Is SEO Worth It for Small Businesses?

Almost certainly not, and this includes startups that aim big too.

Many would disagree, though I can’t help but see incentive-caused bias.

Are there exceptions? Yes, but they’re rare.

SEO will help any site get more organic traffic. However, you need to consider opportunity cost. Small businesses often don’t have enough assets for SEO to improve nor enough reach.

Here are qualities that make a business likely to find SEO value:

  • Are at least midsize. This encapsulates more than several requirements. You need a digital marketing team with web developers/designers, content writers & more. Your business also must have enough impact as a solution to address non-branded search demand.
  • Achieved some organic results incidentally. This may seem to invalidate the need for SEO in the first place. However, a good business by definition has filled some niche in the market, developing unique advantages over competitors. They have some clout. SEO is about capitalizing on this, reflecting the real world online.
  • Have many past & active marketing campaigns. SEO needs fuel in the form of content & links. SEOs don’t create themselves, or at least they shouldn’t because they have no real skills here. Nonetheless, SEO should be able to drive some decisions here though.
  • Don’t need quick, certain results: SEO will never save a business and should never be the big investment. SEO takes time, often at least months to see positive ROI. While SEO forecasting exists, it’s notoriously inaccurate, fraught with countless assumptions. However, once you offset the cost of improving SEO via consultancy, agency or in-house, the ROI can be tremendous. This also means the willingness to build tools & other functionality for pure marketing purposes that fulfill search intent.
  • Lacks much corporate red tape. SEO gets a death sentence when changes take forever to implement. SEO is opportunistic & tactical at its core. Enterprises face challenges here, despite ranking among the businesses most likely to benefit from SEO, even with high brand awareness.

Before this all seems to sell SEO short, remember that organic search is still, by far, the largest marketing channel available! Even small improvement here is very noticeable, and best practices make it so.

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