As the owner of a small or medium-sized business, you may be under the impression that “SEO” (Search Engine Optimisation) is just a fancy marketing term for big businesses and corporations. And you’re not alone – in a recent survey, it was found that while 56% of small businesses have their own websites, only 28% think about SEO.The importance of SEO in this day and age could not be more prevalent. Neglecting to apply SEO strategies to your website may be as crippling for your business as locking your front doors. So what does SEO do? In a world where most consumers use search engines to find nearby companies, SEO is the difference between being visible or invisible. Here are 5 reasons why SMB’s should use SEO today.1) Traffic BoostThe traffic going to your website is driven mainly by search engines. Simply putting up a website is not enough to get seen; people have to know you exist in the first place. Every time they use Google or another search engine to find their new job, designer handbag, car repair (or anything else), Google uses special algorithms to determine which websites will show up on the front page.By using certain SEO strategies, you can be one of the first sites to pop up every time someone needs something related to your business. Without SEO, you will be buried beneath a mountain of competitors.2) It’s Cost EffectiveMost marketing and advertising costs big money, but the only cost of SEO is how much time you spend learning SEO strategies and writing content, or paying an SEO specialist to improve your Google rankings. With a proper SEO campaign maintained over several months, you can expect an ROI several times greater than any Facebook or AdWords advertising, up to 800% or more.3) Small Businesses Can Beat Big Businesses with Specific Keywords and Other Localized AdvantagesOnce you get into SEO, you will start to learn that it’s all about the keywords, which are simply the words and phrases that people enter into search engines. The overall goal of SEO is to write content in which these keywords are used and focused on, making your site stronger and higher ranked when people Google that certain keyword.So you might think that your chances at success are hopeless; after all, how are you supposed to out-SEO corporations and large businesses that have been doing this for years? Well, small businesses actually have a greater advantage due to long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are long and specific keywords or phrases. As a small business, you also have a smaller and more specific target audience (for example, everyone looking for your product or service in your town or city, as opposed to a global audience). You can hone in on long tail keywords that include your specific location or audience, that big businesses won’t bother tackling. Sure, Toys R Us may get all the “new toys” searches, but your small toy store can capture all the “new toys for young boys in London” searches.And this isn’t the only thing that helps out small businesses, search engines generally take into account the user’s location with Local Search, meaning you have a better chance to be seen by people in your area. This will only improve with recent updates in which business owners can further personalize their listings.In addition to this there is also what’s known as “off-page SEO”: this is less about the SEO work you do on your website, and more about improving your reputation in the real world and through social media. It turns out that people are more than willing to talk up a small local business that provide a good service, and the more people are talking about you on the web, the more likely your rankings will rise.4) Competitors Will Always Have an Advantage If You Don’t Jump OnboardThe internet boom has come and gone, and ignoring what it can offer is just irresponsible for your business. SEO is fact of life these days and most, if not all, of your competitors are certain to be doing this, so you need to get onboard.You may argue that you already have a stable group of loyal customers who will keep your business afloat, customers with whom you have built up trust before the SEO and social media years. Sure, that may be the case now, but how long until those customers stop needing or wanting the service or product you provide? New customers will not flock to your store like the old ones. Why? Because new customers will be swept away by your competition long before they even hear your name.5) SEO Will Always Be AroundSEO isn’t something that we’ll ride out. The way search engines work, and the fact Google has an increasingly monopolized hold over search engines and various social media platforms, SEO will always be relevant. The best option is to start working on your SEO as soon as possible if you don’t want your business to drown under the current.So what are you waiting for? Don’t let the marketing acronyms and jargon scare you away; at the end of the day, SEO is as simple as every other part of running a business. The longer you wait, the further you fall behind. And if you still don’t feel comfortable handling all the technical aspects of SEO, that’s fine; that’s what SEO specialists are for.