Small businesses lack the resources to compete with large corporations on almost every level. For this reason, they often rely on a combination of retaining current customers and word-of-mouth marketing to keep their businesses afloat. However, it is difficult to grow without an online presence. This is where SEO comes in.

No matter how your business is doing at the moment, what you’ve heard from other small business owners, and how much you have to spend on marketing, your company needs SEO.

1. High Return on Investment

SEO is inexpensive and effective. In fact, many marketers say that SEO gives them the highest return on investment (ROI) of all digital marketing channels. In a study, 40 percent of respondents named organic search as the top channel — paid search came in second place with just 19 percent.

2. Reach Just Your Target Audience

Traditional marketing methods involve putting your message in front of anyone who happens to see it. You have no capability to target the users you want. SEO is just the opposite. With the right strategy, only people who are interested in your offerings will see your website and content.

3. Build Brand Recognition

As a small business, you are unknown to all but your customers. SEO can change this. As you start appearing in search results and on maps, you’ll become a recognizable name. This helps you develop a sense of credibility and authority — increasing the likelihood that prospects see you as a brand they can trust. Best of all, unlike with physical marketing materials, once you’ve created a webpage or piece of content for SEO, it will stay online permanently.

4. Retain Customers

A major aspect of SEO is creating a great user experience on your website. This not only benefits new visitors but also current customers. A positive experience on your website will ensure that these customers see your brand as professional. Plus, if they enjoy the time they spend on your website, they are more likely to stick around to check out more of your content. This can lead to additional purchases and upselling.

5. Stay Competitive

If your competitors are using SEO but you are not, you’re at a disadvantage. Alternatively, if your competitors are mainly small businesses themselves and have yet to realize the importance of SEO, you can have the upper hand from the start. As SEO takes a while to fully take effect, beginning early will put you ahead into the long term.

Some businesses think they are better off without SEO because of the expense. Others have heard horror stories from small businesses who tried SEO and failed. However, SEO is always worthwhile when you have the right strategy. All you need is to find an SEO company that can show proven results working with a business like your own. What you cannot do is neglect SEO — this will make it difficult (if not impossible) to reach new prospects and thrive as a business.