About this sponsored content
This content has been sponsored by Helio Digital and is part of the Small Business series. This series aims to help educate businesses on the ways of digital whether it’s marketing, design or technology. Diginauts is a sub-brand of Helio Digital.
SEO is often pegged in the ‘earned media’ category of marketing. It’s a rewarding activity if done right, and for the most part, is a relatively free way of generating traffic and finding out-of-market audiences. But as the category suggests, it has to be earned.
SEO is the process of increasing the visibility and traffic to your website by various methods such as content writing, keyword research, and link building which all improve your rank on search engines. SEO is a worthwhile investment that provides an impressive return on investment (ROI) as it creates long-term value for your business’ website that will continue to accrue over time. SEO is becoming more important for businesses as more people are researching on the go, therefore, they can search for things at the exact time they need them and make a purchase. Higher search engine rankings will give your business credibility and also help to drive sales once someone clicks through to your site.
We want to unpack 5 key factors to look at when deciding whether SEO is worth your effort to help you answer this question for your business. These factors will look at SEO holistically, and not just technical SEO (which we believe every business should be doing).
Technical SEO forms the foundation of your SEO strategy. It refers to improving the technical aspects of a website so that its pages rank higher on search engines. It helps your website get crawled and makes it understandable by search engines, which helps drive more traffic and keep users there for longer. It’s important to optimize your website to be functional, fast, and user-friendly to ensure its success.
Implementing a proper SEO strategy goes beyond just owning your technology. You need the ability to exert a lot of influence on your website whether it’s the ability to edit templates or make server changes to improve speed.
Large organisations can struggle with this as web technology is often owned by IT departments. Similarly smaller businesses might lack the skill or budget to implement large scale changes on their website, often relying on third parties that don’t understand or care about SEO. If your business is planning to pursue SEO it’s likely you’ll start with the technical side of things, so make sure you have the ability to implement suggestions from your agency.
Considering your niche
A niche quite simply is an area of specialisation within your sector or industry. A niche is usually a deep specialisation, in other words, it’s not a broad category like furniture but rather a specialist skillset like furniture for hospitals.
Understanding your niche is not only an important part of business strategy, but it also impacts how you make decisions on activities like marketing. Understanding your competitors in the context of SEO is key to finding opportunities for growth. Saturated niches are harder to break into and will require you to spend more time and resources (more on that later).
SEO niches can also fall into 2 categories; gray and white. Some niches like pharmaceuticals, music, adult sites, and casinos are considered gray niches where the competition is generally unfair and websites often get delisted or worse, blacklisted. Google’s algorithms for these niches change also rapidly and you need to therefor adapt and rebuild your reputation strategies quickly. White niches on the other hand represent a business vertical with a clear USP, a good marketing strategy, and many different ways to attract traffic. Promotion in this niche is more stable but does require more energy and investment.
Audience size is also something that could impact your decision to take on SEO. Small niches are generally easier to rank for because there’s less competition, while saturated niches offer better rewards. With that said, ranking on Google is only useful if people are actually searching for the keywords you rank for, so it comes down to finding a balance.
Choosing the best niches for SEO can be difficult. Just do your research, study your target audience and competitors, and experiment when you can.
At some point while doing SEO campaigns as an organisation you might decide to tackle SEO yourself. An experienced SEO team is key to leading an effective SEO program. This team needs to be adaptive as search engines change, creative as content consumption increases, and tech savvy to understand technical SEO.
Agency fees can add up quickly which makes in-sourcing especially attractive to businesses. SEO skills are not hard to learn and websites like Udemy are especially helpful in helping businesses grow their in-house teams.
There are a few things to consider when building your own SEO team:
- SEO is not a part-time job. We often see SEO tagged onto digital or web teams as a nice-to-have, but it’s critical that you give your staff enough time to focus on activities.
- SEO is constantly changing, which is why your team needs to keep their skills up to date. Encourage them to follow the news and do courses regularly (especially from Google).
- You likely already have a content team in place. Upskilling them to understand the basics of SEO, especially how keywords work, will help reduce unnecessary back and forth with your core team.
- Your technical teams need to care enough about SEO to apply SEO practices. Teach them the basics of technical SEO and ensure that you include it in your scope of work when you make website changes.
Integrated digital strategy
SEO’s key elements (keywords, content, local SEO, and off-page SEO) are crucial in enabling your existing digital marketing strategy. It helps drive qualified customers to your business via online platforms, as organic search often has much higher user intent. Your SEO strategy needs to compliment your other activities (such as paid advertising) to avoid unnecessary expenditure and a seamless user journey.
If your business does not have a digital marketing strategy in place, or at least a very clear understanding of your customer, then it might be quite difficult to effectively utilise SEO to drive growth. With that said, there are still the bare-necessities like technical SEO that could have short-term impact by lifting your brand above competitors.
Your budget and the cost of SEO
In your decision-making process, budget will inevitably play a significant role. There is no standard budget or cost when it comes to SEO because every business has unique requirements.
However, planning your budget according to your priorities, business revenue, and evaluating your SEO goals is key to seeing a positive ROI and avoiding wastage. Before planning an SEO budget it’s important to know that SEO is a long-term strategy that is not cheap. It can take up to a year to see satisfying results.
With that said, there is still a lot of opportunity for businesses to grow their organic traffic at a relatively low cost depending on your niche. Competing for rank within your local area (I.e country or city) is for example still a viable option for many businesses instead I’d the crowded international stage.
Technical SEO could also be a n affordable quick win. Tools like RankMath provide easy to use tools for keyword analysis and technical SEO on WordPress websites. Google Search Console is another great free tool and many professionals might even say it’s all they need to run successful campaigns.
By looking at your digital marketing budget as a whole, you can determine what percentage you should dedicate to SEO. As an example, if your current overall digital marketing budget is split as 30% Google ads, 20% email, 10% organic traffic (SEO), 20% social media ads (Facebook, Instagram), and 20% referral traffic, you can decrease the percentage of those that are currently generating less ROI or those that will generate more organic traffic in the long-run. Now your budget will be; 20% Google ads (since SEO will generate more organic traffic than ads), 20% social media ads, 10% referral traffic, 10% email, and 30% organic traffic (SEO).
Choosing an SEO partner
The last thing you’ll want to consider is finding a partner to help you execute on your SEO objectives.
At Helio Digital our SEO team has years of experience in technology, marketing and design. We like to work with businesses of all sizes to meet their SEO objectives, whether it’s to improve sales, increase news visibility or just deal with gaps in technical SEO. We offer free quotes and encourage you to reach out below if you have any questions for our team of experts.
Your Partner In Digital
We are a small digital consultancy with a strong implementation team across digital marketing, technology and design.
SEO doesn’t have to be a stressful marketing activity. Ensuring you have the right people in place with a willingness to learn is often all you need to get started. Diginauts also offers a lot of useful free resources on SEO and other marketing related topics and our team is always willing to help those that reach out. Good luck on your SEO journey, and remember, you don’t want to be the body hidden on page two of Google!
Common SEO questions asked by small businesses
Some questions from our clients
How much does SEO cost?
This is tough to answer as it really depends on your needs, but as a general rule of thumb know that SEO usually requires a substantial investment if you are looking at it long term.
Technical SEO is usually not too expensive and most of the cost comes down to how easy it is for your team to implement changes. There are plenty of free tools for scanning your website and this will often result in actionable insights. This can range from $500 – $1000 depending on the scope of work. This is generally also a once-off cost.
A backlink and content-based SEO strategy is where you will need a lot more investment. This is often a monthly cost and requires a resource investment from your business, or a steep monthly retainer with a good agency.
I don't have a marketing strategy, is SEO still worthwhile?
Totally, taking the time to fix technical issues can have a big impact on your brand’s visibility on Google. You want your business to come up in search results when a potential customer searches for your business name.
Coming up with a content-based SEO strategy is also not impossible without a marketing strategy but be prepared to pay more as a lot of legwork needs to be done by your SEO partner.