses forget this or have the information tucked away on a page that nobody ever sees.
4. Clueless About Cost
To many businesses, their internet presence is a secondary consideration because they imagine it is going to cost them an arm and a leg to achieve results. We would argue that a good online strategy is something most businesses cannot afford to ignore.
Because of the relative skill required to create and market a website, the price many companies charge is seen as prohibitive by business owners. What they fail to realise is that with a little bit of learning on their part, they could achieve a fantastic looking website at minimal cost.
And when it comes to attaining high search engine rankings, a sustained effort over a period of time with things such as guest blogging, niche directory submissions and social media participation needn’t cost the earth.
This is good for your business because you can work to a more sensible budget (or virtually no budget if you want) and still be confident that results are achievable. While your competitors are being scared off by sky high quotes, you can slowly master the art of SEO yourself at a fraction of the cost.
You don’t have to spend a large amount up front either; just set aside a small amount each month and work with a budget you can afford.
5. Clueless About Timeframes
The final reason why small businesses aren’t using internet marketing (specifically SEO) is that they expect results straight away and this simply isn’t realistic in most circumstances.
While sponsored search engine ads, banners and newsletter promotions may bring instant traffic, SEO is a gradual process and it is rare for a business’s new website to start receiving significant visitor numbers straight away (apart from in the least competitive niches) and this causes many small business owners to spend their time, effort and money on other, more instantaneous, methods of marketing.
This is good for your business because a first mover advantage can last longer in the natural search results than it can in the offline world. For example, if you run a successful newspaper advert one week, there is nothing to stop your competitor doing the same thing the following week. When you achieve results through search engine optimization, however, your competitors cannot copy you so quickly.
Knowing that results won’t always happen overnight also allows you to set expectations at a realistic level. There is also a far lower chance of you giving up when results don’t come in an instant whereas your competitors might turn off the path to internet success if their efforts don’t yield tangible results straight away.
Get Ahead Of The Competition
As you can see, there are numerous reasons why marketing your business via the internet is a solid approach to take. With the whole online space still proving to be a mystery to many, the opportunities are there for the taking.
In this day and age, the importance of having a good web presence is clear to see and with more and more people using the internet as a means of finding companies with which to spend their money, there are no excuses not to get in on the act.
About the author:
Steve Waller is a consultant to those who wish to establish themselves online. He works with many businesses from pet stores to local accountants and has seen, first-hand, the positive impact that top search engine rankings can have on a business.
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