Local and small business SEO is a long term program. Effort and investment today will not pay off for a few months or longer. Print advertising, pay per click and other forms of immediate gratification advertising are easier to execute and justify in the short term. Search engine optimization is a mid to long-term payoff and it’s not nearly as easy.
Who Makes The Money?
In the horse racing business, who makes the most money? Is it the owner of a race horse, or, is it the owner of the race track? You know it’s the owner of the track. A horse can only race a handful of times in a year. There are a lot of horses in every race, but only one winner. The track has nine to ten races a day and owners make money all day long.
It takes time to build a race track. It takes some time to build the business, but once it’s built and bettors and fans are coming to the races, the owners make money from the betting, attendance, parking and concessions.
Horses have short careers. They run for awhile and then they no longer generate money for their owners. Advertising has short duration. As long as it’s effective, it runs. Once it’s no longer effective it’s gone and the advertiser must find a different media.
Advertising platforms like to see advertisers succeed and stick around, but like the horses at the track, they don’t really need any one particular horse. They need horses. Online, the owner of the race track is the owner of the website where you advertise.
Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and other sites where you can place your advertising are the race track and you are the horse. You can make money in the short term, as long as you keep paying.
What If You Owned The Race Track?
When you own your own website and visitors come to you site, you own the race track. No, it’s not Google size and you’re unlikely to make billions of dollars, but it’s yours to control and build. The danger with Facebook and similar sites is that they will make it more expensive and less effective for small business owners to advertise on their sites. Google has made it more expensive for many small business owners to use AdWords over the years.
The reasons are simple – would you rather deal with 10 big businesses paying $1,000,000 a month each, or 100,000 small businesses pay $100 a month. Google wants the big players and so do the other platforms. As they become more effective, your costs as a small business owner will go up.
If you own the track and use Local SEO to send the visitors, you’re doing two things:
- Building a source of customers that will increase with time
- Protecting yourself against rising costs and decreasing results
Local SEO and your own website may not be the only tools you use for your small business marketing, but even if it’s $200-300 per month in investment, you should consider building out the only program that brings you free customers over time.