What Small Businesses Don’t “Get” about SEO

Small Business SEOIt’s funny how many small businesses have heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) without really knowing what it entails or how it can help their business.

There is no magic bullet called SEO that will make your business an overnight success. Like any success, success in SEO is never overnight. It takes time, effort, patience, right strategy, ability to handle uncertainty, monitoring progress and making sure you follow the right path. Unfortunately, most small businesses want quick, instant results when it comes to SEO. They want to double their traffic in a month. Or triple.

No wonder so many SEO companies are nothing more than snake-oil salesmen. They sell what the customer wants to buy, no matter the risks. They can get paid to show higher search traffic, but one misstep and the business can literally be wiped off the internet (aka doesn’t show up in Google. Don’t mess with big G when you’re a small business).

If you are a small business that doesn’t know about SEO, here is a quick, dirty guide to follow:

  • Never, ever, go black hat. Sure, you’ll quadruple your traffic in a month, and then you’ll fall to zero next month. The risks are too high. Besides, trust me, Google has some smart engineers working for them. They tend to know more than your average SEO company or your “brilliant black hat SEO method that Google can never detect”. Cut the BS. Don’t risk your entire business on your “genius ideas”. Think ethical SEO.
  • If you’re hiring an SEO company, know what they do. Not just you, even big businesses have no clue what their SEO firms do, but they have leverage that you don’t. Look at JC Penney – the most famous SEO gone bad scandal for a big chain. Know what you’re paying for.
  • Give up on SEO right now if you want overnight success.
  • SEO, when done right, requires a lot of hard work. It means aligning the interests of the search engine, search users and your business. This isn’t easy. It means providing the highest quality content that appeals to people who don’t want to buy from you and hopefully convert them over time. Are you ready for that investment?
  • SEO can be highly rewarding. What’s better than getting highly targeted traffic to your business, every one of them a potential buyer, all for free? If you want to reach such a coveted position, however, you will need to think long-term. There is no overnight SEO success anymore.
  • Beware the snake oil salesman. Are you being “guaranteed” success in terms of first position in Google? Run, don’t look back.
  • SEO is just another tool in your toolkit. Even if you don’t land a top Google spot, the strategies behind SEO should promote your business and get interested buyers to you nevertheless. Think powerful and useful content that people like and would want to share. How could you go wrong, even if Google ceases to exist tomorrow?
  • Learn. Learn from the better sources on the internet. Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. Know what Google wants. Learn as much as you can. At least you’ll be in a position to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. Don’t build your business around fishy techniques and shady alliances.
  • Know your business. Know how SEO fits it. It isn’t the beginning and end of any business. Purely by itself, SEO is meaningless. You need a way to convert the people who come to your site. Have a plan in place. What should the reader do after reading your awesome post?

What am I missing? What else don’t businesses get about SEO? What tips do you have for them?

Photo Credit: San Diego Shooter

27 Comments

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  2. Matz says:

    What a post! Thanks for the tips you’ve indicated. It’s a very detailed one!

  3. Lot of small businesses think that only the website is enough to run their business online. They are not aware of the story behind SEO.

    The ones that know what is SEO, just want to top at first page of Google in few days/weeks.
    However, you said it all in the article.

    Be honest to small business owners, explain the SEO process, the pros and cons, and hopefully they’ll hire you.

    BTW, useful articles and tips at your blog. Keep it up!

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