The most important thing for a business is to have a game-changing product or service – that goes without saying. However, apart from that, entrepreneurs can apply certain marketing techniques that make a unique contribution to the business. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is just as essential for startups as it is for long-standing organizations.
Most consumers who are looking for specific information, products or services begin by searching the Internet using Google, Bing and other web search services. Research has shown that more than 80% of mobile shoppers have their purchase decisions influenced by search-retrieved information. Also, more than 70% of mobile searches are likely to culminate in a sale within a short time after.
Therefore, it is supremely important for startups to be visible and reachable through search engines; same as for all other businesses. This need however magnifies for startups and young businesses, that need to take advantage of every channel available to establish their footprint on and off the internet.
Below are five ways in which SEO can uniquely contribute to the above for entrepreneurs:
- Social media marketing
Today, social media marketing is as much a part of SEO as any other. Social signals make a marked contribution to eventual rankings in organic search, and in turn high rankings can drive more traffic towards both your business’s website and its social media profile on various platforms. This accelerates business growth.
Social media strategy is no longer a matter of choice; it’s a must. The beauty is that social media and SEO feed off one another for the eventual good of the business: use social media to fortify your robust SEO campaign, and SEO to improve your social media visibility.
- Trust building
Trust is one of the most important factors that enable success in online business, particularly for young businesses that don’t yet have recognizable brand-name associations. Searchers will trust websites that have a good ranking for queries that they run, because they inherently trust Google (or other search engines).
According to research, the order in which search results are presented strongly sways users. In addition, more users tend to click on organic search results than sponsored/PPC links. Organic search results attract users more than 90% of the time; hence, if your business isn’t showing up for organic search, pay-per-click/paid search is not a suitable substitute.
Competitors ranking higher than your website gain more innate trust from consumers and will hence attract more customers. Therefore, striving for higher rankings in organic search engines results pages (SERPs) can help a growing business effectively to set itself up at the top in their target audience’s trust meter.
- Market share over the long term
The goal of all entrepreneurs should be to commandeer a significant chunk of the market share, or win brand equity. Search engine optimization has been known as a long-term marketing technique, even though some results can be achieved in the short-term. However, the best campaign is that which runs with long-term business goals in mind.
Running a website is so much like the world of real estate: SEO is a strategic long-term technique culminating in increased brand equity over time. SEM (search engine marketing/PPC/paid search) is just like renting a home, since you can never truly cement your position on paid search – unless you cough up more money.
Money spent on SEO can equate to paying off a mortgage – you’re creating long-term worth for the business. With SEM, you rent a space, and it is removed as soon as you cannot pay, or someone paying more shows up. SEM is a short-term technique, you pay to be there right now, but your payment now does not assure you of being around down the line.
- Reputation management
Reputation management is very important for young businesses: proactively work towards preventing occurrence and spread of negative information/bad reviews about your brand instead of waiting to correct things once there is a problem. Entrepreneurs are very vulnerable to bad publicity, since they are heavily dependent on business cash flow, and negative information interferes with cash flow.
Reputation management in SEO terms is about ruling first-page results in search engines for branded queries i.e. queries that mention your brand names. You website must rank first for your brand search, followed by your social media profiles i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest etc.
In these places, you control content, and can therefore control the message transmitted to consumers about your brand.
- Increasing organic traffic
Growing your traffic from organic search indicates huge potential for future growth. Backed by a good product, service or idea, your business name is likely to spread, and this in turn results in even better rankings as you grow your back link profile, social signals and brand mentions.
An entrepreneur must show the business’s growth potential in order to secure funding from potential investors, and the level of organic search traffic can greatly contribute in this regard. Since organic search traffic comes free, all conversions have very high ROI, growing exponentially after deduction of the fixed SEO cost.
Michael Bentos is an experienced digital marketer and part of the team at ParadoxSEO.com – the powerful platform that makes SEO simple. He has been offering search engine optimization services for more than 10 years now. You can connect him via linked-in.