Being a small business is hard. Especially now, with the impact COVID-19 has on businesses worldwide. It’s become even more important for businesses to have an online presence in order to stay connected with customers, and suppliers alike.
Having an online presence means you have a web site, blog, or online store or at the very least be on social media. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you get free traffic from search engines, as online users search for information that they need.
We spoke with sister Iman Hamdan, SEO specialist working at Yahoo Small Business, to get her advice on how small businesses can leverage on SEO to boost their businesses.
SEO vs. Social Media Marketing
However, before we dive deeper into SEO, let’s look into the difference between SEO and social media marketing.
Simply put, SEO is about your website, blog, or online store showing up in Google search results for your audience’s search queries.
Social media marketing is about creating brand awareness by building relationships and engaging with your audience on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
How Can Small Businesses Start With SEO?
According to sister Iman, “All SMBs [small, medium businesses] want to have businesses online and to establish an online presence.”
“SEO is used in order for businesses to rank well, and seen by their customers. Choose the right company to help you.”
“Sometimes SMBs don’t know where to start, what kind of content they need, what kind of pages to build. [Before that], they need to buy that domain name, web hosting, They can do it themselves, or ask someone to do it for them. “
She also explained that Yahoo Small Business has products small businesses need to establish an online presence and stay connected to their customers. This includes domain name, hosting, and an advisor to consult with as support.
How Iman Started In SEO
Iman Hamdan started many years ago with web development, as her education was in software engineering. With web development, she started programming and web design. However, she did not find the work challenging enough for her as the programming was repetitive in nature.
She started updating websites that she had developed, from a technical standpoint. Particularly, on how to rank for a particular keyword, and her journey into SEO started from there. She has more than ten years of SEO experience.
Sister Iman is a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, living in the US, working for Yahoo Small Business. She is married with two young children.
How Can Small Businesses Improve SEO?
For small businesses that do not have the budgets to hire SEO experts, as they can get expensive, Iman Hamdan has advice for these companies.
“There are a lot of online communities that can help them through. It’s also best to follow Google Webmaster.”
“In the beginning, you will struggle. However, just look into the requirements, guidelines of a search engine, especially Google.” Other aspects to look into, include:
- Pages must have high quality and relevant content to users
- Fast and easy to access on all devices, including mobile devices
- Website is secured
- Website is structured properly, with a site map
Do You Need Technical Skills To Do SEO?
“For SMBs, you don’t really need technical skills. Just follow the basic steps.”
“But you do need somebody to execute those things.”
For Small Businesses With A Budget To Hire External SEO Experts
Iman’s advice is that SEO is a long-term strategy, and businesses should not expect immediate results. “SEO takes more than a month. SEO is a long term process. It takes a while. Whereas paid ads, it can be instant. “
“You need to publish your website pages first, submit it to Google for indexing. SEO takes a while, anywhere from 3-6 months, for your website to be indexed. “
How Can A Company Measure Their SEO Success?
“Focus on relevant keywords, compare with competitors and the performance for non-branding keywords.”
“For example, for a cleaning company. Establish the right content, right title and description, and relevant keywords to rank for. “
“In terms of web page positions, where they rank, and how much traffic they bring. “
“To measure revenue success for SEO, its a little more complicated. There are many factors to consider, such as, are satisfying your customers with your content?”
Ultimately, she concluded that SEO is only best measured in terms of ranking of web pages by relevant keywords, rather than directly in terms of revenue it brings.
Is SEO Important?
Consider some of these statistics:
- 75% of consumers search online before they purchase a product at a retail outlet
- 58% of shoppers use online shopping
- Searchers for “available near me” for shoppers who want to shop in local shops increased by 100% this year
- There are at least 3.5 billion Google searches per day
- (sources: Google, Internet Live Stats)
Regardless of the time it takes to produce the results from SEO, the sheer size of these statistics, it’s hard to ignore the importance for businesses to have an online presence, and be found online via search engines.
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.