Why small businesses should be an SEO company’s next target

James Wilson, marketing director at XLN explains why small businesses represent a massive opportunity for the SEO sector

The business benefits of a company’s website being optimised properly for search engines are pretty clear. Statistics show that the first three results in any online search will receive the majority of clicks, and the top result will attract nearly a third of this traffic. Simply put, more traffic means more potential sales. There’s a big market out there for online business, which the ONS reported to be worth £586.9 million a week in the UK for June 2013 alone, and it’s being mopped up by those ranking highest in search engines. 

You would think statistics such as these would make SEO a key concern for most companies but it’s become apparent that this is not the case, especially with the small ones.

A recent XLN survey revealed that of the small businesses that actually have a website (and a third don’t) only 53% said that theirs was optimised for search engines. What’s more, the survey suggests that many may not have even heard of SEO at all, with 24 percent saying they didn’t know if their sites were optimised.

These statistic show just how much of an opportunity small businesses represent as potential new clients. There are nearly five million small businesses in the UK to potentially do business with, and with such an opening in the market taking advantage of this should be a key consideration for the SEO industry.

One major advantage with approaching businesses that have little or no existing SEO in place is that it will not take long for your company to show positive results and prove its worth. However, it must be remembered that small business owners often have very limited time each day to discuss strategy and also have a great deal of personal and financial investment in their company. This means they may quickly lose interest if bogged down in the technical details of SEO, and often be wary of investment in such a long term strategy. They need to feel reassured that they can trust you and so it is essential that you focus on the business benefits of SEO and provide them with cold hard evidence about what they stand to gain from it.

Statistics such as those mentioned earlier, or the fact that almost three quarters of adults in the UK shop online for goods or services (for those aged 25-34, this figure rises to a whopping 92%!), can help you get them onboard with the concept.

Some companies may have already dabbled in PPC campaigns. No matter whether this was a positive or negative experience, show them instead that an average of 39% of a website’s customers arrived there from a search, and 70% of the links users click on the results page are organic. This should be enough to demonstrate that relying on PPC campaigns alone to direct traffic to a company’s site isn’t effective.

With big corporations investing heavily in SEO to remain the leader of the pack in their sector’s search results, small business owners might think they can’t compete. However, as Google has itself pointed out, a fifth of searches are localised, and so focussing efforts on localising the company’s search engine performance to attract this traffic can have a significant effect on a site’s fortunes.

SEO agencies that communicate this information effectively to small businesses and help them understand why investment in SEO can really pay off are the ones that will succeed.

James Wilson is Marketing Director of XLN Telecom, a specialist provider of business broadband services tailored for SMEs, and is a keen follower of SEO best practice.

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