Local SEO – Race Horse or Race Track?

There are many decisions required for best results from local SEO and local internet marketing. Many small business owners don’t have large marketing budgets and SEO takes a back seat in their plans.

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:

  1. Building a source of customers that will increase with time
  2. 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.

Small Business SEO Investment

Small Business SEO Investment

Are you making a big mistake with your marketing and advertising dollars? Many business owners are now making a different marketing choice by making the small business SEO investment.

Small Business SEO Investment

This is the second 3x5xSEO index card article. Looking at the card, the left line shows cost and the bottom line shows time. I love the simplicity of this 3×5 card and what it shows. Traditional media buys include television, newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, billboards and signs, park benches, bus advertising and more. A new media buy platform has emerged in the past 10 years – internet advertising on other people’s platforms.

The biggest new media platform is Google and its Adwords program. This is PPC or pay per click advertising. Google puts your ad on its search results page and on other sites in their content network. You bid for a keyword term and the cost will be pretty high in competitive markets. PPC can be very effective, but you pay by the click. You are spending every time someone clicks on your ad. Other internet advertising opportunities are available too. You can put text ads or display ads on many sites. You may pay by the click or by the month, but you must continue to pay for your ad to display.

The Biggest Opportunity for Small Business Marketing

Never before in the history of business, has a small business owner had the opportunity to create their own platform to market their products and services. Only a few years ago, if a small business created a newsletter or catalog, they would still need to buy names or distribution for their creations. The internet has changed everything.

The New Marketing Model vs. Old Models

The internet gives you, the small business marketer, the opportunity to directly present your story, your unique vision, your character and your products and services to people who are actually looking for what you have to offer. Contrast this model or method to the old model. Let’s use newspapers as an example.

In the newspapers model, you pay for your ad placement. Unless you pay for multiple placements, your ad is in one place in the whole newspaper. If a reader happens to read the page your ad is on, happens to see your ad, and, is interested at that time, then they might call you or visit your business. That’s a lot of ifs. To get a regular stream of customers, you must pay over and over again. It’s call advertising expense – not investment.

Using small business SEO flips the old model upside down. First, SEO is targeted. You are presenting your business to people who are looking for you and your products. Second, there are still a few ifs, but they’re ifs you can control. If your content grabs their attention, and if your content keeps their attention, and if it provides what they’re looking for, they will take the next step to becoming a buying customer. Wow, what a difference. A precise targeted model vs. placing an ad and crossing your fingers.

Investment vs. Expense

Now for the harsh reality. If you are in a competitive market, you will need to invest your own time and resources in building your SEO presence, or you will need to engage an SEO consultancy. There will be initial costs in setting up your website, creating a good design, building the best possible content and then external link building to get your site ranked. The cost will be based on online competition in the market. In many markets the competition is light, in others its tough. But that’s good. If you see two or three other businesses competing hard, it means there’s business to be had.

Think And – Not Either / Or

You may be thinking, wait a minute. My advertising is working. I’m not going to give it up. You’re right, you shouldn’t give up somethings that working, but can you afford not to be in the space that the whole world is moving into? Internet marketing is exploding because internet usage is exploding. More and more people are using search engines and social media to find business products and services. If you are not in the internet space and you’re not already at a competitive disadvantage, it’s likely that you will be soon.

At a minimum, isn’t it time you assessed your small business SEO investment? Contact me at 386-295-2049 if you’d like to know more.