What is SEO?

If you’re looking at breaking into the digital marketing space, then you’ve probably heard about search engine optimization, or better known as SEO. SEO is one of the things I get asked about the most, mostly because it’s a buzzword that has lasted well over a decade — and for good reason! Though the algorithms behind it have changed a ton over the years, the basic idea of it is still key to any business establishing itself in the digital space.

Does your small business need SEO? Absolutely, especially if they can zero in on specific targets such as locations (e.g. San Francisco) or niche services (e.g. cat sitting). When you thrive at SEO, you show up in that magical space known as Google’s Left Column — and the better your SEO, the higher up your ranking.

High rankings — that’s the tricky part. It’s not always easy getting there, though. It takes time and energy to achieve that, so with that in mind, let’s break down the pros and cons of SEO.

The Pros of SEO

keywords-for-seoDo you want to get found on the Internet? Good, then SEO is for you. Do you want to distinguish yourself from your competition? Good, then SEO is also for you. Do you want to zero in on very specific online targets and maximize their potential? Good, then SEO is definitely for you.

And if you answered “Yes!” to all three questions, then SEO is absolutely, positively for you.

These three questions cover the general pros of SEO:

  1. SEO is the foundation for getting found on the Internet. I’ve encountered businesses that wonder why they have no traffic, but when I look at their site, the answer is clear to me. It’s because they’ve addressed none of the SEO basics, and because of that, their site is essentially invisible to search engines.
  2. When you get deeper into SEO, you can begin to control the narrative of your brand. What distinguishes your brand from the competition? You could optimize for those keywords and start associating your brand with those traits for your target audience.
  3. With a deep SEO strategy, you can really drill down to specific targets. This is particularly helpful with location-based services. For example, at Forward Push, we’d like to target “San Francisco SEO services.” So we’ve done some optimization work for that keyword phase, but wait a sec — we also can target “Bay Area SEO services,” “San Francisco SEO firm,” and “Marin SEO services”. The more specific the target, the fewer the keyword competitors, making it easier to pick and choose targets.

The Cons Of SEO

organic-search-seo-strategyIn principle, there are no cons regarding SEO. However, the reality is that small businesses are stretched for time and resources. Depending on the current state of your website — or if you don’t even have one — it will take effort to build a foundation for SEO.

Once the site’s foundation is in place, you’ll also need to map out your SEO strategy by doing keyword analysis and competitive research. Then you’ll need to build content with an eye on SEO, and based on the scope of your strategy, the amount of content needed can quickly add up. You’ll also need a publishing and distribution strategy — posting on your site’s blog, syndicating through press releases, going grassroots with social media, etc. The principles of inbound marketing are particularly effective here.

All of this takes effort, which is the biggest drawback to SEO. It’s one of the soundest strategies in the world of digital marketing, but there’s a bit of a ramp-up period before you start seeing results.

Is SEO Right For Your Business?

The short and simple answer is yes — every business can benefit from SEO. However, things are never quite that black-and-white in the business world. Do you have the resources to dive into a thought-out SEO strategy? If not, then put this on the back burner (though you really should at least get a baseline level ready so Google can find your site). But if so, you have options: spend the time yourself learning about SEO and start implementing it, or outsource to a company like Forward Push to handle it, or both.

SEO is a complicated and multi-layered strategy, and you can’t really get all of its details from a single article. So if you’re intrigued by the idea but unsure about some of the specifics, contact me — I’m happy to answer your SEO questions, whether you’re  a local San Francisco Bay Area small business or simply Googling around for more info.

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