Search engine optimisation is a crucial element when it comes to being seen online, but small businesses often find that becoming visible to customers is harder than it seems.
As an online entrepreneur, Sabrina Kushnir knows how important it is to be SEO-savvy, but this wasn’t always the case.
Kushnir, 25, is the sole trader of Kush Diamonds, which aims to revolutionise the diamond market by creating the perfect balance between online, wholesale and retail business models.
Her hybrid business model means there is no shop front, but clients can select diamonds online and view them at a private office in the Melbourne CBD.
Kushnir’s lineage in the Australian diamond and jewellery industry spans nearly four decades – her father is a jeweler, her mother is a gemologist and her grandmother is a pearl threader.
In addition to degrees in marketing and psychology, Kushnir is completing her Diploma of Gemmology at the Gemmological Association of Australia.
But despite her rich heritage and impressive education, Kushnir admits she wasn’t prepared for the unique challenges that present themselves to online businesses, especially SEO.
“Originally, when I was deciding on an agency to build the website, I was more interested in the aesthetic appeal and artistic ability of the agency,” she says.
“Given that it’s a luxury product, it has to reflect our values. I chose an agency based on that. In hindsight, I should have been less worried about beauty and more worried about the backend, which is SEO.”
“It was only after the website was up that I thought, where’s our presence on Google?”
Kushnir soon realised she had chosen the wrong agency. But rather than rely on yet another agency to help her build her online presence, she decided to do it herself.
“There are lots of agencies and people great at building websites, and those that are great at SEO, but I didn’t have an agency focused on an SEO-friendly website,” she says.
“I don’t see it as a mistake but as a lesson. In a way, it actually helped me. If I went to an agency that built the website and did SEO at the same time, I wouldn’t know what I know today.”
“I learnt so much from having to do it myself… I’ve recently started doing a lot of reading online – online blogs and Google has its own blog-type help pages.”
“I’ve also turned to associates, friends, and ex-colleagues from uni or even school… I have good contacts in SEO and I’ve been learning from them.”
Kushnir says while it’s only early days, the business is travelling well. She doesn’t have any set revenue targets as of yet, saying it will be at least a year before profits start coming through.
Her biggest advice to other online start-ups is to learn as much as possible before launching.
“With Google, it feels like another language. You don’t know about it until you’re in it, and it’s constantly evolving,” she says.
“Get as much advice as you can before doing anything, and signing any contracts with agencies, [because] you don’t know what you’re getting until after you see the results.”
“Hopefully, all small businesses are keen to learn about the backend like I am, but read and learn as much as you can and get advice from others.”
According to Kushnir, persistence is also an important quality for any entrepreneur.
“It’s very stressful, with sleepless nights, but you can’t get anywhere without the challenges. They give you the knowledge for the future,” she says.
“Embrace the challenges and don’t see anything as a mistake. Learn to move forward so you don’t end up in those same places again.”