What is Small Business SEO?
Before we go into the services that an SEO agency offers, let's first make sure you understand what SEO is. Many business owners consider search engine optimization (SEO) a mystery those with insider knowledge can only solve. Yes, an SEO service business will have inside insight that you may not, but understanding the basics is essential, and they can be broken down into simple concepts:
- With search engine optimization you are not optimizing the search engines as much as you are optimizing your content and website to make it easier for the search engines to find and index your content. Much of the search engines are based on artificial intelligence and algorithms. Both AI and the algorithms are built on and around user behavior, with the aim of being the most trusted source of information out there. The bottom line is that you are actually optimizing for search engine users, or individuals who are similar to you.
- SEO is a series of activities that work together to help search engines like Google, Bing or Duck Duck Go discover your NC small business website, realize it is a trustworthy source, organize the content you publish on it so that they can show it to users searching for it.
Let’s look at each part more closely.
Search Engines are the most popular ways for people to find products, services, and businesses around them (hence the term "local search"). They will use search engines such as Google or Bing to input a search phrase or inquiry (also known as a keyword). The search engines will then return the results it has determined to be the most relevant and useful, including local results whenever possible.
In fact, in many situations, the local results occupy the top of the page on both desktop and mobile. When I put "coffee shop" into Google without specifying my location, this is what I get:
The search engines (i.e., Duck Duck Go, Bing, or Google) employ complicated algorithms (or formulas) to locate, analyze, and rank pages in order to find that information. The engine's "spiders" continually crawl the web, screen every page they encounter with this algorithm, and store the results in their index or database. When a person searches, Google returns results from its index rather than the live internet.
The main thing to know is that SEO is all about conveying the quality of your website’s pages and their relevance to certain places and words in a language that a computer can comprehend, such as meta tags.
For your prospective clients to find you via a Google search, you have to rank high on Google, preferably on the first page and in the first few results. As a result, you have to optimize your content for search engines. As a result, the phrase "search engine optimization" was coined.
At this point, a small business SEO service comes into action. SEO produces significant and long-term effects, but only when done correctly. As a small business or solopreneur, it can be challenging to implement all of these optimizations correctly, let alone figure out what those methods to begin with. So, let us discuss SEO marketing services.
Why Hire an SEO Services Company?
So I've just shown that search is a highly localized concept, and it is for this simple fact that it is a viable small business marketing technique. But why should you choose an SEO service company?
SEO Is a Complicated Process
Even though I have condensed SEO into its core elements above, it is still a complex topic to grasp and master. Small business SEO isn't any less important than enterprise SEO. As I said previously, SEO is a collection of tactics that work together to increase exposure on local search engine results pages (local SERPs). While you may be able to accomplish the basics of SEO, if you can't execute all of the approaches, your efforts will be ineffective, then you have just wasted time and money when you could have been doing something else.
SEO Requires Ongoing Work
SEO is not a one-trick pony or a one-and-done marketing strategy. While there are often one-time adjustments that require little to no upkeep, proper SEO is a never-ending job. It involves:
- Regularly publishing new, high-quality content
- Constantly updating existing pages for accuracy
- Returning to old pages and adding connections to new pages
- Promoting material via additional channels such as social media and email.
Many small business owners already have enough on their plate just running their day-to-day operations. With the help of a North Carolina SEO services company, your website can generate traffic and leads for you in the background, allowing you to focus on your clients.
SEO Is a Moving Target
Google utilizes a complicated algorithm that takes into consideration different ranking indicators to assess the quality, relevancy, and accuracy of a website, as I discussed in the "engine" portion of the SEO previously. We, as SEO professionals, are aware of many of the ranking factors, but not all of them. Furthermore, Google's algorithm is always changing. A small business SEO service, such as Cube Creative Design, can keep up with these algorithm updates and pivot much faster than a larger agency.
Knowledge and Tools
Free keyword tools such as the list below are excellent tools to use when you are developing content and doing SEO tasks. These SEO tools and software service subscriptions can also be extremely helpful. However, you have to understand how to make the most of them. A professional SEO service provider has both the knowledge, skills, and tools that, when combined, can provide you with a significant advantage over your competition.
Free, Freemium, and Paid Tools
- Semrush Keyword Magic Tool
- Google Search Console
- Google Ads Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Rank Tracker
- Keyword Surfer
- Keyword Sheeter
Benefits of Using a Website SEO Service Agency
So, we've seen how much work an SEO partner can take off your local North Carolina small business marketing to-do list, but now let's talk about what you get in return.
Stay Focused on Growth
As I mentioned before, SEO takes time (usually 6 to 9-months) not only for each individual tactic but also for continuing maintenance and staying on top of Google's algorithm updates. By hiring a website SEO agency, you no longer have to dive down the rabbit hole of Google updates, meta tag how-tos, and SEO audits. This means you'll have more time to work on the business rather than working in it.
See Quick(er) Success
As I mentioned before, SEO efforts often take several weeks or even months to bear fruit in terms of extra website traffic, prospects, leads, and clients. So, while I am a firm believer in learning on the job, SEO's long turnaround time makes it a difficult setting for trial and error or on-the-job training. A North Carolina small business SEO agency has the experts who have the combined years of knowledge to quickly discover quick wins and stumbling blocks that would otherwise take you the small business years to achieve.
This screenshot shows the growth of a pest control client who competes with very large enterprises in the space. For this client, we saw significant growth 20 months into the organic SEO campaign. Therefore a North Carolina small business SEO service provider can take your organic traffic from meh to explosive growth.
Understanding Your Data
The faster you can increase your website traffic, the more valuable data will be, and you will have more to work with. But what kind of data is useful? How are you supposed to make sense of it all? Another advantage of hiring a small business SEO service agency is that they can analyze your website traffic and extract crucial information to help you achieve your small business goals and objectives.
In addition, they can help you see:
- The demographic profile of your target audience or buyer persona
- Which pages are getting the most visits
- Which calls to action are being the most effective
- Which landing pages convert the highest
These insights will guide your future content strategy and allow your SEO provider to narrow down their efforts to only those that are worth your investment.
Crank up Your Marketing Flywheel
Getting started with SEO will be slow, but proper SEO strategies implemented by a reputable SEO company will eventually create a cycle that reinforces itself. As more visitors reach your pages in search results pages, your website rank rises. With more visitors arriving and staying on your pages, you will start to rank higher. Then more sites will link to your pages with a higher rank and broader exposure to your high-value content. This increases your domain authority, credibility, and reliability, which further improves your website rank. And so on. And the higher you rank on Google, the more you will effectively reach your target audience.
Generate More Leads and More Sales
When SEO is done correctly, you will notice more traffic and more qualified visitors to your website. Because search engines offer results to users who are actively searching for a certain term or phrase, rising to the top of the SERPs means you're providing information to the people who need it the most, at the time they need it. This means that people who find your site through Google, Bing, or Duck Duck Go are more likely to convert.
The bottom line is that getting to the top of the SERPS means you are getting your information in front of the right people who want it when they want or need it most.
What Will an SEO Services Company Do?
At this point, we have covered the basics of SEO, but if you're considering hiring an SEO services company for your local small business, you may be wondering exactly what they'll do. In this section, we'll delve a little further into their strategies so you can develop a more realistic picture and be familiar with phrases that may come up during your conversations and interviews with an SEO service provider.
An SEO services company's on-page efforts are focused on the "crawlability" and usability of your website's pages. They will optimize the parts of your website that are visible to the public and read by search engines, including:
- Content: They'll ensure sure your pages' content is relevant to the keywords you're targeting, as well as valuable and high-quality.
- Experience: They'll use website analytics to evaluate a page's user experience and suggest improvements.
- Structure: They will ensure that your website's linking hierarchy is well-organized and easy for search engines to crawl.
- Metadata: They will ensure that each page has title tags, headers, image tags, and meta descriptions that include the targeted keywords.
A professional SEO services company will also use off-page SEO techniques that will involve backend elements of your website. They will help you with:
- Domain authority: They will make sure you're consistently building trust with Google and all the search engines.
- Site performance: Includes website load time, responsiveness, and image sizes.
- Backlinks: They will help you get links to your site from other trusted high domain authority sites.
Want to learn more? I have a deep dive on On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO in this complete guide post.
Seven Tips for Choosing a Small Business SEO Service Provider
It might be hard to begin your search for the “best SEO agency in North Carolina.” Therefore to assist you in navigating the hundreds of agencies that all claim to be the “best,” I have created a shortlist of the seven key considerations:
1. Look Beyond the #1 Ranked Agency
Sure, you may argue that they must know what they're doing since they've made it to the top, but by doing so, you risk overlooking other high performers who may be closer to you geographically, smaller, and more personal to deal with. Many SEO agencies are great at what they do. Instead of focusing on ranking for highly competitive keywords, the majority of their income comes from referrals and word of mouth.
2. Let Reviews and Testimonials Do the Talking
Agencies that claim to be experts in SEO but lack testimonials, reviews, references, and evidence to back it up should be avoided at all costs. Top-performing SEO agencies will have a slew of testimonials, reviews, and statistics to back up their claims. These are the SEO companies you should add to your shortlist.
3. Read Their Case Studies
Reviews and testimonials frequently emphasize the importance of working with an SEO agency. However, you should also ensure that they have case studies describing the specifics of their success. Case studies are useful since they cut to the chase and demonstrate whether or not a Local North Carolina SEO agency can deliver on its promises.
4. See if They Specialize in Anything
As appealing as it may appear to go with a business that does it all, you may discover that your money is better spent on an agency that specializes in certain services or industries. Trying to be the best at everything SEO-related is a lofty goal that only a few professionals can fulfill. Research, the service providers you are considering to determine whether they have expertise that is relevant to your niche, industry, or problem areas.
5. Look for an educational provider
While a quality SEO service provider will do the legwork for you, an excellent SEO agency will not only keep you informed but will also educate you along the way. Not only will you have peace of mind knowing that your money is being well-spent, but you will also learn and possibly even acquire a few tools and tricks to conducting your own SEO.
6. Know Your Budget
When it comes to deciding which businesses to keep on the shortlist and which to cut, it's important to know how much money you have available to spend on SEO. Additionally, you won't have to worry about cash flow six months into a 12-month campaign. Don't be scared to ask your SEO services company about all of the payment methods available to you.
7. Get Personal With a Consultation
Having a one-on-one conversation with an SEO agency is the best way to learn about them. You'll be able to see how they do business and see whether there is any chemistry between the two of you.
What Questions Should You Ask During an SEO Service Consultation
For numerous reasons, many small business owners are hesitant about hiring SEO specialists. I have heard horror stories about small businesses who have hired so-called SEO experts only to see their hard-earned dollars work for a short period of time, or these business owners watched their site ranking tank. Therefore you want to avoid anyone who can promise you guaranteed rankings or automatic link exchanges.
Here are seven more questions you should be asking any SEO agency:
- Exactly how and how often will we be communicating?
- What contracts, budgets, and service options are available?
- What steps will you take to help to improve our rankings?
- When was the last time you dealt with a business like ours?
- What can we expect in terms of results?
- What is the process of canceling a contract?
- What kinds of tools do you use?
Does Your North Carolina Small Business Need SEO Services?
As the world of online marketing expands, so does the competitive landscape, making SEO for local small businesses even more vital than ever. In the end, aside from the fees of a website, SEO is essentially free; however, there are no shortcuts as SEO is a collection of efforts that, when combined, will boost your ranking and exposure over time. Suppose you aren't sure about your ability to continuously generate relevant and high-quality content, properly place keywords in the metadata, or make other technical changes to your website. In that case, an SEO professional may be the best option for you.