Short answer: it helps you get higher in the search results lists of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu and others. In other words, you become visible where people search. With correct use of title and description tags on your website you will then get clicks from people searching on the net for your products or services.
The longer, and more detailed answer:
Getting a small business off the ground is usually hard. Very hard. The odds of the newly born business to survive the first few years is very slim, so you as an owner of the said small business need to be very careful how you spend your (non-existent) budget for advertising and marketing. Every cent counts, and you can’t really afford to test your way to find the optimal mix of marketing strategies.
When it comes to what effect you can hope for from a thoughtful SEO strategy, it all depends on a number of factors like niche, competition and price point. So, I will give you some advice that applies to any niche regarding SEO as a marketing tool to get you new clients or retail customers.
My first advice is to have a good look on your landing pages of your website even before you start thinking about technical SEO. You need to ask yourself when you look at every single page: is this page good enough or interesting enough to make the sale without anything else to assist in the sales process? A good landing page should be able to completely replace the sales person. By that I mean that it needs to have everything needed for the client to make a decision about buying or to decide to establish a form of communication with you.
The landing page needs to contain everything you would have said in a sales call so the client does not need any additional information to make a decision.
When the above is in place, it’s time to have a look at the technical aspects of things. This includes structure of the site, keyword density and image and video optimization. This means that the SEO part comes last in the process.
The most important here is to make the text readable and selling. Don’t wait until the end of the article with the main sales points. Put them in the very beginning, and then continue with the more detailed explanations down the line. A well-crafted article get’s the readers attention within three to five seconds, because that is all we have before people hit the back-button and are gone forever.
A well made landing page will definitely help in competing with the big guys, because in the end of the day it’s the actual content on the page that counts. This is all about getting it spread in social networks and to get other people to link to it from their blogs and websites. Your small business has as good of a chance as a big business simply because what people see on the page they are at is all that matters.
To conclude: Work hard and long on your website to make it shine, and the growth of your business will come.
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Bjorn is CEO of Devenia Ltd.