The biggest problem with SEO for small businesses is that there is very little middle ground. You often have to go “all in” to get page one results for the top keywords in your industry. There are only so many first page spots available in search results, and the websites at the top are generally very well entrenched.
The more valuable the keywords the more it will take to get results. For instance, keywords related to attorneys and insurance are very valuable and you can be assured that the firms showing up on the first page of organic results (non-paid ads) have spent a lot of resources on SEO.
For your business to leap ahead of theirs, you’ll have to do a great deal of work or spend a large sum of money with an SEO company that can produce results.
Happily, not all keywords or search terms are highly difficult. For instance, local keyword-related searches can be easier, as can “long tail” keywords. An example of a long-tail keyword search is: “Local plumber for overflowing toilet in DesMoines”.
A quick search for that type of term in your area will show you local competition that may or may not have focused on that keyword grouping. In certain industries, the long-tail keywords can have quite a bit of competition as well.
Given the difficulty of getting page one search results, is it worth the time, effort, and money?
If you’re in a difficult industry it might not be. If you’re in an industry or area where the SEO competition for your keywords is not so great, then it can be very worthwhile to attempt to gain the results you want. Doing it yourself or “in-house” might be the only way you can budget the cost to get there.
By doing this you’ll gain internal SEO expertise for your industry and area so the payoff, in the long run, can be well worth the time. You’ll have to learn the intricate details, be committed to the process, and be patient with getting results, but it is doable.
If you are in an over-saturated, high competition industry, you might be best to focus on other areas of marketing such as referral marketing and networking.
You should, however, make sure you’re doing the proper Basic SEO on your website, and that you’ve taken care of setting up your local business listings with the top search engines.
Where to get the DIY training you’ll need.
A word of warning before you think that this is an easy task. It’s not. Learning to do SEO and using these tools is tedious, and it has become more tedious as time has gone by. You’ll have to have patience and perseverance to do this. After digging into this a bit you’ll understand why SEO companies charge their fees.
There are three great resources for doing SEO on your own. Each has its software tools to help you in the process. I recommend Ahrefs as the best of the three but they are reasonably equal in what they do. You’ll need to subscribe to one of the SEO tools to effectively do the job.
The cost for Ahrefs “Lite” is $99/month and SEMRush Pro is $119/month. An SEO tool is a requirement to get the results you’re after because any of your competition that’s serious about SEO is undoubtedly using one.
Each of the businesses below provides all of the resources you’ll need to learn SEO, and many of the training resources don’t require you to buy into their system. As you’ll see a single blog post could never cover the topic and you’ll need to dive deep to get the SEO skills you’ll need.
With SEO you only benefit from it once you’ve achieved a sufficient rank which can take time and substantial effort. Remember this is time and energy that could’ve been generating revenue using a quicker marketing approach. However, if you’re in the right industry or area, you might still have low-hanging fruit to pick and your time spent doing SEO may pay off well.