Staff Writer: Carolyn Johnson
Small businesses have been struggling in the recently declining economy, what with smaller profit margins, small budgets, and competition with large corporations. It used to be that small businesses could market themselves by posting ads in local newspapers and the yellow pages and be done with it. With the advent of the internet, however, online marketing and ethical search engine optimization is becoming increasingly more necessary, especially for small businesses.
The problem is that some small businesses feel that online marketing is just beyond their ability to comprehend it. They’re just too busy running their own small business to bury their noses in materials about ethical search engine optimization. But the reality is that small businesses need SEOa lot more than large, beefy corporations do. Small businesses need to be found on the internet in order to survive today’s market.
There are several reasons why small businesses are generally distrustful of online marketing and SEO.
First off, for small business owners vaguely familiar with SEO or have even hired an SEO consultant to optimize their site, SEO can be scary because it changes constantly. For instance, the algorithm changes that resulted from the announcement of Google Panda and Penguin had small businesses in a sweat, calling up their SEO consultant and asking how this would affect their traffic. Although the Panda update targeted mainly duplicate content on the web, some small businesses still distrust SEO because the rules change and their marketing stature on the web could change virtually overnight.
Second, it’s hard for small business owners to know exactly what kind of return on investment they’ll get from SEO. SEO consultants can’t promise a specific ranking, according to the guidelines of Google, nor can they price their services with precision because SEO is, in and of itself, an imprecise science.
Depending on how ethically SEO is handled brings us to the third reason: a small business’ optimized website could be brought down if not up to Google’s standards. If your SEO consultant provides thin content or shady link building strategies to your site, only to later be cracked down by Google’s algorithm, then your small business could go down with the ship, too.
Fourth, SEO can be a very technical field, full of technical industry jargon that easily goes over the head of even the smartest business owner. Small businesses also have to be at least a little educated in SEO in order to know what they’re getting from their own SEO consultant.
The fifth and probably most damning reason as to why small businesses feel distrust towards SEO is because they claim it doesn’t work. If an owner’s small business doesn’t rank on top of the Google page, he’ll feel cheated. In reality, however, it could take as long as a year or more for effective keyword to really influence rankings.
Despite a small business’s initial bad feelings about SEO, a good SEO professional should sit down with the client and explain in layman’s terms what he can do for the small business. Over the next few years, SEO will be able to better quantify returns on investment in order to alleviate small business woes.