Does SEO Marketing Work For Small Businesses?

Small business owner asking a marketing expert, “Does SEO marketing work?”

If you’re a small business owner, I’m sure you’ve heard about or researched all kinds of marketing strategies. And every expert will tell you that their marketing strategy is the one you should be using. All this information leaves you trying to figure out for yourself which marketing strategy or strategies will work for you. This post will help you answer the question, “Does SEO marketing work for small businesses?” and more specifically, your small business.

As a content marketing strategist, my simple answer to this question is “YES!”

However, that doesn’t mean the answer is “YES!” or even “yes” for you and your business. There’s a lot to understand before it’s possible to know whether SEO marketing will work for your business.

So, to help you figure out whether you should pursue SEO marketing, here are 5 critical questions to consider.

  1. Do you have a viable business?

    This is an important question to deeply consider. You may think that your business should be successful, yet unless you have the market research to validate your opinion it’s just an opinion.

    You’ll also want to look at things like how you run your business, how you interact with your clients/customers, how your prices compare to your competitors, how your business is unique, etc.

    You’ll have an easier time implementing SEO marketing if you have a well-defined business. Although, it isn’t required.

    Years ago I worked for an agency that sold SEO marketing to solopreneurs. My job was to develop SEO marketing strategies for the people who bought the programs.

    I can’t tell you how many times the people I worked with really didn’t have any idea of what their business was all about. Now, don’t get me wrong. These were amazing, intelligent, and great people! They just hadn’t put in the effort to truly know whether their business was feasible or not.

    So one of the first tasks I worked on with clients in this situation was basic keyword research (the foundation of all SEO marketing) to see if I could help them better define their business. Sometimes this was straightforward and other times it required a repositioning of their basic business idea to be more appealing to their ideal clients/customers.

    You’re probably wondering, “Is this all there is to market research?” And it positively isn’t. All doing a little keyword research begins to do is let you know if people are Googling for what you plan to offer or are already offering.

    For any small business to be viable it needs to serve a particular need of a particular group of people. And the newer the business is, the tighter this group of people needs to be.

    Here’s an example to better illustrate this point. When I was working at the agency, one of my clients was a therapist who had been in practice for more than 20 years. She wanted to expand her practice to include coaching.

    When I asked her who she wanted to coach, she said anyone with this particular challenge. Unfortunately, this particular challenge is something that 99.9% of the population struggles with. In essence, she was telling me that she wanted to work with anyone and everyone.

    This just wouldn’t work for a new business. So, I worked with her to narrow her focus to a particular segment of the population she most enjoyed working with. And with that little adjustment, we were able to create an SEO marketing strategy that worked for her.

  2. Are you willing to invest in the creation of a strategy that supports where your business is today and lays the foundation for where you want it to grow?

    For an SEO marketing strategy to work well, it needs to lay the groundwork for where you are currently planning to grow your business in the next 3-5 years. Once you do that all of the content you create NOW will still be relevant for your business at least 3-5 years from now. And it will allow future content to seem consistent with the direction originally set by the SEO marketing strategy.

    This is important because SEO is a long-term play. It’s not something that will bring customers and clients to your door today. Yet once it really kicks in, it’s like trying to change the direction a battleship is moving if you want to change the direction of your SEO. So careful planning at the beginning is critical.

    (I’ll explain more about how content plays a role in SEO in question 4.)

  3. Will you implement the strategy?

    It might seem obvious that you have to implement the SEO marketing strategy for SEO to work. However, I’ve worked with many people over the years who asked me to create their strategy but never implemented it.

    So, you need to know that implementing an SEO marketing strategy like the ones I create for my clients will require that the main pages on your website are edited. Each page needs to support the strategy. Although this can seem overwhelming at first, if you make the changes (or have someone else make the changes) systematically it is fairly easy to accomplish.

  4. Are you willing to consistently create content?

    Persistent and consistent creation of quality website content that’s in line with your SEO marketing strategy is critical for success with SEO. If you’re not willing to create new pages and or blog posts for your website, then SEO marketing won’t work for your small business – at least not right now.

    When I first learned about SEO marketing, I jumped in with both feet. I was writing and posting about 2 articles a week for 18 months. My website traffic grew from basically nothing to 1,000 visitors a day!

    It was amazing to see the increase in not only the traffic to the site but also in gross revenue.

    However, writing and creating 2 blog posts a week isn’t necessary for success with SEO marketing. Persistent and consistent content creation needs to be something you can support. If it’s once a week or once a month, you’ll still eventually reap the benefits of SEO marketing. Just keep in mind that the more frequently you or someone else does create and publish new content on your site, the more quickly you’ll see results from your SEO marketing.

    (You might want to read this 5 Easy Tips For Writing Interesting Blogs About Your Business.)

  5. How can you stay the course?

    SEO marketing will work for your small business as long as you stick with it.

    As I already mentioned, when I was writing and posting 2 articles a week to my website, the website traffic and my revenue grew. However, I was offering a 1-on-1 service to my clients.

    I became so busy with my new clients that I took some time off from posting blogs. And, although it didn’t happen quickly (remember my comment about turning a battleship) the effectiveness of my SEO decreased by about 50% over the next year.

    However, if I had had a plan in place for how I was going to support the expansion of my business while continuing to make sure someone was creating and publishing content to the website, I wouldn’t have lost the momentum of the SEO marketing on that website.

So, now that you’ve seen the 5 questions, it’s time to think deeply about whether or not you’re willing to invest in SEO marketing to grow your business.

I know that it can work wonders for small businesses. However, that doesn’t mean SEO marketing is right for your’s – at least right now.

Would you like to more deeply explore if SEO marketing is an appropriate choice for your business? Schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs with one of the KJ Content Marketing experts.


Karen Finn, PhD