SEO Services: Can Small Businesses Afford It?
By Itamar Gero
The influence of the internet is undeniable, with over 5 billion people (63.5 percent of the world’s population) going online. It’s a figure that continues to grow as the population grows, making online visibility and prominence crucial to business goals. SEO allows your business to show up on a search engine results page when a query is relevant to what you’re offering.
No matter what industry you’re in and especially when you’re a small fish in a big pond, SEO is indispensable as an investment. Can small businesses afford SEO?
Can Small Businesses Afford SEO Services?
A common predicament of small businesses when it comes to marketing is their tendency to break the bank. This goes for both traditional marketing and internet marketing where you're going to pay for skilled people to run your campaigns in addition to tools, software and ad placements.
Costs can spin out of control and this is why small businesses can't help but ask if they can afford SEO services.
The answer is yes. SEO is one of the market's most effective and cost-efficient marketing strategies.
Most businesses associate marketing and brand awareness with print ads, outdoor ads, broadcast, online advertisements and direct mail efforts. Small businesses don’t normally allocate a huge budget for these marketing efforts.
With SEO, as long as you optimize your pages and it ranks high on Google, traffic stays consistent on your website. In theory, you can stop publishing content for a while and you would still get traffic. This is very different from paid advertising where you need to pay a fee whenever you plan to post an ad.
SEO is the more affordable option. However, the cost will still depend on the size of a business and its goals.
Small businesses can expect to spend between $500 and $5000 monthly on an SEO campaign.
Some services you can buy within this price range are:
An SEO audit is needed to scan and analyze your website for issues and problems that prevent it from performing at its best. This task needs to be done first so specialists can diagnose your website and present you with recommendations for your strategy.
Content creation is producing any type of content for your site. This involves generating topic ideas and creating content that appeals to your clients or target audience.
Content is the driving force behind SEO like it is behind a website. You need high value text or visual content to engage your audience and you have to adhere to the Guidelines set by Google to make sure that your content is Google-friendly as well.
Link building is an effective SEO strategy that works to enhance site authority, increase traffic and drive more leads to your site by building backlinks from relevant sites.
Through this strategy, you’re able to promote your site on another website, reaching an untapped audience and marketing.
Backlink clean-up is the method of removing spammy backlinks or broken links from your website. Having these links attached to your website can be detrimental to your website's health.
Toxic links can have negative impacts on how Google ranks your site and in some cases, your site can even be penalized for it.
It's important to eliminate toxic links to save you from future problems.
Keyword research is the method of finding search terms and queries that match what your business is offering to what your target audience is looking for and your search intent.
A proper keyword research process lets you target the right terms for your website. This will be the first step in creating a strong keyword strategy that will be the key to increasing both site visibility and traffic.
Google Business optimization
Optimizing Google Business is an important SEO strategy for small businesses as it’s directly related to enhancing local search success.
Google Business is a tool made by Google specifically for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence. Optimizing it properly can help you stand out in a crowd of competitors and let potential clients find your business easier.
Site speed optimization
A user's first impression of your website depends on the site's speed. If a website is slow, expect the user to click out of a page and go to another website.
High-performance sites equate to high visits, better user experience, higher conversions, engagement and higher traffic. You'll attract more qualified leads if your site is performing at top speed.
Some SEO work can get expensive, but the cost will depend on the size of the business and the work required to optimize the site.
For example, a multi-billion dollar company may have multiple websites with thousands of pages, compared to a small business operating in a specific area with a website containing less than a hundred pages. This will cause the former to spend more on their strategy.
Prices will depend on the goals, location, competition, strategy and industry the business is in.
Small Business SEO: What You Should Focus on First
To make the most of your financial resources, your choices need to be accurate and efficient to drive positive results without the huge cost.
Keep the following things in mind when choosing SEO services.
When it comes to SEO, it's crucial for search engines to be able to crawl and access your site easily. Your site architecture needs to be optimized according to Google’s Guidelines.
Your site also needs to be fast. Users should be able to easily navigate it using different devices.
People's first content should be a priority. Your website should have content (blog, service or product pages) that prioritizes user satisfaction above all.
It should be relevant, fresh, unique, engaging and high quality.
Backlinks increase the credibility and authority of a website. If Google finds high-quality sites linking to yours, then it will take it as a signal that your site is also trustworthy and credible.
It’s important to know these factors when talking to an SEO consultant. Make sure to not hold back when asking any questions you may have, whether or not you’re planning to work with the company you’re talking to.
SEO Pricing Models You Should Know About
Different SEO companies use different pricing strategies however, top SEO companies closely follow the same pricing models.
Hourly SEO Rate
This model is popular among SEO consultants and freelancers. Some SEO companies also use it for SEO projects that need additional tasks like SEO audits, keyword research and content creation.
Rates may range from $100 to $300 per hour, depending on the work that needs to be done.
Project-based SEO pricing model is applicable when multiple SEO services are needed, but there’s no recurring work.
Prices for this model can range from $300 to $10,000 or more if the project requires more time and resources. For example, if you’re going to redo your website from scratch, that will require additional work compared to the usual SEO campaign.
Monthly Pricing Model
Monthly SEO pricing model applies to SEO agencies that provide services and SEO packages for businesses that require regular maintenance or are highlighted competitive.
SEO packages for small businesses can cost between $300 to $5,000 — depending on the SEO company.
Is SEO Worth it for Smaller Companies?
Definitely. As long as search engines like Google exist, SEO can help increase the growth potential of your business, with 63% of all purchases starting with an online search. Most businesses optimize for Google because it dominates the search market, getting 8.5 billion searches a day.
Working with an SEO agency is like having your own marketing team. You get professionals working on your site looking for every angle that can potentially drive significant ROI. Getting your SEO and marketing done by professionals is an efficient way to scale up, without the need to hire, train and retain an in-house team.
What if your finances leave little room for hiring a team?
SEO Tips for Small Businesses
Although there are highly technical aspects of SEO that require coding skills and advanced software, some SEO fundamentals are easy to learn and execute yourself.
1. Do keyword research
Keyword research is one of the building blocks of SEO. It’s the process of finding terms or queries that people enter into search engines. Keywords are the main words or topics that define your website or business. These words or phrases help search engines understand the topics that your website covers.
The goal is to use this data to help optimize your site for search engines and build a strong content strategy.
Some businesses perform it many times a week, whereas others do it once a month. Research must be done repeatedly because search data will change over time. For example, more people may be looking up “FIFA” this month but in the next few people will have a need to learn more about the World Cup since it’s a seasonal term.
The keywords you choose must be related to your business or relevant to the topic of your content.
For keyword research, use free tools like Google’s own Keyword Planner. It’s made for paid campaigns, but you can access it for free. You just need a Google Ads account to access it.
2. Write longer posts
Fresh content is crucial to ranking on search engines, but it can’t just be new. The articles you do must also be well-researched and in-depth. Because high quality content delivers value for users, and value means providing updated and comprehensive information.
Spend time on research and take your time creating your content. It’s important that it’s educational, authoritative and trustworthy (EAT).
3. Optimize your meta title and description
Page titles and meta descriptions are one of the first things users will see once they enter a search on Google. They may click or skip your site based on these factors alone.
So don’t underestimate the power of a few words; they make a huge difference.
Editing your meta title and description is easy as your web hosting site will offer a simple way for you to change these sections. Simply go to the page that you want to edit and scroll to the bottom.
Here are a few tips for optimization:
- Keep your page title under 55 characters long.
- Keep your meta description below 160 characters long.
- Strategically insert your target keyword
- Clearly describe what your page is about and what value it delivers to the reader
- Make sure that every page on your website has a different and unique page title and meta description.
4. Use internal and external links
Internal links are hyperlinks that connect pages within the same domain. On the other hand, external links are hyperlinks on your site that direct users to another website. In SEO, the more reputable the website is the better. Both internal and external links serve a valuable purpose in sending important signals to Google.
Generally, links help provide your readers with credible references while helping search engines properly index and evaluate your page’s reputation.
Internal links help keep users on your website, letting them easily find information without leaving your site. The longer users stay on your website the better because Google will see this as a signal that you have relevant, valuable content.
External links improve your website’s credibility and trustworthiness when it comes to being a source of information. Make sure to only link to reliable sites that have the same target audience as your business.
SEO is Worth it for Your Business
Print advertising, billboards and direct mail may have been the usual forms of marketing and advertising. Although they still serve a purpose for some businesses, marketing through SEO is more affordable with a potential investment of just $500 (might cost more or less than that depending on the SEO agency). Whereas a full page ad (that runs one time) in a newspaper with a daily circulation of over 20,000 costs over $7,000.
There’s no need to break the bank on expensive advertisements. As a small business, you can gain more leads and sales by generating organic traffic through SEO.
If you choose the right SEO agency that can provide you with a long-term strategy, the results would promote your business growth for years to come.