For all of us at 411 Locals SEO has very well been the talk of the town in the last decade, yet there are still many businesses that are failing to see the benefits of getting on the hot SEO train. If you are a small business owner who is interested in boosting sales and increasing your business outreach, this blog is for you. In this article, we have outlined the major benefits for small businesses which will hopefully help answer the question of whether it is worth investing in an SEO marketing strategy or not. Before we proceed with the benefits, however:

Let’s Cover the Basics First
What Was SEO Again?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and, yes, you guessed it right — it is an online thing. It is the practice of increasing both the quantity and quality of traffic from search results from search engines to your website in order to strengthen your online marketing strategy, boost sales, and get an edge over your competitors. All major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have primary search results, where pages, videos, local listings and more are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers to be most relevant to users’ queries. According to 411 Locals, optimizing your site is your entry ticket to the SERPs (search engine result pages) game. Winning that game means winning your clients.

Why is SEO an Important Aspect of Your Online Marketing Strategy?

You may have spent countless hours crafting the most beautiful, stylish, and seemingly user-friendly website in the world, partnered with to-the-point, extensive, and quality content, but if you haven’t incorporated SEO in your online marketing strategy, you face the awful risk of never being found by users in SERPs and, thus, never seeing any sales. You don’t want that, do you?

We Live in a Digital Age
Unlike decades ago, most consumers nowadays don’t search for stores or companies on the street. They go online and let search engines find whatever kind of business or service they need for them. Sounds lovely, but if you are not riding the SEO wave, you are missing out on it all. If you don’t optimize your site for both users and search engines, such as Google, the Google bots will never crawl your content and display it to people looking for your product and/or services in the area. Speaking of areas, SEO 101 for small businesses: location optimization is everything.

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO
The main difference between local and organic searches is that local search has a geographical component. For example, check some 411 Locals reviews .That means that if your washer broke down and you type “washer repair in New York, NY” in the search engine, you will only get results for that area because the engine will acknowledge the local intent in your search. In organic search, there is no local intent. As a small, usually brick and mortar kind of business with a physical shop in a specific location, you will want to focus your efforts on local SEO. If you have the capacity to only fix washers in New York, what difference does it make that a person in Dallas can find you online?

Understanding the benefits that SEO holds for your small business is the first step of a very exciting, often nerve-wracking, but nevertheless rewarding experience (if you have a well-run SEO campaign that is). Below are the main ways in which SEO can powerfully impact your business performance and get your company to new heights.

1. High-Quality Traffic Right at Your Doorstep

Your business need to on the Google map
It is true, effective SEO does not bring the world to your door, but it does something better — it brings the users who are likely to purchase your products or need your services to your site. Based on a 411 Locals survey, There are a number of ways in which you can drive traffic to your site, such as blogs, meta tags, PPC, among others, but they should all be crafted with your ideal customer in mind. Your goal is to find what your ideal customer wants/is looking for so that you can deliver it to them through your digital presence. As you incorporate SEO into your marketing strategy, you will drive traffic to your site, and both your ranking and your bottom line will improve.

2. Establish Credibility and Trust with Your Audience
It is a simple psychological fact: the higher a website ranks in a search result, the more people inherently believe this business is credible and worthy of their trust (this excludes paid listings). The reality of it all is, around 98% of people select a business that appears on page one in SERPs. Only 2% bother to go to page two and, God forbid, anywhere further than that. Do you see now how important it is to invest in SEO so you can rank as high as possible? With an efficiently running SEO strategy, you will claim your desired ranking and stay there through satisfied customers, user-generated content (a.k.a. reviews), and return visits.

3. Improves and Strengthens Branding
Just as it helps establish trust and credibility with your clients, SEO can also help your branding. If your site consistently ranks at the top of a specific keyword search, this will mark your business as a key player in that industry. That way, without even knowing your specific products and services, users searching for similar offerings will start recognizing you and your brand which, in turn, helps build brand equity. 411 Locals ensures you, that the brand equity is the perception that consumers have of your brand, and SEO is the perfect tool to use if you want to establish a strong brand recognition among your target clientele.

4. High Local Offline Conversions
Making the most of your local SEO can drive both internet and in-store sales. Why? If you have a store, you have hundreds of people passing by it every day. If you add a properly optimized website to the mix, you have thousands of people potentially landing on your page which means more people “passing by your store,” many more opportunities to convert interested users into happy customers. To speak in numbers, around 72 % of consumers who conduct local searches, end up visiting a store within 5 miles of their locations, and around 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.

The customers are ordering online
5. Improves Engagement
There are several components that greatly impact SEO rankings, and that includes the time a visitor spends on your site. The longer you keep your viewers, the bigger the chance to convert them. How do you make them stay? Quality, engaging content, high site speed, and user-friendly site interface.

6. Delivers an Excellent ROI
If you look at it this way, SEO is one of the most cost-efficient activities in your online marketing arsenal. Why is that? Because you are already engaging a user who is already interested in your product or service, and it is your job to persuade them to buy from you and you only. Yes, you need to do your homework right and research which keywords or images attract your target clientele, but after you have done that, you can just reap the benefits! SEO leads have a close rate of 15%, while outbound leads (print advertising and direct mail) have only less than 2% close rate. You do the math.

7. Works 24/7
No one is making you keep your store open 24/7 in hopes you never turn down interested clients. Instead, let your site greet your viewers and provide all the information you need while you are sleeping comfortably in bed. You may not be a night owl, but your next client might be, and that means they will be looking for you online. One of the major benefits of SEO for your small business probably is the fact that with a well-run campaign, you are available at all times and are literally engaging your target customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You are generating leads and sales without having to stay up at night and keep your store or office open.

8. Reaches Users in All Stages of Decision-Making
Here is a golden rule from 411 Locals: every visitor to your site is a potential customer. owever, some people need more convincing than others, and this is where SEO comes in handy in helping you close the deal. Through your SEO campaign, you have already established your online presence and have a page one placement. Because of that, people will find you, and with the right content — you can turn every lookie-loo into a successfully closed deal. Sometimes a basic “Frequently Asked Questions” page can set the groundwork and establish you as a responsive and knowledgeable business. Service pages/product descriptions reveal all to-the-point information about your offering, blogs cover all additional topical information and give ideas, positive customer reviews show the real-life proof of the quality of your products and services, and that way you basically have the answers to all questions. Finally, displaying sales, promotions, coupons, free quotes/consultations, etc. on your website, serves as the last nudge from the thinking to the buying stage. Each type of content supports your SEO strategy which, in turn, keeps the right people coming back to you for more.

Customer are checking the business before ordering
9. Bypass Competition
Competition was bound to come up at one point or another. In a nutshell, SEO helps you bypass competition. How? Imagine two small businesses operating in the same industry, offering similar products/services at similar prices/rates. One of them has a website optimized for search engines, and the other business has a non-optimized web presence. Other things being equal, which business do you think is more successful of the two? Which company is likely to grow faster and will have more customers from local SEO campaigns? Exactly.

Do not underestimate the power of SEO, and always assume your competitors are already doing it! If they are, you should do it, so you do not fall behind. If they are not, you must be proactive and do it, so that they are the ones falling behind. Use this chance to differentiate yourself, get on the SEO stage, and convert online users into customers long before your rivals discover the benefits of local SEO.

10. Keep up with the millennials
Many small business owners still rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and that is perfectly fine, but in the 21st century, that is becoming more and more insufficient if you want to get ahead. Millennials are more likely to recommend your business through their social platforms, and their peers will look for you not on the street, but online. With mobile searches gaining an increasing % of daily local searches, most of which comes from millennials, incorporating SEO will help you keep up with the new generations. Expanding your campaign to social media is the next step here, and it is a step that will help you stay relevant.

The Bottom line
Small businesses that are only seeing SEO as a way to drive traffic to their website are missing out on all benefits it can potentially deliver (which we already described above). By truly understanding the positive impact that SEO has, you can incorporate it into your online marketing, sales, and branding campaigns in order to establish a cohesive presence and continue growing your business. The goal of any small business owner is to make the most of their bottom line and meet their objectives. SEO not only helps in achieving this goal, but it pushes the boundaries of those goals even further.

One Last Note
Avoid the common misconception that SEO is about building links and building links only. No, it is about building an engaging user experience and providing top-quality content that delivers a much-deserved ROI. Never forget your final user are users and not search engine bots! To conclude, SEO has a lot to give to your small business, but you need to give first — develop an effective SEO strategy, set it in motion, and keep on building and developing it. It is a marathon, not a sprint! A marathon in which 411 Locals can help you!

Oh, and yes, you should care.

Author's Bio: 

Nikolay Peshev is PhD student, working for an International company. 411 Locals. The company helps small business to archive Google first page position.