Is SEO the most important part of your business goals on line?

Well, that all depends on who you ask and how much money you have to spend. There are many who feel that SEO is the most important aspect of attracting new business on line, but it’s just not that simple for small businesses. With a small business budget, you have to weigh the benefits of SEO versus other forms of promotion. For small businesses with a limited budget, I recommend considering other methods of driving traffic to your business initially, and your on line presence will suffice more as a repository of information about your company, as well as a showcase of your products and services, where traffic is directed to your website through word of mouth and local advertisements.

SEO is time consuming and can be very expensive, but it is definitely worth it if you have the budget for it. There is always a tipping point with things like that; meaning that you have to invest up to a certain threshold, in order to gain any real benefit from that method of driving traffic to your website, and that threshold can take a while to figure out. The thing is; unless you have thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to spend on doing SEO right, you will likely not gain much from it, as your competitors at larger companies have huge budgets to spend in this area, and competing with that directly can be a waste of time and money in the beginning. I’m not saying don’t spend any time on it, just do some homework and do the minimal SEO efforts initially to get yourself indexed at least, but don’t spend too much money and time in this area, until you have enough money to find out where that tipping point would be in regards to your competing with those other businesses like yours.

Because SEO can be expensive, you have to consider other methods of attracting new business initially, such as the traditional advertising and social networking methods, including good old fashion “face to face meetings” and “cold calling”. The most important thing… is to find ways to share the message of your new business, and a website is only one way to do that. You should create quality printed materials that you can hand out to potential customers, including professionally designed fliers, banners, business cards, T-Shirts, pens, free calendars etc. Your printed materials including your brochures and business card, should all contain the address to your website, where people can learn more about your business after the initial meeting is over.

The other things about competition on line with search engines, is in the popularity of the search terms used for a particular business. For example, typing in “freelance graphic artist” into Google produces thousands if not millions of results. Because of this, you have to understand what search terms people would most likely use in a search for your business, and check to see how competitive that term really is, and whether or not trying to get higher on the index makes any sense right now, given the competitiveness of those search terms, and the cost associated with attaining that goal.

There are plenty of people out there ready to take your money with SEO services, with no guarantee of placing higher on the index (or high enough to be competitive), but you may find some that do guarantee certain level of rankings, with a money back guarantee, that can work within your budget. Even if you do place higher on indexes, there is still competition at the top of those rankings, and getting higher on those rankings through SEO can be very costly and time consuming, which may make it too difficult for many small businesses; especially in the beginning. Again this is where advertising services like Yahoo Local, Google Ad-words, Yelp, Yellow Pages.com, Manta.com, Masscities.com etc., come into play. Again, you will want to look at the costs and weigh your options, so that you get the best bang for your buck. I’m convinced that the best form of advertising is word of mouth, and direct marketing concepts such as post cards, local ads, fliers, business cards etc, since all of these are more personal to your customers, and much more affordable for a small business.

The next thing to consider however is PPC pay per click advertising. With pay per click there are two options Flat-rate PPC, and Bid-based PPC. With Flat-rate, the advertiser and publisher agree upon a fixed amount that will be paid for each click. In many cases the publisher has a rate card that lists the cost per click (CPC) within different areas of their website or network. With Bid-based PPC, The advertiser signs a contract that allows them to compete against other advertisers in a private auction hosted by a publisher or, more commonly, an advertising network. For more information regarding this topic, see this wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_per_click. The bottom line is, if you have the money to pay to be at the top of the search engine listings through PPC, then this might be a viable choice if you need fast and quick exposure with only minimal SEO needed.

Then once people finally reach your website, you’ll need a website that not only informs people, but gives them a reason to want to look further, and keep coming back. It is very important with an on line presence, that it look professionally designed, and have regularly updated content, since that can help to retain existing customers and attract new ones. People automatically associate the condition and look of your website, with the quality of your business. It is much better to not have a website, then it is to have a poor quality one, or one that does not flow well, or just looks amateurish or unrelated to the business it represents. All content needs to be relevant and organized appropriately, so that users can find what they need on your website, without having to search much for it. It is also important to provide social networking solutions when appropriate, so that people can easily share the information on your site with their friends. If done right, social integration can really boost traffic to your website.

Again there are many points of view on the subject of SEO, but this is my opinion regarding SEO when it comes to small business, and I encourage you to do your own research to find out the best possible solutions for your small business, using this article as something to consider. There are so many variables, but focusing on the little things you can do now locally is a great start! Good luck with your new business, and we are here to help you with all of your graphics and web design needs, so that your advertisements will be successful!

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