I’m biased, and I’ll admit that, but I’m a firm believer that SEO is a good strategy for any business. Literally any company in the world can benefit from optimizing their site and online assets for visibility in search engines, and to a degree that’s both significant and cost-efficient. Still, I’d be lying if I said SEO had the same potential for every business. The truth is, some industries just have more to gain from SEO than others due to their competitive positions, key demographics, or propensity to influence consumer searches.
These eight types of businesses are ones that have the most to gain from SEO—and the most to lose by neglecting it:
1. Small businesses and startups. First, there are small businesses and startups, both of which have a limited customer base, limited resources and revenue, and occupy a space with a limited target audience. Why is SEO especially beneficial for them? For starters, it doesn’t take much for an initial investment—it’s actually one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies there are. This eases the burden on your budget, but at the same time leaves you room to scale, which is especially important for growing startups. Small businesses can also get the edge over a bigger competitor by targeting smaller niches within their shared demographics.
2. SaaS and online service companies. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have grown in popularity over the past few years because of their lucrative and scalable model of operations, not to mention being tied exclusively to the digital realm. SEO is important here because early on, traditional advertising will do almost nothing for you. You need people on your website, trying your product, and that means you need a strong inbound flow of web users (which SEO provides). Plus, your software likely solves a problem for users, and what do users do when they encounter problems these days? They search for a solution.
3. Niche companies. The term “niche” here is somewhat vague, but I’m referring to any company—big, small, national, or local—that performs a highly specialized function, or otherwise caters to a highly specific target audience. These companies have a huge advantage in the SEO field because they’ve naturally eliminated the competition. You’ll work with a smaller total potential audience and lower inbound traffic numbers, but the relevance of your audience will be much higher (and you’ll have far more competitive keyword opportunities). Use your best judgment here and ask—are there any other companies that target who/what you do?
4. Locally exclusive companies. Local search actually operates on an algorithm separate from national SEO. You’ll notice this if you perform a local search (using geographic-specific keywords or enabling location awareness on your mobile device); you’ll see three entries above the “usual” organic search results.
As you might imagine, this triple slot availability gives you some incredible strategic opportunities. If you can make your site relevant enough to get to one of these slots, you’ll carry enormous visibility—and you don’t have to worry about competing with national players. For companies that operate exclusively for a local population, this is ideal.
5. Medical professionals. Medical professionals, such as general practitioners, specialists, and physical therapists, have a number of advantages that other industries don’t. First, they have a specific field of specialization (for the most part), immediately reducing competition and providing keyword opportunities. Second, they operate locally, giving them an even better competitive edge in the market. Finally, most people end up searching for a provider when they’re experiencing symptoms or pain, putting search as one of the best ways to connect you with your target audience.
6. Legal professionals. Legal professionals enjoy many of the same benefits that medical professionals do. They usually specialize in one key area, giving them a strong competitive advantage and fresh keyword opportunities, and their potential audiences are likely performing searches to find solutions to their legal troubles. Most lawyers and legal service providers also operate locally, giving them the opportunity to capitalize on local search as well.
7. Maintenance professionals. There are dozens of sub-types of “maintenance” professionals; I’ve left this category vague and open for a reason. For example, a car mechanic could qualify just as well as a plumber or a roofer. The idea here is that these professionals help you when something physical is broken or in need of updating in your life. Why is this a good area for SEO? Because the item is physical, that implies a degree of locality, making local SEO a strong option. Because it’s broken, the owner will likely be searching for solutions, and because it may be an emergency, you’ll have an even higher likelihood of converting potential searchers due to their immediate need of assistance.
8. Restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars also need SEO. Even if they operate as part of a larger chain, they’re still tied to one physical location, which makes them ideal for capitalizing on local SEO. Depending on the nature of the business, specialized terms are a likely possibility for competitive dominance, and of course, most people search for places to eat on a semi-imperative basis. This creates a perfect storm of opportunity for search visibility, though the goal should be to get people in the door rather than onto a website.
Again, these businesses aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a strong SEO campaign, but they do stand to benefit more than other types of companies. If you belong to one of these businesses and SEO isn’t currently a part of your marketing lineup, you need to seriously reconsider your strategic position, and soon—the longer you invest in SEO, the more of a payout you’ll see from it.