At Muffin Marketing, we’re often asked about our SEO for small businesses packages, and whether investing in SEO is worth it.

The truth is that every business is different, and some will get by just fine online without spending time ranking on search engines, but in the majority of cases, SEO can transform a brand’s online presence and dramatically impact digital sales.

Below, we’ve put together some of the reasons why SEO is such an important investment for small business owners.

If you’re sceptical whether SEO is right for you, this article will make you think twice and help you realise that benefits are far greater than you might have first thought.


Brings in free organic traffic

The single biggest benefit of SEO – and the reason marketers spend so much time and money on boosting their search engine optimisation – is to attract more visitors to their website.

Having a good SEO strategy and ranking at the top of Google for competitive keywords can transform your business and drive thousands of leads and customers your way: for free.

Say, for example, you owned a dog grooming company in Liverpool. If you ranked at number one on Google for ‘dog grooming Liverpool’, then everyone in Liverpool who searched for dog grooming will see your result before the rest. And because 44.64% of people click on the top result of Google before looking anywhere else, getting to that top spot can be very lucrative.

However, there’s no point in ranking at number one on Google and other search engines if your website isn’t up to scratch.

An effective marketing campaign should be all-encompassing, and that starts by creating a site that’s designed to attract leads and the attention of your customers.

If you’re ranking at the top spot and your site isn’t offering the information those searchers want, then your bounce rate will increase and you won’t convert visitors to customers.

Think about the bigger picture.


Helps you rank ahead of competitors

It’s more than likely that your competitors will be working on an SEO campaign for their brand, and if you’re not doing the same, then you’ll have lots to catch up on.

One of the most frustrating things about SEO is that, to rank high, you need to be patient; it’s impossible to reach the top spot overnight because you need to build links and conduct technical SEO for that to happen.

The sooner you get started on your SEO campaign, the better.

There are only so many spaces on the first page of Google, and only so many keywords to optimise your website for, so if you fall behind, it may be too late to catch up – and your competitors could always be ahead of you.


Mobile browsing makes search more important

In the United Kingdom and the United States, more people access the internet from their phones than from a desktop computer – and the figure is rising every year as mobile adoption continues.

As well as creating a mobile-friendly website that serves users the right information and the right experience on the go, it’s important that you optimise your website for mobile searches.

Because consumers want to access information on the go, mobile search has never been more important.

86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps before they visit, while 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase.

Being present on search engines – and appearing ahead of your competitors on mobile devices – is essential.


Boosts your credibility

Another major benefit of SEO is credibility.

Sure, you want to drive more traffic to your website and out trump your competitors, but having lots of content appearing at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) also makes your business appear as an authority within your niche – and that can offer greater benefits, like backlinks, social shares and promotion.

Let’s say your fitness supplements company writes an article on how to gain muscle mass and reduce body fat, and that article ranks at number one for ‘gaining muscle’. Now, every time a fitness fanatic searches for ‘gaining muscle’, they’ll see your brand – and they’ll naturally see that you’re an expert and a trusted, well-respected source of information. If they’re a consumer, they might check out your article and share it with their friends on Facebook. If they’re a blogger or a business owner, they might reference your content on their website, giving you a link and even further boosting your credibility as a fitness expert. And so the cycle continues.

Of course, to rank at number one for terms such as ‘gaining muscle’, you’ll need to create truly awesome content that’s better than everything else out there on the internet, and you’ll need to build links to that content through guest blogging, a good internal linking structure, and outreach.


SEO isn’t going anywhere fast

Every few months, a new marketing ‘influencer’ writes a controversial article about SEO being dead, and the rest of us laugh and clap our hands.

Marketers are always going to have differing opinions on spending money on optimising your website for search, but for the majority of us, SEO is still one of the most effective lead generation and traffic driving techniques.

And that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Google accounts for more than 90% of global organic search traffic, so failing to optimise your website for the search engine is business suicide.

What is going to change, however, is the way we optimise our websites for search; businesses are getting savvier with their budgets and their strategies, choosing to focus on niche marketing to attract a smaller, more targeted audience that will be interested in their products and services.

Local SEO, for example, has exploded in popularity thanks to mobile usage and changes to Google’s algorithms, and many small businesses have realised that location-specific keywords are much easier and more effective to rank for than generic, nationwide keyword phrases.

Businesses are also continuing to realise the power of content marketing, putting emphasis on their content campaigns – which, combined with SEO work – will offer greater long-term results.


Doing it on your own isn’t easy

For many business owners, SEO is a shot-in-the-dark investment.

Unless you’re clued up on what SEO is and how it can impact your business, it can be difficult to know where your money is going – and what return on investment you can expect as a result.

That’s why it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the techniques as early as possible, so you choose a company that knows what they’re talking about and isn’t going to rip you off.

Alternatively, you can go at it alone and do your own SEO work – but that isn’t always easy.

SEO takes a lot of hard work and practice to get right, and if you’re spending all of your free time optimising your website, writing new articles, outreaching to bloggers, and so on, you’ll have less time to work on running your business, doing the thing you’re supposed to be the best at.

See also: Why you should outsource your SEO to a marketing agency

Outsourcing your SEO to another company is more cost-effective, as you won’t have to worry about training a new employee, paying for their education and the expensive SEO tools required to effectively run a campaign.

What’s more, the SEO company will be accountable to you; if they don’t deliver the results you want over a certain period, you can cancel your contract. That power will motivate the company to work hard.


Wrapping up

There’s no denying that SEO is expensive – especially when you consider the fact it can take months to get any results.

But you should treat SEO as an investment for your business; being able to rank for competitive terms will offer you long-term benefits, and ensure there’s a steady flow of new customers coming through to your website for years to come.

Good luck.