The fundamentals of SEO for small business owners
Updated: Oct 16
Jonathan Myers-Lamptey is Founder of Opera Media, a well established digital advertising agency, specialising in driving qualified traffic to your website. We all know the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO), but as a small business, it can be extremely daunting to know where to start and how and when to invest. I talk to Jonathan about some of the fundamentals of SEO.
1. Tell me about your business?
Having broken away from previous London based agencies we are proud to now be in our 10th year. Our main services include SEO, paid search and social.
2. What is SEO?
‘Search engine optimisation’ - the practice of increasing quality traffic to your site via organic search results (essentially Google!).
3. What is the difference between SEO & SEM?
SEM is ‘Search Engine Marketing’, it is technically an umbrella term for both paid search (PPC) and organic (SEO). PPC is 'pay per click' advertising where you can directly bid on target terms to increase your exposure. SEO, on the other hand, does not include direct keyword bidding, but a series of onsite and offsite improvements to improve your website rankings.
4. Which one is most important?
There is a role for both. However, depending on your industry once the fundamentals of SEO are all in place a well managed PPC campaign may prove the most responsive way to grow your customers.
5. What is the role of each?
Every site should at first have their site optimised to a decent level. It makes it easier for Google to understand your services and present them correctly, which will ultimately mean free traffic and exposure. Having the fundamentals in place is a bit like having a shoe shop on the high street, ensuring that the sign is clearly displayed, well lit, and it's clear that you sell shoes. When there is a need to buy a new shoe shoppers will know where you are.
Once SEO is established, to carry the analogy further, PPC can work well in advertising your services to other towns beyond your high street as you now do home delivery. This extends your audience far beyond your immediate locality, furthermore, you can also use PPC to retarget previous buyers for a repeat purchase or offer incentives for those that didn't convert the first time around.
All such tools will prove extremely effective in growing your business and delivering results.
6. What is the right balance?
This varies, depending on what’s already in place, your products and services and the level of competition you’re up against.
7. What sort of budget should you set aside if you are a small start-up?
This will depend on your products and services but as a guide for a small startup you could be looking at £1-3k a year for SEO and PPC each.
The most important consideration of all, however, is the expertise of the person working on the account. There are many self-proclaimed ‘experts' and be cautious of what results they may claim to deliver and how will this translate to real customers and revenue.
8. How long will it take me to get to the first page of Google?
This depends on the keywords, competition, your services and also resource. In many instances, if SEO is likely to be slow for target terms, PPC can substitute - where with the right budget, you can guarantee a first-page listing overnight.
9. What tips would you give a business that is starting out and has no budget to invest in SEO & SEM?
Do as much of your own research as possible. Install Google Analytics and have an understanding of some your site’s key metrics such as sessions, traffic sources and customers. Then commission a good consultant for a review. Half a day with a good consultant shouldn’t cost the earth but could prove priceless!
10. How will SEO & SEM change over the next year? And in the next 5 years?
SEO will continue to get more and more competitive and as a result, will drive more business towards PPC. With the sheer volume and increased competition in PPC these costs will also continue to rise. It is not all doom and gloom though, there will continue to be opportunities with new products and features however to make gains would require increasing skill of the manager of both the SEO and PPC accounts to ensure the campaign is continuing to deliver in the challenging marketplace.
For more tips on marketing, please have a look at my blog the Sharp end.