Starting an online business in today’s crowded online market can be exhausting work, but it can reap huge rewards if you get it going.  

The initial fundamental challenge lies with the division of your time when setting up a business against the return on your time invested in concentrating on strategies that will reap the most benefits.

Delegation of time is crucial between success and failure, so offsetting other tasks become paramount while you focus on your core objectives. With that in mind in this article, we focus on how using an SEO agency will be the best way to build your online presence.

When it comes to becoming visible in crowded industries and marketplaces, there’s nothing that pushes the envelope faster than a guided and strategically planned and implemented SEO project.

Small Businesses: Where to Start with an SEO Agency?

Table of Contents

  • SEO – What is it?
  • Why as a Small Business Invest in SEO?
  • Getting Started? There’s More than One Option
  • An SEO Agency – The Benefits
  • An SEO Agency – The Challenges

SEO – What is it?

To not get too technical, SEO in its basic form is the systematic process of making a particular website more visible to search engine result pages (SERPs). It looks to generate interest and organic traffic (organic meaning non-promotional or paid advertising).

Googles famed algorithm is a complex machine that ranks websites using hundreds of factors.

Many of these factors are common knowledge to industry experts and many business owners alike.

Many people are familiar with:

  • Keywords
  • Load-up Speed
  • On-site & Off-site Optimisation

To name just a few, and many more geared towards satisfying the user but ultimately making Google and other SERPs happy.

Why keep Google happy? Well, it’s simpler than you may think. If you want an online business, you need clicks and attention from users to achieve this, and you need to be near the top of the SERPs; they go hand in hand.

Consider some of the following 2021 statistics at hand analysing click-through-rates (CTR).

These figures were based on 5.1 million users in the United States.

CTR of Organic SEO positions on Google:

Ranking Positions:

  • 31.7 per cent
  • 24.7 per cent
  • 18.7 per cent
  • 13.6 per cent

Statistics we can see in the graph below shows that position 10 on page 1 of Google is ten times less likely to receive a click than the number one spot.

As a median moving up a single space on the front page can result in a CTR of over 30 per cent.

On average, just over 0.75 per cent of users will click on a link appearing on page two of the SERPs.

SERP real estate is getting as valuable as bricks and mortar real estate. Very much like real estate, it is something that feels tangible to a business owner who’s invested time and money into online marketing.

There are many ways to market a new business, but organic SEO is by far the most credible and rewarding in the long term.

Why as a Small Business Invest in SEO?

For someone unfamiliar with successful organic SEO, you may wonder why, as a small business, should I allocate time and money to something I can’t set a value on?

I can generate business in other ways, right?

The simple answer is ‘Yes, of course’. There are other ways of becoming noticed by using Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, email marketing, social media platforms, blog linking to your site and different ways. However, each of these must be worked on or paid for continuously.

I’ll give you an idea of the work involved:

PPC: You must constantly ensure you optimise, both visually and content-wise, to ensure you get what you are paying for.

Social Media: To keep the momentum, you must post something almost daily to keep your audience engaged and sharing, sharing their posts and commenting regularly.

Email Marketing: Too little engagement with the list you have nurtured will result in losing traffic, and too many emails can be considered spam.

I avoid telling any startup small business not to use these three methods to cover the spectrum of lead generation and general outreach as they can help balance out your marketing.

However, remember these play second fiddle to structured solid organic SEO.

SEO is:

  • More Efficient.  Although the work at the beginning of any long-term SEO campaign is significant, things can move upwards quickly and continuously when results happen. Therefore, it requires less continual maintenance than typical marketing. Of course, if you were to pull back on paid searches, you would disappear instantly, regardless of how long you had been advertising. So SEO delivers long-term value to a small business.
  • More Effective.  In today’s society, people aren’t looking on the TV or picking up a newspaper, not even opening their email, they go straight to the search engines for almost everything they need in their lives. Google averages just over 63,000 searches per second – equating to around 5.6 billion per day worldwide. Instead of fishing in the sea, you are fishing in a lake. You have much more chance of engagement through potential customers searching what you provide.
  • More Sustainable. When you stop paying for paid ads, you cease to exist on Google, as I mentioned above. Social Media relies on up-to-date trends and new facts. Anyone familiar with social media will know-how trends have changed dramatically with the usage of different platforms over recent years. With email marketing, it’s easy for someone to opt-out. SEO can help you generate traffic, clicks and online purchase for years to come.

Once organic SEO is underway, it’s good to spread a marketing budget across the other forms of marketing, but don’t forget where to use the lion’s share!

Getting Started? There’s more than one option

Finding the right starting point is essential, but various paths are open to a small business owner. It is a case of determining cost and time efficiency.

Here are some options to start:

  • DIY SEO. This method requires a lot of elbow grease. You’ll need to learn the basics and start with free online user tools such as Google Analytics and go for it. Naturally, if you can take the time to learn the basics, understand the analytics and don’t need to pay anyone to see results, that’s great. And is achievable if you are in a tiny niche; if not, it will take up an enormous amount of valuable startup time.
  • Freelance SEO. Freelance SEO specialists are everywhere. You can find them on forums, LinkedIn, freelance SEO websites and so on. You can see previous projects and see reviews and ratings. The negative is reporting and trusting someone that doesn’t have a company behind them to execute your requirements.
  • Hired SEO. Getting someone in-house is a good idea as it’s tangible work, you know it gets done, and you have personal contact with the person(s), which provides accountability over freelancers. However, particularly in the West, labour laws have changed, and the process of advertising, interviewing, then contracts, office space and taxation in today’s business environment can work against a small business owner, in both time and money.
  • SEO Agency. Last but not least, hiring an SEO Company. Although comfortably more expensive than the first two options above, it is superior to hiring one or two in- house SEO specialists. It offers all the same benefits but usually comes with a bigger team and saves the time and costs of hiring. All of these options can be the right one for certain small businesses depending on variables, but I recommend you start with people in the know.

An SEO Agency – The Challenges

Although I am for using an SEO team for small businesses, it is not suitable for everyone.

SEO needs to be approached from the right angle with the proper context. Otherwise, it could have an adverse effect.

Here are some potential pitfalls:

  • Budgetary Concerns. SEO packages can offer a range of prices from affordable startup packages to corporate packages costing thousands of dollars per month. The cheaper you go, the smaller the team that will be working on your project, just like anything else in life. While access to funds for many small businesses is not a significant concern, it can be a case of treading on eggshells for startups. Marketing is essential to the success of all companies, but overspending by thousands per month on SEO is not efficient if you haven’t established a reliable revenue stream to start.
  • Too Soon. Many small business startups build a new SEO campaign from the beginning worldwide. However, if you are so small you haven’t got a web presence of any kind, it may be a little early to start working with an SEO company unless they offer all-inclusive packages where they offer web design and SEO. If you have found a competent web designer or are making your own, sometimes it’s better to get some momentum using FREE online tools and then bring in an agency to give the project a shot of adrenaline.
  • No In-House Representative. Small businesses have personnel limitations, especially since COVID-19 hit. Some cannot hire an in-house SEO expert, some not even a marketing agent. I have witnessed in the past 20 years many small businesses with no dedicated SEO or marketing specialist hire an SEO company and spread their wings. However, it is crucial to have a dedicated campaign manager at the SEO company. Someone you can turn to who knows everything about your campaign, someone who understands your business goals and you can brainstorm with and feel comfortable knowing where each $ is being spent.

Not every small business has these issues to deal with, but they are worth noting. The more you think about these, the less likely you will get caught up in a detrimental situation when growing your business.

An SEO Agency – The Benefits

The bottom line to any SEO agency is to improve your overall visibility online and generate traffic, and in many cases, in-bound leads and grow your bottom line and offer great ROI.

Here are the benefits of working with an SEO company.

  • Website Improvement. Most SEO companies now offer website optimisation as part of their SEO package. With Google liking correct image sizes and load-up speeds, you can no longer implement effective SEO unless the website is optimised to achieve the results.
  • Accessing Expertise. If you choose one of the first two options in the section above, you will be left with a limited knowledge base and statistics to act on. However, using a team of full-time experts with all their paid-for analytical tools and techniques will be effective.
  • Provides Strategy. The days of making a few tweaks to the website, adding more keywords into your content or blog, and expecting significant results are almost extinct. Today’s online competition demands designated workers with a solid strategy behind them to get to and stay on top.
  • Advanced Analytics. For anyone who has tried ‘DIY SEO,’ Google Analytics is probably the most straightforward system for a beginner to learn. Even so, you could well have become overwhelmed at the amount of data for you to process. An experienced team in an SEO company will sift through the data to immediately analyse the metrics that matter to rankings. Your CTR, bounce rates, conversion rates, time spent on each page and use a heatmap, all of which are premium performance indicators.
  • Saves Time. Outsourcing has become commonplace this century and is vital to many businesses, big and small, globally. SEO is no different by outsourcing your marketing to professionals in this competitive field, will save you a vast amount of time allowing you to focus on your business.


So now, you may start to see that even a small business should be looking at this method to spark their website into ranking action for the first year or two if both parties approach it correctly. 2022 could set the bar even higher for internet usage as it has through the global pandemic. With such ferocious competition and the business landscape in a state of flux, working with an experienced SEO agency and their team should reap the quickest and most consistent results this year. Take your time, find the right one and Good Luck!