The truth of the matter is that no small business owner wants to spend time on website maintenance. These people are in business with expertise and interests that usually have nothing to do with website creation and management.
But it’s also true that these business owners are spending money on websites right now, and few if any of them are seeing a return on their investment. And they’re rightly frustrated.
Cut to the chase: any small business spending money on its site (and, worse yet, spending money on advertising) without looking after SEO, is going about things backwards.
The strongest selling point for SEO is this: would you rather keep spending advertising dollars every single month to appear in someone’s directory, or instead would you like to appear consistently high in Google and other search results without paying a penny for the privilege?
Once you know what you’re doing, SEO is free and powerful. It doesn’t take any more work to build a well-optimized site than it does to build a weak one. And once you’re ranking well in Google, for free, you’re in control of your online destiny.
Some people will have read the preceding paragraph and honed in on one phrase: “once you know what you’re doing…” Luckily, that’s not as daunting as it sounds. Like so much else in life, the first 80% of SEO is easily taught and easily learned. (Plug alert: check out the SEO courses we offer.) It’s the extra 20% that some people pay consultants six figures to finesse.
Is 80% knowledge enough for your website? Consider this: your competition is probably doing nothing for SEO right now. With just a bit of attention, you could probably climb up — perhaps all the way up — in Google rankings. If you’re a multinational corporation competing for ranking in searches like “best mobile phone,” you definitely want to invest in some good brains who can do the 100% job. But for the little guy, 80% is infinitely more than the guy down the block, and that could be plenty good enough.
Back to advertising: is it worth it for small businesses? Once you have your SEO under control, see how your site is doing, and how much business it’s throwing to your front door. If you’re not happy with the results, then you need to look at a bunch of things, including:
- is your site helping guide people toward the purchase that you want?
- are there other factors affecting your ranking?
- what can you reasonably expect advertising to do for you, and what is wishful thinking?
In my opinion, advertising requires a much greater investment of time to understand, and is a riskier use of your money, than good SEO (and good SEO training).