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With statistics showing the growing dominance of the internet, small business owners are seeking out ways to use the internet to grow their businesses. One of the first internet strategies people usually hear about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO refers to a collection of techniques that help improve the placement websites receive in search engine results pages (SERPs). Gaining a high placement in search engine results is a fantastic form of free advertising. And certainly, well-implemented SEO techniques can help any website perform better.
However, the circumstances of a particular business can impact the level of success that can be achieved with SEO, as well as the effort (and therefore the financial investment) involved to achieve results.
The above factors together indicate the amount of competition you will encounter for keywords that relate to your particular business. Keywords matter because the search engines serve up content based on the keywords people use when they enter a search query.
Competition for keywords impacts the extent of work required to improve your placement in SERPs. Less competition could mean that you can achieve gains with a modest investment. More competition means that you will need to invest more time, and generally be more patient.
For example, I spoke with a businessperson who was a plastic surgeon. She operated in a large city, Toronto. The surgeon had a large number of well-financed competitors — most of whom were already employing an SEO company to achieve results. In this case I knew the surgeon was in for a real dog fight. A more involved and longer-term SEO campaign would be required to achieve results.
Conversely, I spoke with a company about doing SEO on their site. I saw that while the company had many competitors, some of their competitors did not even have a website. Those that did were not search engine optimized. Because of that, I knew that using basic techniques, I could produce a good placement for the company.
In yet another example I had a customer who lived in a small city, and had only one significant competitor. With a basic SEO program I got my customer on page one of Google on a number of keyword combinations. Because the client operated in a small marketplace, it wasn’t necessary to apply more time-consuming tactics to produce results.
It is important to keep the above in mind when considering using the services of an SEO company. A company that wants to sell contracts may recommend a maintenance package that is more than what you need for your market conditions.
I suggest you spend some time checking out your competitive situation on Google before deciding on a course of action. What you see may help avoid over- or under-spending on SEO.
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