Thomas asks, “Is SEO still accessible to small businesses?”
SEO is a high knowledge discipline. That knowledge is largely free, though some of the tools are not. However, it’s not something that’s both high knowledge and high cost, like search engine marketing (SEM) is. SEO requires three kinds of knowledge: domain expertise, audience knowledge, and technical knowledge.
Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.
Listen to the audio here:
- Got a question for You Ask, I’ll Answer? Submit it here!
- Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more useful marketing tips.
- Find older episodes of You Ask, I Answer on my YouTube channel.
- Need help with your company’s data and analytics? Let me know!
- Join my free Slack group for marketers interested in analytics!
What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.
In today’s episode, Thomas asks, Is SEO still accessible to small businesses? It’s a good question because the perception, mostly accurate in digital marketing is that everything requires more budget and more resources to get results.
Organic social media, for example, gets little to no results for many companies.
And so it’s become very much a pay to play environment.
The channels that still don’t require a ton of money, things like email, and things like SEO, SEO is accessible to small businesses, in that it does not require a huge amount of money.
It is a high knowledge discipline.
The knowledge to make SEO work is largely free, it requires a lot of time to research.
And most of the, the tools and SEO are either free or very affordable.
Certainly for the average small business shelling out, you know, 99 bucks a month for one SEO tool is not completely unreasonable.
And again, there are many, many tools that are totally free of cost.
They’re not as good, you get what you pay for.
But they’re not bad.
They’re not so bad, they’re inaccessible, they don’t deliver results.
The challenge with SEO is that the knowledge required to make it work is branches over more than one thing a lot of people think SEO is all about, you know, keywords and optimization and learning search engine tricks.
And that’s actually not entirely true.
Seo has three branches of knowledge that you need in order to make it work.
The first branch is the one that people think of the most is the technical knowledge, what do you need to know about search algorithms, and how search engines work, and all the different technical aspects of your website, you know, all your core web vitals and your largest contentful, paint all of the stuff like server optimization and PageSpeed and caching and yes, that is a fairly hefty chunk of SEO, you do need to know the technical aspects and the technical aspects can actually be broken down into like server level page level thing, and all that stuff.
So there is a decent amount of technical knowledge that you need.
But again, that knowledge is not necessarily expensive to obtain, at least in terms of, of money cost, it is expensive to obtain in terms of time cost, you do have to do things like you know, read search engine, Landon’s and Search Engine Journal and all these other companies that publish really good information that you have to stay current on alita solace is E newsletter, SEO FOMO is an excellent one, I would recommend anybody interested in SEO, read that newsletter comes out I think, a couple times a week.
And it’s to wrap up a really good digest of the stuff that’s happened in the search engine world.
So that’s the first kind of knowledge you need.
The second kind of knowledge you need is domain expertise, your business and your, your niche, whatever it is, is going to have a lot of stuff in it a lot of knowledge that you need, that will inform your content strategy, and your overall marketing strategy.
And that should be reflected in your SEO.
For example, if you are a coffee shop, and you only know how to make like drip coffee, then you’re not going to be creating content about things like say espresso, right, which topically semantically is strongly related to coffee.
And so having wide domain expertise, thorough domain expertise in your business is essential to understand all the different things that are associated with what you have to sell, and the ways in which people will probably search for them.
The big thing here is in understanding the demand cycle.
So a lot of folks with SEO tend to take the very shallow approach either branded, you know, people searching for, say Trust Insights, right, my company or searching for marketing, analytics consulting, right, the very obvious types of demand and those are certainly things that I want to optimize my website for.
But then there’s a bunch of things that are next to that, right that are indicative of a problem, but not necessarily somebody looking for analytics consulting, somebody looking for like how do I set up channel groupings in Google Analytics right that is something that if you have good domain expertise, you know is a thing you know, is a problem.
It is not a problem that is directly related to the words you know marketing analytics.
But absolutely is relevant and part of the discipline.
So having that domain expertise to know what are all the things that are adjacent to your core business, and which of them are going to drive business to you.
And the third knowledge is audience knowledge.
knowing who your audience is, and how they search is really critical.
If you don’t know how the audience behaves, if you don’t know what they’re likely to type into a search engine, or ask a smart assistant sitting on the desk or talking to their phone, it’s going to be very hard to optimize.
And so this requires knowledge not only of your domain, but it requires knowledge of things like linguistics, understanding how people use language, somebody who is sitting at their desktop is probably going to type in, you know, analytics consulting, right, very short, terse keyword, somebody talking into the phone, it’s going to say, hey, Google, where’s the nearest coffee shop? To me? That’s open right now.
Right? And so you’re optimizing for very different things in those cases.
But you can see how knowing your audience knowing how they search, knowing what they search on, and knowing how those devices change, their behavior is essential.
And this is why SEO is a high knowledge discipline.
Is it inaccessible to small businesses? from a financial perspective, no, from a knowledge perspective, the answer is maybe because as every small business owner knows, you only have so many hours in the day.
Do you have the ability to, if you’re a sole proprietor become an SEO expert? Realistically, maybe it depends on on how much sleep you need.
If you are a small business, you know two or three or four, or anything out of 10 people, but yes, it is then possible to potentially add that in or bring in a contract or an agency or something to help you out with it.
So it is still somewhat accessible, is it as easy as it used to be? No, same as with social media marketing, social media marketing used to be very straightforward, you go out there, you’re talking about stuff, you interact with people and and you reap the results of that effort.
It’s substantially harder now, because of the way the AI algorithms behind social media networks function, you have to have I’m not getting as another high knowledge case.
So I would say it’s moderately accessible.
I think, for sole proprietors, it can be very difficult.
For a small business with no less than 10 employees, it is accessible, if you have the ability to have to task one of your employees to become an SEO expert if if they have that aptitude, and if not, there are certainly a decent number of agencies out there some good some not so good.
But that is that is more accessible and more realistic.
Are you going to build the next big thing and become a billion dollar company overnight? Absolutely not not with SEO.
It is possible to build a business on it.
But it is also very risky.
Be very careful about putting all your eggs in one basket, particularly with search algorithms because you may be in favor today.
It may be out of favor tomorrow and can lose a substantial part of your business overnight literally, and is not under your control.
So it’s a good question.
Small businesses should absolutely be part of their marketing mix, but they should not bet the entire farm on it.
If your follow up questions, leave in the comments box below.
Subscribe to the YouTube channel.
In the newsletter, I’ll talk to you soon take care want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems.
This is Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you
You might also enjoy:
- Understand the Meaning of Metrics
- The Biggest Mistake in Marketing Data
- Best Practices for Public Speaking Pages
- How To Set Your Consulting Billing Rates and Fees
- It's Okay to Not Be Okay Right Now
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:
Get your copy of AI For Marketers