You are probably familiar with the statistic that 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first 18 months. There are many reasons why this is the case. For example, many businesses fail to develop a true understanding of their target audience before developing their business plan and marketing strategy. It is also fairly common for small businesses to differentiate themselves from similar businesses in the market. But one thing that is guaranteed to set you up for failure as a small business owner is a weak marketing strategy. Keep reading to learn more about marketing strategies for small business owners and how SEO can make or break you.
Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners
Running a successful business is all about profit margins. If you make more money than you spend, you are going to succeed. In order to maximize profits, you need to limit expenditures and that means doing things in the most efficient way possible – that is where a clear marketing strategy comes into play. Some small business owners make the mistake of throwing away a ton of money on a fancy website, custom business cards, and billboards all over town when they really should be starting out much more simply. As your business grows, so will your marketing strategy. You don’t want to rush things, however, because you’ll need to adjust your strategy as you learn more about your market and as you see how well your products perform.
So, what are the keys to a successful marketing strategy for small business owners? Here are the top five that you should really focus on:
- Narrow down your target audience
- Decide which category, or niche, your business occupies
- Determine what unique benefit your company offers
- Identify your true competition
- Clearly determine what sets you apart from competitors
If you are going to succeed as a small business owner, you need to know the answers to these questions down to the finest detail. But it is more than that – you also need to allow those answers to inform every business decision that you make. Once you’ve answered these questions you can decide how best to reach your target audience and how to set yourself apart from the competition. For many small business owners, having a strong website is the best way to do this. Keep reading to learn some SEO strategies for helping your business to stand out online.
The Top SEO Tips for Small Businesses
Having a strong online presence is a must these days, for business small and large. With new technology being invented each and every day, more and more businesses are moving from brick-and-mortar locations to online stores. With a strong online marketing strategy, you have the capacity to reach a huge number of people, but only if you do things the right way. The following SEO strategies will help you to take the answers to those five questions you answered earlier and to put them to use:
- Optimize the information on your website to improve your search rankings. First, you need to choose a domain name that accurately reflects the type of business you have – you may also want to include location details, if applicable. Next, use relevant keywords in the title for each page that will help to identify your business, its services, and your location. You should also make sure that your business name, address, and contact info is on each page.
- Take advantage of local business listings. Especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business, you want to improve your local SEO. The best way to do this is to take advantage of local business listings, not just Google and other major search engines.
- Link your social media pages to your website. Always include a link to your website in email communications and frequently share links on your Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. Just don’t become too spammy or it could hurt your search engine rankings.
- Ask for user reviews and respond to as many as you can. Regardless what marketing strategy you choose, word of mouth is always going to be a powerful tool for getting your name out there. Offer your customers the ability to leave ratings and reviews on your website and respond to each review, if you can. If it is a positive review, thank the customer for their feedback – if it is negative, encourage the customer to contact you directly about their concerns.
- Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Nowadays it is easy to make your website mobile-friendly – you just need a plugin like Wordpress. You should also optimize your website so that it will perform well and load quickly.
- Stay up to date with industry news. Your customers want to know that they are getting the best thing that is out there and that means constantly improving and reacting to changes in the market. You can use your social media platforms to react to news in your industry and to engage your customers.
- Offer informative, valuable content to your customers. Your website doesn’t need to be just a page with your contact information on it – it can also be a valuable tool for your customers to consult for relevant information. Many small businesses have blogs on their website or they provide useful information that is relevant to their product offerings. If you offer this kind of content of your website, you need to be constantly updating it so that it is favored by Google rankings.
- Don’t forget about internal links. Linking different pages together on your website will make it easier for your customers to navigate which could keep them on your site longer – that will help to boost your Google rankings. Don’t go too crazy, but if it is relevant and useful, throw in a link!
- Optimize your images and use meta tags. Everything on your website can be a tool for SEO – even your images! In addition to adding a caption for your images, you should also add an Alt Text description. And make sure to include relevant keywords!
- Take advantage of Google analytics. None of these SEO tools are going to do you any good unless you have some way to gauge their performance – that is where Google analytics comes into play. You can sign up for a free account and use it to keep track of how many people are viewing your website, where most of your traffic comes from, and which of your keywords are performing the strongest.
Running a small business is no easy task. It takes a great deal of time and research to create a strong business model and, once you do, you must then take the time to learn about your target audience and to determine how best to reach them. More and more, small businesses make or break themselves depending on the strength of their marketing strategy – particularly their online marketing strategy. By employing the top ten SEO tips listed above, you can improve your small business’ chances for success. Good luck!