Why SEO is important for entrepreneurs.

Seven very compelling reasons.

When I started my first business at the age of 21, SEO didn’t exist. Or if it did, it certainly wasn’t something entrepreneurs worried about. The pace of business was slower, you waited for contracts to arrive by post, and if you needed to meet with someone in the US, you had to fly there. Now, everything is virtual, immediate, hyperactive, and demanding. Like many entrepreneurs, I’ve had to learn to adapt the way I do business.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about SEO and why you can’t afford to ignore it:

1. SEO is not a fad

When you don’t fully understand something, it often feels like the easiest thing to do is ignore it. Hope that when the craze settles, it will disappear and you can continue as normal. Whilst there’s been some debate around whether SEO is dead, the truth is that whilst the nature of it might be changing, it’s still very relevant to business.

Joshua Guerra, CEO of marketing firm BIZCOR commented in Forbes: “As long as you are focusing on optimal user experience while performing methodic SEO strategies, you will be rewarded with higher positioning and organic traffic.” And it’s unlikely that SEO will cease to be effective any time soon, because search engines depend on users typing in keywords. As long as keywords exist, SEO exists.

2. It’s way easier than you think

You don’t have to understand Google’s ridiculously complex algorithms to create a successful SEO strategy. In fact, often the simplest strategies are the most effective because you’re aiming at the masses (the majority of which are not technological geniuses), who just want to be able to search a simple term and receive appropriate, relevant and valuable results. So on the most basic level, all you need to do is regularly publish good quality and authoritative content that appeals to your audience, and contains keywords that people will be searching.

It helps to have quality inbound links pointing to your site too, but even that’s fairly easy as you can put links to your site in guest blogs, forum comments and interviews with external publications. They need to be relevant to the topic of course, but as entrepreneurs tend to link most conversations back to their business, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

3. It could save you money and stress

Compared to online advertising, email marketing or even social media marketing, SEO is a cost-effective way of promoting your brand and generating leads. Even if you have to hire a specialist, costs are relatively low as SEO experts aren’t usually required to work in-house so you don’t have to pay for their office space, HR, obligatory national insurance contributions, software licenses and all the other extras that pile on top of a permanent employee’s salary. You pay them by the hour or in a fixed monthly rate, and they take care of your business’s SEO plan whilst you can concentrate on the strategical development of your company.

4. We’re all at the mercy of a restless generation

Our lives operate at a much faster rate than they used to. Communication is constant and immediate and the demands on our time are endlessly increasing. Unsurprisingly then, we’ve become a restless generation who can’t afford to waste their time searching for the best company to use, and testing out different services. Most people will go for the top rated on Google because it’s easier and faster.

In Forbes, Steve Olenski wrote that “Somewhere between 80-90% of customers now check online reviews prior to making a purchase, and this number is only expected to increase.” In other words, if you’re not immediately visible online, your customers won’t find you.

5. It can be a good indicator of growth

When you start a new business, it’s sometimes difficult to monitor how well it’s being received and even harder to make convincing predictions to potential investors. However, organic traffic increases can be a really effective indicator of future growth. The better the idea, service or product, the faster the news spreads on social media and on external sites, which means more inbound links to your business, brand mentions and even hashtags on Twitter, resulting in a better search ranking. It’s a good way of demonstrating success to investors in the early stages and can also help entrepreneurs to see trends so that they can develop their business in the future.

6. Your competitors use SEO

If your competitor jumped off a cliff, would you do it? If it was going to drive more organic traffic to my business, potentially increase sales, and boost my reputation, then yes I’d do it. If you’re not doing everything you can to promote and develop your brand, you’ll quickly fall behind your competitors and right now, SEO is one of the most basic and valuable tools we have for online marketing so use it and not just for your business, but to promote yourself too. As an entrepreneur (especially if you own multiple businesses), your public reputation is crucial. If people like you and respect your opinion, they’re more likely to trust what you’re selling. It pays to get your name out there.

7. It could open doors to new opportunities

The more people that see you online, the more opportunities you have for potential partnerships and building valuable business connections. It’s a bit like networking without you having to attend any events or meetings. Other CEOs and businesses will be attracted to your online credibility and will want to be associated with your business, which could lead to some exciting discussions, innovations and maybe even a new business idea.

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