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How effective SEO can grow your business
By ATB Financial 30 September 2020 5 min read
Think about how you search for things on the Internet.
You set your web browser to your favourite search engine, key in a few words or search terms, click enter and instantly you have a curated list of results, links to other websites, to pore through at your leisure. You might have even relied on a Google search to discover this article.
As a business owner, having your website or online presence appear at the very top of a web search, of which millions of users will potentially see, could make all the difference to a sluggish or thriving bottom line.
Along with lead generation and inbound marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is key to a successful digital marketing strategy. Good search results not only indicate the quality and popularity of your brand, they drive online traffic and engagement.
SEO is a practice all marketers should keep in mind when pursuing a digital strategy.
What is SEO?
The premise of SEO is simple: get your content noticed by Google or another popular search engine. In doing so, you will generate more opportunities for users- customers- to come across your brand.
Not only is your content interesting and provoking a favourable response, it’s posing a unique solution to a problem. By anticipating what people are looking for, what problems they’re trying to solve, you’re giving your product a chance to be discovered.
"More people coming across your content means you've done a good job and understand your audience and optimized their ability to find you"
ATB’s senior content marketing manager
How to SEO?
In an effort to remain up to date and provide relevant information, Google and other search engines deploy special automated programs, “crawlers”, which travel through the web constantly, collecting data to ensure searches are accurate and reflect the most up to date and relevant information. Billions of new web pages get discovered by the crawlers this way.
Once a new website is discovered and its information authenticated or vetted, the search engine “indexes” the results, making it possible to be discovered through a new search.
Let’s say you’ve opened a dessert shop in Red Deer, specializing in Belgian chocolates. How do you use SEO to ensure attention to your unique specialty?
Know your keywords
The first thing to consider is the relevant words which describe your business, the key terms used by anyone in search of products like yours. Knowing these keywords and phrases helps you anticipate what your potential customers want and enables you to craft content that stands out.
For example you can design a website or e-commerce platform which contains all the key terms users frequently rely on for online searches for Belgian chocolates. You can promote popular Belgian products sold by your shop that Red Deer residents have searched for.
Boost your profile
With a brick and mortar operation, you can register your small business with Google, Bing, Yelp, Trip Advisor etc. so that essential store information- hours of operation, contact information, address- comes up whenever someone, no matter where they are, can make use of the search engine to find you.
Smith also adds that it’s important to remember that Google is not the only place people search for what you’re offering. Many social media platforms can provide you exposure beyond your wildest dreams if you’re able to tap into the right audience, like “shop local” groups and forums.
You can optimize customer service so that the shop has favourable user ratings, providing credibility for your brand. You can pump out promotions and other draws through social media to drive further interest.
The key is to make yourself available in an area, a search engine, where tens of millions of users are known to be at any given time.
SEO on a shoestring budget
Operating costs are always going to be tight for a new business. When pursuing a marketing strategy, entrepreneurs will no doubt be motivated by costs. Does it make sense to splash for a glossy flyer campaign that only a handful of people might engage with?
For that reason, SEO is an attractive option since it costs little or nothing for the most part (other than your time and some web writing skill), is less complicated to produce than traditional advertising, and can promise meaningful ROI. If you can rank well in various searches, clicks are free, unlike paid digital ad campaigns.
Unlike a direct campaign, say a radio or tv spot requiring dozens of hours of production and coordination to complete, SEO could be as simple as crafting a few product descriptions in your e-shop to reflect key terms that get picked up by Google.
Web tools and software
There are many software and web companies offering easy to use online tools for SEO. You can start with Google’s own SEO starter guide which provides a list of best practices on making your web presence easily discoverable to the search engine giant.
In building out your online platform, keep in mind inexpensive website builders that appear free or minimal cost may In reality, require an additional charge to unlock “premium” options like as SEO management, says Smith. It may make more sense perhaps to hire a web developer to construct your platform who understands SEO.
Along with crafting SEO it’s essential to analyze how effective such efforts have been. Tracking tools like Buzzsumo offer the ability to instantly track digital SEO effectiveness and opportunities, providing useful data and measurables.
Integrate SEO with your digital platform
Effective SEO requires time and dedication. Many large companies have entire departments dealing only with SEO, it's that important to growth.
As a digital marketer and entrepreneur, you will spend a considerable amount of time practicing SEO. If you post new content regularly, whether it be blog posts or product pages, it must be crafted with consideration of SEO. The goal for any digital strategy is to present yourself as an attractive option for a potential customer.
The success of your e-platform is directly linked to the effectiveness of your SEO. In building out your “digital ecosystem”, as Smith terms it, you need to integrate SEO everywhere your brand has a digital persona.
Again, the key is to ensure your brand can be easily discovered through a quick online search, and that requires a constant dedication to stay at the top of the rankings giving yourself the best chance to be noticed.
“People aren’t necessarily searching for your company, especially when you’re starting out, they're searching for solutions to their problems,” says Smith.
Appearing at the top of the search results requires consistent dedication. But the return for any business owner could prove invaluable.
If you’re looking for a deep dive on everything you need to know around how to grow your business, our entrepreneur strategists are available to work with you and explore where you are with your business, where you want to be, and how to get there!