Is SEO Worth It for Small Business?

George Rossoshansky
SEO Expert, Team Leader, Rush Academy Speaker George Rossoshansky

Absolutely, SEO is a game-changer for small businesses. Think of it as a blend of art and science that boosts your website’s appeal to search engines such as Google. The goal? To naturally attract more visitors to your site and turn them into customers. But there’s still some doubt about its effectiveness, right? This usually stems from misunderstandings and not fully grasping what SEO can do. Let’s dive into the real essence of SEO and clear up some of those myths that make people question its value for small businesses.

Core Benefits of Investing in SEO

Small businesses, take note: investing in SEO is a smart strategy with a host of benefits. It’s fantastic at pulling in customers by boosting your online presence and matching up with what they’re searching for. Plus, SEO is key in building trust – the higher you rank in search results, the more credible you look to potential customers. And let’s not forget about the steady flow of ‘free’ organic traffic it brings, which is a nice change from the constant expense of paid ads. Most crucially, the SEO benefits include long-term gains, laying a solid foundation for your business to grow and stay ahead in the online world.

Attract Targeted Visitors

A major advantage of SEO is its ability to bring targeted visitors directly to your website. When you craft helpful content that aligns with your audience’s search intent, you’re not just catching random web browsers; you’re attracting potential customers who are actively searching for what you provide. This is where understanding search intent is critical. By meeting the specific needs or addressing the questions your prospects have, your content is more likely to rank well in search results, putting you in touch with motivated buyers. 

Also, SEO isn’t limited to a global audience. Local SEO is incredibly important for small businesses aiming at a local market. By optimizing your content for local searches, you make sure your business is visible to potential customers in your area who are searching for your products or services. This targeted strategy is far more effective than just drawing in general web traffic, as it connects you with users who are likely to convert, given their interest and closeness to your business.

Build Credibility and Brand Awareness

SEO is a potent asset for small businesses aiming to enhance their credibility and boost brand visibility. In a digital landscape where smaller brands often begin with minimal recognition, the regular creation of top-notch content can be a real game-changer. This method does more than increase brand visibility; it sets your business up as a respected authority in your niche. 

When potential customers consistently encounter your brand in top search results, it builds trust and credibility. This aspect is particularly crucial for smaller businesses competing against bigger names. By providing content that’s both valuable and relevant, addressing your audience’s needs and queries, you’re effectively nurturing leads. This nurturing process is key as it keeps your brand top-of-mind for potential customers, slowly but surely building a bond with them. Over time, this steady presence and reliability transform leads into loyal customers, solidifying your brand’s standing in the marketplace.

Ultimately, SEO is not just about driving traffic; it plays an essential role in establishing a trustworthy brand that connects with and retains its customer base.

Achieve Free Incremental Traffic

One of the best perks of SEO is its ability to generate ‘free traffic’ continuously, unlike the fleeting boost you get from paid ads. This constant stream of visitors is primarily due to evergreen content, which remains relevant and valuable for the long term. Unlike ads, which lose their pulling power once the campaign ends, a well-optimized piece of content can attract visitors for years. Even better, you can maximize the value of this evergreen content by updating it periodically, ensuring it maintains or regains its rankings and stays current with new search trends. This traffic-generating strategy is not only cost-effective in the long run but also guarantees a consistent influx of potential customers discovering your business.

Deliver Lasting Returns and Future-Proof Business

SEO is more than just a marketing tactic; it’s a smart investment in making your business future-proof. While ad campaigns are fleeting, SEO provides a sustainable growth model, offering long-term ROI. Its lasting value lies in its ability to continuously bring free users to your site, well beyond any single campaign’s duration. The secret is in developing and maintaining evergreen content, which stays relevant and keeps driving traffic over time. 

By regularly updating this content, small businesses can stay on top of changing search algorithms and consumer trends, effectively future-proofing their online presence. This ongoing effort not only preserves current rankings but also creates new opportunities for additional ROI as the content continues to attract new users. In short, SEO gives small businesses the means to adapt, expand, and succeed in the constantly changing digital world.

Optimize Website Design and Content

A crucial aspect of SEO that often goes underappreciated is the optimization of website design and content, which plays a significant role in enhancing user experience (UX) and content effectiveness. UX analysis is more than just a technical audit; it’s about understanding how visitors interact with your site and making strategic improvements to facilitate a smoother, more engaging journey. This includes refining site navigation, optimizing page layouts, and ensuring that your website is intuitively structured. 

Such enhancements are vital for not just attracting visitors but also converting them into customers.

In parallel, developing an intentional blogging strategy is key to building your brand’s authority and relevance in your industry. This involves creating a content calendar centered around topics that are not only relevant to your target audience but also reflective of your expertise. By focusing on targeted topics, your blog becomes a hub of valuable information, attracting and retaining a dedicated readership.

Moreover, each page on your website, from blog posts to product descriptions, should be carefully optimized to directly address the questions and needs of your customers. This means crafting helpful content that provides clear answers and solutions, thereby establishing your site as a reliable resource. This approach not only improves your search engine rankings but also enhances the overall user experience, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

In essence, optimizing your website design and content is a multifaceted process that involves a deep understanding of both your audience and SEO best practices. 

By focusing on UX improvements and a strategic blogging approach, you can create a website that not only ranks well but also resonates with and converts your target audience, setting a solid foundation for long-term business growth.

Enhance Local Presence

For small businesses targeting their local community, local SEO is a game-changer. Implementing local SEO tactics can significantly increase your visibility to a nearby audience. 

The first step is having an optimized Google Business Profile. This is key for popping up in local search results and on Google Maps. Keeping your profile updated with correct business info, photos, and recent news helps local customers easily find and choose your business. Also, showing up in local map searches is vital for attracting foot traffic, particularly for businesses depending on local patrons. 

You can enhance this visibility by optimizing for location-based keywords and ensuring your business is listed in relevant local directories. Managing customer reviews is another crucial element of local SEO. Positive reviews boost your credibility and search rankings. Actively inviting satisfied customers to leave reviews and thoughtfully responding to them can greatly strengthen your local SEO efforts, resulting in more local engagement and building customer trust.

Supplement with PR Efforts

For small businesses keen on boosting their SEO, weaving in public relations (PR) can be a real game-changer. 

Getting PR placements in industry-relevant publications does wonders for your visibility and adds a layer of credibility to your brand. These placements often lead to high-quality backlinks, a key element of SEO success. When authoritative sites link back to you, it signals to search engines that your content is both valuable and trustworthy, which is particularly important for small brands working to build their domain authority. 

Another savvy PR tactic is newsjacking, where you leverage current events or hot topics. By aligning your content or insights with what’s trending, you can quickly grab attention and relevance, leading to more media coverage and link-building opportunities. This approach not only shows your brand as up-to-date and knowledgeable but also boosts your visibility in searches related to these trending issues. 

In short, blending SEO with strategic PR moves creates a powerful combination. It lifts your brand’s image in your audience’s eyes and bolsters your SEO through increased credibility and a stronger backlink profile, making a significant impact on your overall digital marketing strategy.

Why do business owners doubt SEO’s value?

Illusion #1: Profit Depends Solely on Visitors

There’s a common misunderstanding in digital marketing that simply having a lot of website traffic will lead to higher profits. While it’s great to have a swarm of visitors, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see a boost in revenue. The real trick is to attract not just any visitor, but the right kind – those who are actually looking to buy. 

It’s not uncommon for businesses to see their website traffic spike without a similar increase in sales. This often happens when the visitors aren’t really the business’s target audience. For example, a local shop getting clicks from far away won’t benefit much in terms of actual sales. The focus should be on drawing in qualified prospects who are not only interested in what you’re offering but are also ready and able to make a purchase. This is where location targeting becomes key. 

For businesses depending on local customers, it’s crucial to tailor their online presence to attract local traffic. This can be done through local SEO tactics like using location-specific keywords, getting listed in local directories, and keeping a current Google Business Profile. These methods are effective in bringing in visitors who are more likely to become customers, thanks to their closeness and relevance to your business. 

In essence, while it’s good to aim for more website visitors, the quality of these visitors is what really matters. By focusing on attracting those with genuine sales intent, particularly those in your local area, you can make sure your website traffic better matches your business objectives, leading to improved conversion rates and ultimately, higher profits.

Illusion #2: Not all SEO is Created Alike

The SEO landscape is intricate and constantly evolving, making a generic approach ineffective. It’s vital to dispel the myth that all SEO tactics are equally effective across all searches and businesses. The reality is much more complex, particularly when you consider elements like search intent, the challenges of keyword targeting, and the unpredictability of Google’s algorithm updates.

Understanding Search Intent

Search intent refers to the purpose behind a user’s search query. Different searches indicate different user goals – some are informational, others are transactional, and some are navigational. For example, a search for “how to fix a leaky faucet” suggests the user is seeking information, likely a how-to guide, while “plumbers near me” shows a transactional intent, indicating the user is ready to hire a professional. Aligning your content with the appropriate search intent is key to effective SEO.

Keyword Targeting Issues

The era of keyword stuffing leading to top search rankings is over. Nowadays, it’s more challenging to target and rank for specific keywords. Search engines have become more sophisticated, focusing on the context and quality of content rather than just the keywords. This shift means businesses must create content that truly meets their audience’s needs and queries, rather than just including keywords.

Google Algorithm Updates

Perhaps the most unpredictable factor in SEO is Google’s algorithm updates. These updates can greatly affect website rankings, often without much notice. A strategy that works today may become ineffective tomorrow if it doesn’t align with the latest algorithm changes. These updates aim to enhance user experience by favoring high-quality, relevant content, but they can also negatively impact rankings for websites that don’t adapt quickly.

In summary, understanding that SEO is not a one-size-fits-all process is crucial for businesses. Staying up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in SEO best practices is essential. This includes focusing on search intent, creating quality content that transcends basic keyword targeting, and being flexible enough to adapt to Google’s algorithm updates. By acknowledging these subtleties and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly, you can ensure that your efforts are not only effective but also resilient in the dynamic digital world.

Illusion #3: Focus on Keyword Rankings

A frequent illusion in SEO is placing too much emphasis on keyword rankings as the ultimate indicator of success. While high rankings for chosen keywords are definitely a goal, it’s vital to acknowledge the significant role Google plays in this field. Despite thorough SEO strategies, the harsh truth is that Google has the final say in which sites rank for specific keywords, governed by their intricate and often updated algorithms. 

Businesses must understand that these rankings are not only extremely competitive but also subject to sudden shifts. Google’s algorithm changes, which happen regularly, can instantly transform the search results landscape. A website that’s on the first page today could drop several pages down overnight. This instability emphasizes the need to not rely exclusively on keyword rankings as a measure of success. Instead, adopting a more comprehensive approach to SEO, which includes focusing on quality content, enhancing user experience, and being flexible to algorithm changes, is crucial for lasting online presence and success, especially when faced with the possibility of lost rankings.

Illusion #4: Expecting to see quick results

It’s a common misconception that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) brings quick results, but this often leads to disappointment. Here’s why immediate success in SEO is not usually achievable:

  • SEO as a Long-Term Game: SEO is about gradually building your site’s authority and relevance. Search engines like Google rely on complex algorithms to rank websites, favoring those with established credibility. Achieving this credibility through quality content, backlinks, and user engagement is a process that unfolds over time.
  • Ever-Changing Algorithms: Search engines regularly update their algorithms to improve user experience and counteract spammy strategies. These updates can impact website rankings and necessitate ongoing SEO adjustments. What was effective yesterday may not hold up today, making quick results in SEO unpredictable.
  • Highly Competitive Environment: Most online niches are extremely competitive. New or smaller websites are up against established ones with extensive content and strong backlink profiles. Rising in the rankings in such competitive spaces is a long-term endeavor.
  • The Process of Creating Quality Content: For SEO success, it’s essential to create content that is both high-quality and relevant, appealing to both search engines and users. This involves research, writing, editing, and optimization, and it’s a process that can’t be hurried without compromising quality.
  • Gradual Backlink Building: Acquiring high-quality backlinks, crucial for SEO, is a slow and steady process. It involves creating compelling content, outreach, and building relationships with other website owners.
  • Ongoing User Behavior Analysis: Continuously analyzing user interactions on your site with tools like Google Analytics and adjusting your strategy is essential but time-consuming.

In summary, SEO is a continuous process that requires patience, commitment, and adaptability to the changing search engine landscape. Quick results are often unrealistic, given the nature of search engine rankings and the competitive nature of most online markets.

Illusion #5: Nothing from me, the experts do all the work

When clients invest in SEO services for digital marketing, there’s often a misunderstanding that they’re signing up for a quick-fix solution that doesn’t require their involvement. This is like buying a gym membership and expecting to get fit without working out. Just like achieving fitness goals demands regular exercise and commitment, effective SEO needs active client participation, guided by SEO professionals. 

These experts act as personal trainers for your website, offering customized strategies and techniques to boost your site’s search engine rankings. However, clients need to play their part too. This involves tasks like updating website content, improving site structure for a better user experience, engaging on social media, or even changing some business practices to align with SEO objectives. 

SEO results, much like muscle growth, take time and consistent effort. SEO professionals will point out what needs to be improved, recommend the best tactics, and guide you through the process. But the real work, such as content creation, applying changes to the site, and adapting business practices for better SEO, falls to the clients. 

Essentially, SEO is a team effort. While SEO experts lay out the strategies and provide the necessary tools, it’s the client’s active involvement and commitment to these strategies that drive the success, leading to organic traffic, better link building, and reaching the target audience. Understanding this partnership is crucial for businesses and marketers new to the world of SEO and its marketing strategies.

So should we pay for SEO?

Figuring out if you should invest in SEO and how much to spend can be a tricky decision for businesses. Quality SEO usually isn’t cheap, but it’s important to understand its value in the context of the buyer journey and how it stacks up against other marketing strategies.

Understanding SEO Pricing

The cost of SEO can vary a lot. It depends on what services you need, the expertise of the provider, and your business’s specific requirements. SEO isn’t just about keywords; it’s a comprehensive strategy that includes creating content, optimizing your website, building links, and keeping up with algorithm changes. Top-notch SEO services that really boost your site’s ranking and visibility demand a lot of skill and hard work, which means they’re not going to be cheap.

SEO and the Buyer Journey

When thinking about investing in SEO, consider how it supports the different stages of the buyer journey – awareness, consideration, and decision. SEO is key in each of these phases, helping to draw in potential customers, keep their interest, and guide them towards a purchase. The content for SEO should be crafted to meet your audience’s needs and questions at each stage, helping to move them along in their journey.

Comparing SEO to Other Marketing Options

It’s also smart to weigh SEO against other digital marketing choices like social media ads. Social ads can give you quicker results and are great for targeting specific groups, but they need ongoing investment. Once you stop paying, the traffic usually stops too. SEO, on the other hand, might need more money upfront but can offer more lasting benefits. The organic traffic from SEO keeps coming, even if you’re not constantly paying, giving you a better return over time.

However, choosing between SEO and other marketing strategies depends on your business goals, your target audience, and the market you’re in. For some businesses, the best plan might be a mix of SEO and social media ads, getting the quick impact of social ads and the long-term advantages of SEO.

In summary, while quality SEO does need a bigger investment than many expect, its role in supporting the buyer journey and providing ongoing returns makes it a solid option for most businesses. Think about your specific needs, your industry, and your marketing goals to find the right balance between SEO and other digital marketing strategies. Often, the best approach is a well-rounded one that uses different channels and tactics to hit your overall business targets.

What other options do you have?

When planning your digital marketing strategy, it’s crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages of various marketing channels, especially when comparing long-term approaches like SEO with more immediate tactics like Facebook ads. Understanding these differences is key to deciding how to best distribute your marketing budget for optimal returns.

SEO: A Long-Term Strategy


  • Sustainable Traffic: Once it gains momentum, SEO can drive a consistent flow of organic traffic without ongoing expenses.
  • Credibility and Trust: High rankings on search engines can significantly boost your brand’s credibility.
  • Comprehensive Reach: SEO reaches potential customers at all stages of the buyer journey, from initial awareness to the final decision.


  • Time for Results: Significant SEO results can take several months to materialize.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: SEO demands continuous effort to stay in line with algorithm updates and market shifts.
  • Upfront Costs: Quality SEO services often require a substantial initial investment.

Facebook Ads: A Short-Term Tactic


  • Quick Visibility: Facebook ads can deliver fast results, often noticeable just days after starting a campaign.
  • Precise Targeting: These ads allow for detailed targeting based on user demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  • Campaign Flexibility: It’s easy to start, pause, or tweak campaigns depending on their performance.


  • Continuous Spending: The traffic from Facebook ads usually stops when you stop paying.
  • Ad Fatigue: Over time, users might start ignoring ads, diminishing their impact.
  • Reliance on Platform Changes: Any changes in Facebook’s algorithm or policies can affect how your ads perform.

In summary, SEO and Facebook ads each have their own roles and benefits. SEO is a long-term commitment that builds organic traffic and credibility gradually, while Facebook ads offer immediate visibility and are great for targeted, quick-return campaigns. The decision between these channels should be based on your business objectives, budget, and time frame. For many businesses, a balanced approach that combines the long-term growth potential of SEO with the immediate impact of Facebook ads can be the most effective strategy.

So is SEO dead?

As the digital marketing world rapidly transforms, one question frequently pops up: ‘Is SEO a thing of the past?’ The emphatic answer is no, but there’s a catch – SEO isn’t unchanging. It’s a field in constant flux. Strategies that were successful a few years ago might not work today. That’s why it’s vital for businesses to stay on top of the SEO evolution, adapting their tactics to remain effective.

SEO Evolution and Content Amplification 

In the current landscape, SEO is more than just optimizing for search engines. It involves creating compelling content that strikes a chord with your audience and then spreading that content across various channels. This approach expands the traditional boundaries of SEO, incorporating content marketing, social media, and platforms like YouTube. By diversifying how content is shared and promoted, businesses can tap into a larger audience and increase engagement. Content marketing, when boosted with ads, social media, and video platforms, often outshines traditional SEO-only methods. This is because it enhances visibility and search rankings while also engaging and keeping the audience interested with a mix of media formats. 

Starting with Learning SEO Guide 

For those just stepping into this ever-changing SEO world, beginning with a thorough Learning SEO Guide is recommended. Such a guide provides the basics and current strategies, helping you learn how to integrate SEO with other digital marketing approaches effectively. The key to succeeding in today’s SEO is being flexible and eager to embrace new trends and techniques. In conclusion, SEO is definitely not dead. 

It’s an integral part of digital marketing, but it now requires a modern approach that focuses on content amplification.

  • How much should a small business pay for SEO?

    The cost of SEO for small businesses varies widely, depending on factors like industry competition, geographic location, and the scope of desired SEO services. Generally, small businesses might expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars monthly. It’s crucial to balance affordability with the quality of services offered.

  • Is paying someone to do SEO worth it?

    Paying for professional SEO services is often worth it for small businesses. It ensures that SEO strategies are effectively implemented, which can lead to increased online visibility, higher traffic, and potentially more sales. Professionals stay updated with the latest trends and algorithm changes, providing a significant advantage.

  • Is SEO still relevant in 2023?

    Yes, SEO remains highly relevant in 2023. With the increasing reliance on digital platforms for business and commerce, SEO is crucial for improving online visibility and reaching target audiences. It continuously evolves, so staying updated with the latest SEO practices is important for maintaining relevance in the digital space.

  • Is SEO still profitable?

    SEO continues to be profitable for businesses, including small enterprises. By enhancing online visibility, driving targeted traffic, and improving user experience, SEO can significantly increase the likelihood of conversions and sales. The return on investment for SEO can be substantial, especially when executed strategically over time.