SEO STRATEGY : How Small to Mid Sized Businesses Should Look at Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

SEO STRATEGY : How Small to Mid Sized Businesses Should Look at Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the major buzzwords today, specifically as a means to get a step ahead of your competition. Concurrently, there is so much misinformation out there, and over 95% of the people (this is my estimate) do not really have a thorough understanding of it.

When an small to mid-sized enterprise (SME) is looking to increase their visibility and brand recognition online, SEO is the first thing that should be looked at and implemented. Some of the main reasons are:
• It forces you to look at your content through the eyes of the customer
• It forces you to identify and serve your target market (s)
• If done properly, you WILL see returns
• It forces you, if seen from the proper perspective, to take a long-term approach to your brand equity, your communications, and your strategy

When I read blogs, or when I talk with people, the major question that most people have is they do not know how much to pay for SEO. For good SEO and for a significant, qualitative increase in online image and visibility, the following must be done:
• Thorough customer analysis
• Goal-setting tied to your customer analysis
• Keyword Analysis tied to your customer analysis
• Thorough analysis of current website, if one exists
• Content must be built
• Competitive analysis
• Blog analysis and blog creation
This list is not exhaustive, but for the sake of brevity i will stop there.

A lot of the tools are available, and should be used, for example:
• Keyword Search tools
• Inbound Link tools
• Widgets
• XML Sitemaps
This list is not complete, there are a myriad of tools available.

SEO is not something that should be taken lightly, nor is it something that can be done thoroughly for $200 or for $50 a month. Therefore, how you approach SEO and who does your SEO should never be solely a price-driven decision. The best approaches to SEO strategy are well rounded, take time to develop, and should be a MANDATORY part of a company’s strategy because:

• The Web is often the first impression that customers’ have of the company, and this is particularly important for those companies that want to get new customers!
• It forces companies to look at themselves and their marketing in a constructive, customer-centric manner.

SEO can be done internally, that is an undisputed fact, and if anyone tells you that it cannot be done internally they do not know what they are talking about. However, if one wants to do SEO internally, you must be able to devote adequate time and resources to it. First of all, they must take the time to learn. My recommendation would be to read Search Engine Optimization: An Hour A Day, by Jennifer Grappone and Gradiva Couzin.

Once you learn about SEO, then you must implement. A significant amount of time must be devoted to the initial stages and research. Then, as the title of the book states; “An hour a day” is a recommended (I would suggest a minimum) time to devote to your SEO. The books’ suggestion can be extrapolated as twenty hours per month or more (assuming weekdays only, and assuming a small-to-mid sized business). If you are going to outsource, keep that time period of twenty hours a month in your mind when looking at the pricing and level of service. The number of hours can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis (given the size of the website, level of service, co-operation between the parties involved, e-commerce, analytics, etc.), but as a baseline, twenty to thirty hours is good for a SME.

If one cannot devote the time or energy into learning the tactics and following up with implementation, one should outsource. The question is not IF you should do SEO, but WHEN; and price should not be your only selection criteria.

Aaron Anticic is with Delivering Customers, a digital marketing agency that builds online campaigns for companies throughout Ontario, Canada.

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