How SEO Works for Small Businesses

Yellow Pages United SEO
Millions of people use search engines every day to search for products and services online. These searches vary from carpet cleaning to yoga classes to restaurants and everything in between. Statistically, the top results of these searches get the majority of the traffic. The first spot on a search engine’s results page typically gets more than 33% of the clicks for that search, and the results decrease rapidly from there, reports advertising firm Chitika. Websites in the second spot typically get around 18% of the traffic, 13% in the third spot and so on down from there. Websites not ranking on the first page of search engine results typically get less than 1% of the traffic for a particular web search. Small businesses with optimized websites can see great benefits from ranking higher in search results, and as part of an overall marketing strategy, SEO can help increase a company’s exposure to potential customers.

Most small businesses have limited marketing budgets, so deciding where to invest marketing dollars can be a challenge. Determining the ROI for potential marketing strategies is often one of the main determinants in allocating the marketing budget. This is difficult to do for SEO, but a rough estimate can be obtained by using the Google Keyword Tool. A good example of this would be the search term “air conditioning Miami,” which gets approximately 8,100 local searches per month. This means that the business whose website ranks in the first position when this term is searched would, theoretically, get approximately 33% of the traffic from this search. A conservative estimate would be 25% of the traffic, or 2,000 visitors to their website. If the business’s website was able to convert just 5% of those visitors into customers, it would result in 100 new customers a month. If this business made an average of $100 dollars per customer, then it would be valuable for the business to pursue an SEO strategy if it would cost them less than $10,000 a month. This technique allows businesses to calculate a rough estimate of the potential ROI for SEO marketing strategies, and can be adjusted to reflect different industries.

SEO also provides unique benefits to small businesses by allowing them to compete with larger businesses on a local level. Within the past couple of years, search engines have begun to place a much higher emphasis on local search results. While a small business may never be able to compete with a large corporation for a general search term such as “air conditioning,” it could compete for a term such as “air conditioning Daytona Beach.” Localizing the search helps businesses to focus only on geographical areas relevant to their business and levels the playing field with competitors who have much larger budgets.

Another important benefit of SEO over other advertising platforms is that it’s an investment in a business’s website. Normal marketing platforms have a short life of relevance and usefulness, while SEO continues to compound month after month. SEO is not a short-term strategy, but more of a long-term investment. A business’s website builds credibility and rankings over time with search engines by implementing clean, recommended SEO practices.

Challenges of SEO for small businesses

The above example shows how an effective SEO strategy can have a significant impact on a business. While the benefits of SEO are apparent at a glance, implementing an effective SEO strategy can be difficult for small business owners. One reason is that search results are carefully calculated by search engines that use proprietary algorithms. SEO strategies are based around the theoretical breakdown of these algorithms, and there are many different schools of thought on which is the best. While there are significant amounts of information available on how to optimize your site and rank better, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. This constant updating has frustrated many small business owners, turning them away from a potentially beneficial marketing avenue. Others have been penalized by the search engines for trying to manipulate the rankings. This can be through no fault of the business owners, who may not know what they did to become penalized. Rectifying this often requires the expertise of an SEO expert.

Picking the best solution for your company

Whether a company decides to hire a professional or do SEO themselves, it should be a part of every marketing strategy. Choosing how and where to implement SEO strategies can make all of the difference for many businesses, and choosing the wrong ones can yield few results or even be costly. Small businesses have more options than ever before when choosing to implement an SEO strategy, and many successful SEO alternatives are available to businesses of all kinds.

One of those alternatives is Yellow Pages United recognized early that small businesses faced a steep learning curve to marketing their business online using SEO and has developed a new business web page to address that need.  Read more about how BizYellow can be an effective part of your SEO strategy.


Yellow Pages United is an independent online national directory publisher. Yellow Pages United  is not affiliated with any other Yellow Pages company that might be mentioned in this article and is not affiliated with AT&T or your local directory publisher.

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