This might seem like an odd blog topic among the marketing experts. However, small business owners in Vancouver, Wa, and Portland, Or ask us this question over and over. The small business budgeting struggle is real! It’s unrealistic to think that we, as business owners, would have a marketing budget for everything we need all at once. More likely, we are all trying to figure out how to prioritize and optimize our marketing investment so we can maximize our return.
But that answer doesn’t really help anyone, does it? Unfortunately, many marketing experts nowadays are, in essence, salesmen. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a salesman because we believe you have to be good at sales to be a successful business owner. Every single day, we are selling our business to others. But we do have issues with the unethical and money-driven marketers out there. For them, the question often becomes: how can we make our potential clients increase their marketing budgets?
We think the question should really be: when dealing with a strict marketing budget, how do we prioritize and maximize initiatives on our client’s behalf? In our opinion, the goal isn’t to try squeezing every available penny from our clients. Instead, it really should be about respecting their comfort level for marketing related investments and designing a strategy to maximize them on their behalf.
Dos and Don’ts When Prioritizing Your Marketing Spending!
Every business is very different, so there isn’t a simple formula to figure out how to prioritize your marketing spending. But there are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to marketing strategy and budgeting.
Small Business Marketing Dos
Optimize your Google and social media listings.
Managing your social listings like Google, Yelp, and Facebook makes it easier for your customers to find you online. Now we’re not talking about extensive local SEO optimization because that does take a lot of effort and expertise to do well. What we are talking about is ensuring your basic information matches across platforms and adding simple product and service updates.
Take your Google My Business listing as an example. Simple things like updating your business info with current logos, website URLs, business hours, and more will make it easier for customers to find you. We recommend putting yourself in your customer’s shoes to find out what information they’ll need so they’ll contact your business directly from the listing. Consider addressing the main Google My Business sections, including about, services, services introductions, special events and promotions, and, of course, frequently asked questions.
Get more reviews and respond intelligently.
Reputation management is something you don’t necessarily have to outsource. Depending on your business, you can acquire customer reviews either by email blasts, text requests, or personal invitations from the staff or owners. When reviews start coming in, respond intelligently and utilize the opportunity to share more info about your business. The key here is to make sure your responses are clearly relevant to the reviewer’s comment.
Maintain a social presence on the platform that matters most to your type.
If you’re a small business owner here in Vancouver, Wa, or the Portland metro area, chances are you manage your social media posts. In our opinion, that’s totally fine as long as you have a clear social media strategy and brand guidelines to follow. Make sure that you continue posting on social media at a frequency that benefits your business the most.
Small Business Marketing Don’ts
NEVER spend money to redesign or revamp your website without an effective SEO strategy in place.
Like we mentioned before, good web design and SEO goes hand in hand. If your designer doesn’t have SEO knowledge and you don’t have the budget to at least have an SEO consultant on the project, then it’s best to wait until the money becomes available. The last thing you want is to roll out a new web design without evaluating the potential SEO impact. Changing your website could negatively impact your current rankings.
Don’t put money toward on-page SEO without a designer and content strategist on your team.
If you know your website is outdated and an SEO specialist is adamant that you can rank high without changing anything, you should proceed with caution. The end goal of SEO is conversions. You can always bring more traffic to your website, but if your website isn’t converting that traffic to paying clients, then what’s the point??
Finding a best solution to your problem is what Ichor Studios does for our clients every day. It’s important to find a marketing firm or strategist that works well with you and your team. Reach out to us if you would like to hire us on a consulting basis.
SEO & Web Design Questions Answered
Q: Should I Pay for SEO Services When I Know My Website is Outdated?
This is a really tough question because there are many different SEO focuses out there. First and foremost, we think it’s important to ensure that Google can crawl and access your website. So if you spend money on that, we believe it’s necessary and justifiable. What about content SEO? Yes, we would recommend that as well. It’s fairly easy to reuse good content when you redesign or revamp your website. So if you found a marketing firm that could generate high-quality SEO optimized content, then go for it.
There are so many different scenarios, and we can’t list them all. However, it’s critical to use your answers to the following questions as a foundational guide:
Are you fundamentally changing your website’s build?
“I am using WordPress and I plan to continue using the platform.”
In this case, the shortcut answer is yes. You can do SEO first and web design second if your budget won’t allow you to do both simultaneously.
“A developer built my current site a decade ago, and I’m thinking of switching to something completely different like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace.”
The best approach here is to hire a website designer that understands SEO to help you design your site first. Then you can build off of what they already optimized.
Q: Is SEO Still Important and Relevant?
The Forbes article, “Why SEO Still Matters In 2020,” summarized this quite well: “While some traditional marketing methods may be becoming obsolete, SEO is here to stay in 2020. Whether you invested in SEO early or are just getting started, it can still be a major driver of traffic and leads to your website.
SEO is particularly beneficial for locally-focused businesses, those looking to reach more users with their content and businesses hoping to adopt a multichannel approach. By writing content that’s tailored to your audience and optimizing your website for high-traffic keywords, you can expand your reach and boost your brand’s authority online.”
Q: Is It Worth Paying for SEO?
We get this question a lot from customers who’ve hired SEO professionals before switching to Ichor. Their experiences have been abysmal, and, sadly, aren’t abnormal in our industry.
The short answer is, it really depends. Trying to explain the value of paying for SEO is like asking whether or not medicine works.
The first question would be: does the prescribed SEO strategy address the root problem you’re trying to tackle? We can’t justify paying for the wrong treatment options.
Second: Is this SEO company a good fit with you and your team? An attitude of mutual trust between the two partners is like a good host environment – essential. If the host environment is hostile, we doubt that the partnership and results would be sustainable in the long run, even with a successful SEO strategy. At some point, the clash of company cultures would affect productivity and, therefore, results. Just like medicine, sometimes it’s not a good fit for your body even though it’s a great treatment option. Eventually your body will reject it. It’s only a matter of time.
So the key is to find a SEO team that you trust and work well with. And most importantly, they can offer effective solutions to your problem. Our SEO clients will testify that these efforts do bring results and are worth the expense when you have the right team in place.
Q: Does Website Design Affect SEO?
This question is easy: absolutely! Here are some of the main reasons to hire a good website designer:
- Great content is key. A good designer does their research to find out exactly what your potential customers are looking for on your website. When you provide useful website content, more potential customers will click on your page. Google will reward you for those clicks by placing your page higher on their search results. It only makes sense why Google would want to show the most useful results to their online users. Because Google needs users,and the more users they have, the more profit they can make.
- An inaccessible website is never good for SEO. Your designer must understand how to make it easy for Google to understand your content and structure. After all, if Google can’t even index (access) your site, it won’t know how to rank your website.
- A slow website is bad for SEO and bad for business. We don’t think this one needs much explanation. Nowadays, everyone has very little patience with slow loading websites. Google already understands this, and that’s why speed has been a major ranking factor for a long time. A good designer should know how to optimize your website to ensure fast loading time.
- Does your designer keep up with the Google SEO algorithm updates? Use mobile-first indexing as an example; Google states: “Make sure that your mobile site contains the same content as your desktop site. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent to your desktop site. Almost all indexing on your site comes from the mobile site.” Imagine if your designer didn’t know about this and didn’t include essential business content on the mobile version of the website? A good designer will make sure to incorporate SEO trends when it comes to design.
We can go on and on, but by now, we have made a good case that website design absolutely affects your SEO.
Q: Can I Do My Own SEO?
Yes, but it takes a lot of time and effort to learn it well. If you’re simply trying to save money by doing the work yourself, it’s best to avoid it. You’d be better off focusing on what you’re passionate about, which is building and growing your business. However, if you’re the type of business owner with a true passion for SEO and really wants to do it on your own, here are some excellent resources to gain more SEO knowledge.
- SEO: https://academy.moz.com/ or https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
- SEMRush Academy: https://www.semrush.com/academy/
- Google SEO Guideline: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7451184#
There are a ton of other SEO blogs you can follow. But we think these three resources can help you build a solid foundation. Once the foundation is there, you can pick and choose the best blogs that you want to follow.
Q: What’s The Best Tip for Business Owners Who Care About SEO and Rankings?
It’s important to remember that there are no shortcuts in understanding how the SEO world works. Following Google’s guidelines and keeping your users’ best interests at heart is the most important thing to remember if you want to succeed and rank high. Do not conduct SEO practices solely to improve your SEO rankings without adding value for your users. You might get away with those practices for a while, but Google’s algorithm changes will eventually catch up.
Q: I See That You Don’t Offer Pay-Per-Click Services. Does That Mean You Don’t Believe in Advertising?
The advertising industry is huge and very liquidative for a lot of marketing firms. SEO is more fundamentally in line with what Ichor Studios believe in: a sustainable and natural strategy. We choose to offer SEO over PPC simply because SEO is a better fit for us. We really enjoy bringing continued results for our clients through an organic and holistic approach.
PPC has its own place and is very important in certain stages of business growth. Freakonomics released very interesting data about whether or not advertisements work as well as we think that they do in their two-part podcast series called “Does Advertising Actually Work?”
We believe that pay-per-click advertising can still benefit local small businesses, especially when trying to build brand recognition or release a new product to a different market segment. But it’s also important to explore other marketing venues like social media marketing or influencer marketing.
Advertising requires a lot of time, effort, and a big budget. Plus, campaign effectiveness can stop once the funds run out.
What’s the Verdict?
Both website design and SEO are crucial and codependent. A well-designed website means that it follows good SEO practices. An effective SEO strategy focuses on website design that emphasizes good content and usability. There isn’t a shortcut or quick formula which reveals the process that will bring the most return and growth for your business. Instead, to maximize your marketing investment return, hire a trustworthy expert who will focus on the most effective ways to allocate your available budget.
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