SEO can transform a small business, but can Search Engine Optimisation transform YOUR business? Will SEO work for you? Is SEO worth it? SEO consultant Mark Reynolds from ProfitReach, a Leamington Spa SEO/Content Marketing consultancy, offers his advice…
Article by: Mark Reynolds, the founder and owner of ProfitReach. Mark first applied SEO to a small business website in 2002. In every role since, he has used SEO to grow web enquiries for small businesses. He’s a trusted speaker, delivering SEO/Google Analytics workshops for Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and other organisations. Today he’s here to help you. Need Mark’s help? Get in touch.
- Read time: 9 min.
- Who will find the most value? Small business owners, marketing directors and marketing managers looking to build towards SEO success in 2024 and beyond.
You don’t want do invest time and money into SEO if at the end of it there’s nothing to show. So how do you tell if SEO will work for you? How do you tell if SEO is worth it?
SEO success is never guaranteed.
It doesn’t work for everyone.
Across the world there have been countless failed SEO campaigns. But SEO has also transformed hundreds of thousands of businesses.
Why? Because SEO truly works when the business and product/service is right.
I’ve been applying SEO to websites since 2002. When SEO is carried out in the right way, the largest source of quality website leads and enquiries for a small business is often Google organic.
Google is a super power when it comes to the amount of traffic and the quality of that traffic. This organic Google traffic really does convert.
With hard work, the right work, SEO could transform your business. So let’s see if SEO is an opportunity for you.
SEO Won’t Work If…
- SEO won’t work if you want to start it today and immediately get a higher number of quality web enquiries. If you need results right now, take a look at Google Ads instead to give you a better chance of that quicker return.
- You have to be prepared to give SEO time to work. But if you have the budget you could do Google Ads and SEO. They both have their place in a small business marketing strategy.
- SEO won’t work if not enough people search Google for your products and/or services. SEO doesn’t change how people search. It won’t help you drive up searches where interest is already low. And so it’s critical to use keyword research to find out what people are searching for and how many are searching. It’s going to make your job much harder if you spend time and money optimising your website for search queries that not enough people are searching for in Google.
How can I tell how many people search for our small business products/services?
Start by carrying out some basic keyword research to find out the average number of monthly Google searches for your products/services.
The best tool is Google’s Keyword Planner. There are other keyword research tools out there, but Keyword Planner gives you data straight from Google, so you can be confident in its accuracy.
NB. It’s important not to make decisions if you’re not confident about reading the data in front of you. You might want to get an SEO specialist involved here to help.
A few points to remember.
How do I choose the right geographical location to target?
Make sure that your audience in the Keyword Planner reflects the audience you’re targeting.
At the top of the planner you can select your audience, eg United Kingdom, USA or somewhere more precise.
You can choose specific cities like Bristol or Coventry, counties like Warwickshire or South Gloucestershire. Or even at a town level, like Leamington Spa or Yate near Bristol etc. You can even select by postcode/zipcode.
Start By Inserting Your Website Address
There will be a box in Google’s Keyword Planner into which you can insert your website’s address.
Google’s tool will then spit out all the keywords that it associates with your website.
It’s a great way to see whether your website content talks about your products and services enough, and whether Google understands your website.
You can also put competitors’ websites into the keyword tool to see what Google thinks their website is all about. This can also give you great ideas for search terms to target.
What’s a good number of monthly Google UK searches?
I can’t tell you what’s a good number of monthly searches. I would need to know a lot more about your business.
But here’s some more tips.
- Only a small percentage of those people that search on Google for a specific term/phrase will actually click on your result. This depends on your position on the search results page.
- It also depends on how relevant your webpage is related to the intent of the searcher.
- The percentage of searches that result in clicks could be anywhere between 0% and approximately 50% (if you’re very very lucky).
- A search for your company name will result in much higher clicks than a search for a more general keyword where you’re in position 8.
If you get it right, the reward from SEO can be significant.
Get it wrong and you can waste time and money, but don’t let that freeze you into inaction.
Make sure you thoroughly investigate whether SEO is right for you.
“Not many people are searching Google for my products/services”
If your service isn’t one that lots of people search for, you can still create a successful SEO strategy, drive customers and get a return on your investment.
The initial SEO research stage requires an SEO specialist to help you make the right decision. Before you decide whether SEO is right for you or not, speak to a trustworthy SEO specialist. That could be an in-house specialist, an SEO consultant or SEO company.
It could be a big mistake to discount or enact SEO without the advice of a trusted SEO specialist. I say trusted because if you go to an SEO company and ask them if SEO will work, then they have a vested interested.
You need to find a trustworthy specialist (get in touch if you need my unbiased advice).
Some of the advice I mention below should also help.
When will I know if SEO has worked?
If one of your SEO goals is to increase brand recognition, then during months 3-6 you should see a continual improvement in the number of times your brand has been viewed in Google.
If your goal is only to increase qualified traffic then you will only know if SEO truly works for your organisation once you’ve rigorously followed a high quality SEO strategy for 12-18 months.
SEO Success = Spending ENOUGH TIME on the RIGHT THINGS.
Remember, all these estimates of SEO success timelines are useless if you’re spending time on the wrong things, or not enough time on the right things.
World SEO authority Rand Fishkin says that even if the success of your SEO campaign can’t be judged fully until 12-18 months, you should see progress in Google during months 3-6.
You should start ranking well for some keywords in months 6-9, and yes, you’ll have to wait until months 12-18 to really shine.
But this all depends on the competition for your target keywords and the resources that you’re putting into SEO.
There’s no time for being half-hearted.
If you’re going to see results in 12-18 months then you need to be working hard every month on SEO. Success in Google won’t just happen by itself.
The key during that journey to 18 months is that you don’t just wait in the hope of success. You don’t simply agree with your SEO consultant if they say “you need to be patient”.
If SEO is going to work for you, you need to have the right conversations with your specialist and hold them accountable.
There’s quite a lot of risk if SEO is your only way of attracting more traffic and web enquiries.
Spread the risk, by also investing in services like Google Ads where you can get quicker results.
You should also be looking to grow your email list so that you can nurture the people who come to your website from Google.
Work closely with your SEO specialist
As the months of your SEO campaign progress, make sure whoever is managing your SEO is completely transparent and that you hold them to account.
Will SEO work for my business?
1. What is your primary SEO goal?
You must know what you want to get from SEO before you ask any more questions.
- You need to look beyond generating traffic.
- Is it brand awareness?
- Are you looking to get more meetings booked? eg. do you want to generate more high quality web enquiries?
Once you have clarity about your primary goal, it will be easier to answer the questions below.
SEO is not just about generating more traffic, it’s about achieving much more.
2. Can our target keywords make money?
Do your target keywords have a high commercial intent?
A good initial way to see if SEO could work for you is to carry out a few searches for your main products or services in Google.
Your goal is to find out if your keywords have a medium to high level of commercial intent.
If they do, then you’ve got a better chance of increasing revenue. Competition may be slightly higher, but at least if you get it right, you’ve got a chance of transforming your business.
- It’s best to search privately using something like Google Chrome Incognito Mode.
- Do a typical search on Google (on desktop rather than mobile) for one of your main target products/services.
- Do adverts appear at the top of that search results page?
If a high number of adverts appear at the top of the results eg. 4 adverts, then the commercial intent of that search is likely to be high. Your competitors are already advertising on Google in high numbers because they have probably proven that people who search for these words are willing to spend money.
If you see one or more adverts, then it’s certainly worth doing more research. Google could be a great place for you to invest in Search Engine Optimisation and to advertise with Google Ads.
But what if you’re not seeing many ads? Try again at a different time of the day. Or better still, try Google’s Ad Preview & Diagnostic Tool (Google Ads account needed). That tool gives you an unaltered view of the search results.
Still not seeing many ads? Do some more thorough keyword research and see what ads are showing for other related searches.
Still no ads? It could be that other companies have tested the water and the commercial intent isn’t high enough. Maybe SEO isn’t the way to go. However it would be foolish to write it off without getting an SEO specialists advice.
13 Reasons Why Even Switched On Business Owners Fail At SEO
SEO is only worth it if it’s approached in the right way. Get it wrong and you will fail – your closest competitor could reap the rewards.
- You don’t get clear on your primary SEO goal. SEO isn’t about getting more traffic, it’s about getting new customers. Make sure you have SMART goals in place and avoid being a rudderless SEO ship.
- Not enough people search Google for your products or services. Doing your keyword research is critical. You will waste the time and money invested in SEO if no one’s actually searching for the search terms you’re targeting.
- Your SEO specialist has not created a suitable SEO plan/strategy. Successful SEO starts with an intelligent SEO strategy/plan – if you get this wrong then you will affect your chances of success.
- You aim for perfecting website content, instead of getting it published.
You might have lots of passion for SEO and creating amazing content, but one of the biggest SEO mistakes is perfecting website content that never sees the light of day. Aiming for perfection can make SEO a very slow process. Make sure you publish awesome content at regular intervals, that your audience will love. It’s not like sending a brochure design to the printers to be printed 10,000 times. Publish your content once you think your audience will get enough value – you can always update it in the future.
- You don’t tell anyone about your website content, so not many people see it.
An important part of SEO is getting people to see your content. If you keep spending time publishing your content without focusing on promoting it, then your content could disappear into the depths of your website and not be seen much on Google. The top content publishers spend 20% writing an article and 80% promoting it.
- You or your SEO specialist is failing to execute your SEO strategy/strategies to the required standard. If you have a good plan in place, then it counts for nothing if your specialist is executing your SEO strategy poorly. You need to trust they’re up to the task and hold them accountable.
- You stop looking at your SEO strategy. It’s not just your SEO consultant who needs to keep looking at your strategy. You do too. There’s no point in having a plan if you don’t stick to it, evaluate it and amend as you move forward. It has to form the backbone of your SEO efforts. If you go off-piste then your progress could substantially slow.
- You find there’s too much competition in the search results. Even though you execute your SEO strategies perfectly and you have the right SEO resources, you find the competition in the results is too high. You struggle to make progress. You need to consider investing more resources, or change your SEO strategy.
- You don’t have the confidence or desire for SEO to succeed. It’s not good enough to just dabble with SEO and have a go for a few months to see what happens. Or do it for 6 months and then stop. You need to do your research up front and be in it for the long term. Get your approach right from the beginning and get your confidence early. Hire and fire quickly if you’re getting SEO help, but get it right – put everything behind getting SEO success.
- You don’t invest the required resources. SEO needs time and money. Don’t expect to make progress without investing both. If you try to cut down on costs by doing it yourself, then there’s a good chance your results could suffer.
- You don’t have the time to create and implement your SEO strategy. If you’re a business owner, or marketing director, chances are you’re trying to spin a lot of plates. If you’re tasked with SEO and can’t give it the time it needs, you’re going to be up against it from the word go. A lot of work goes into successful SEO campaigns, if you don’t have the time then consider investing in other resources.
- You don’t have the knowledge or experience to hire or assign SEO specialists – instead you hire someone who’s more interested in learning SEO, or worse still, isn’t passionate about your business and swallows your money without a desire to get results. You don’t want to be in the same place in 12 months time. Whether you hire in-house or outsource, make sure you hire well.
- You or your team don’t have the SEO knowledge or experience to execute a SEO strategy. If you spend the next 6 months – 24 months learning SEO instead of implementing proven strategies, progress will be slow and you will waste your opportunity. Get it right from the start.
If SEO will work for your business in 2024 and beyond then it’s time to start doing it properly.
As my favourite chinese proverb goes,
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
In other words. Don’t despair if your competitors have been doing SEO for the last 3-20 years.
Simply tell yourself that today is “Day 1”.
Today is much better than tomorrow for making SEO work for your business. And it’s certainly better than ‘never’.
Get in touch / send me an email if you have any questions about whether SEO will work for your business, or if you need any other SEO help. Or you want to speak to me on the phone for an informal discussion, call me, Mark Reynolds (ProfitReach founder) on 01926 356300 or 01454 858754.
Over to you. Is SEO right for you?