SEO Basics for Small Businesses

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As a small business, it’s important to have a solid grasp on SEO basics. Here, we’ve outlined a series of best practices and tips.

SEO — it’s a term we’ve seen everywhere, but perhaps might be new to you when you start marketing your small business. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the strategy behind enhancing your business’ visibility in search engine results. While you’re probably already using social media and certain visual marketing techniques that go with them, SEO marketing is a form of content marketing. It’s important because, while social media can drive traffic to your business as well as build awareness of it, search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and others, are still major channels through which customers find businesses and services. Here, we’ll outline a few SEO basics to help you get started in increasing your business’ visibility. And don’t forget to download our free business plan templates while you’re here to help you get started in making your dream enterprise a reality.

Search Engines and Your Website

As we said before, search engines are an essential way by which clients find the goods and services they’re looking for. And as we all know, search engines are based on algorithmic logic, which is essential to understanding SEO basics. This is where the SEO pages on your website come into play. When we use search engines, we use phrases or words as our “query” in order to come up with relevant results. Search engines like Google have what are called “crawlers,” or bots that “crawl” the internet and look at the SEO data coded into webpages to determine their ranking, or “indexing,” in search results, which is correlated to the “query” and the “keywords” on your website. While algorithms between search engines vary, the basic idea is that the order of the indexed results that are returned for a given search query are provided based upon their relevance and their popularity. Having your site rank at the top, or near the top of this list, is good for driving traffic to your website, but it’s unlikely unless you’ve mastered your SEO basics.

SEO Basics and Best Practices: Search Engines

Your Title Element

Make sure to use <title> elements in your page so that Google’s crawlers recognize and index it. A <title> element is code that is written into your <head> element on your website’s HTML page. It informs both users and Google’s bots what your website is all about. The titles you code into your pages should accurately describe the page content, be unique to each page (no recycling page titles for multiple pages on your website), and be at once brief and descriptive. Keep unneeded keywords out of your code, and make sure the words you’re using are directly relevant to the pages content, and descriptive of it. Google’s Adwords’ Keyword Planner is here to help you test your preferred keywords for SEO. 

Your Meta Description

A description meta tag is coded underneath the title element in a page’s HTML head, and includes more information about what your page offers visitors. It’s useful for search engines because it will give potential customers a “snippet” of text relating to what goods and services your enterprise can offer. Keep this section descriptive and efficient.

Your Pages

Ultimately, creating high-quality content and rich copy is a good way not only to attract traffic to your site, but to make every visitor a return visitor. Google recommends investing in quality in its SEO basics and best-practice guidelines, which can be found here.

Best Practices: Customers

In all of the guides available on SEO basics and content marketing, you’ll find one phrase repeated time and time again — build your website for people, not for search engines. Constantly-repeated keywords are a no-go here, and with clients getting savvier and savvier about content marketing, they aren’t appreciated. The key in building a website that is useful for your customers is to think of your goods and services and their use of search engines to find those goods and services, from their point of view.

When people use search engines, it’s generally for at least one of three reasons: They want to do something (buy a toaster, adopt a cat), know something (the weather next week), or go to a specific place on the internet (news coverage of a certain event from, for example, the BBC). Keeping this in mind, what keywords and phrases will be the most pertinent and correlated between a potential client’s search query, and your website’s pages? Put yourself in your client’s shoes — what keywords will they be submitting to the search bar, and how can you integrate those keywords on your websites SEO pages and in its code?

Why it Pays to Be First

Why is knowing your SEO basics so essential? Showing up at the top of organic (or unpaid) search results is great for your company for several reasons. First of all, people are naturally the most drawn to the top organic results (this includes the sponsored results at the top of the page, by the way). Appearing first in the search engine, even if it’s only a marker of how well your page’s SEO corresponds to the search query, increases client trust and makes your company seem more reputable. And besides that, it’s obviously the best way to drive traffic.

It’s estimated that nearly half of internet users use search engines on a daily basis. Google is estimated, in 2018, to drive about three quarters of internet searches, but it’s important not to forget the importance of sites like Yahoo and Bing, who, while smaller, still drive an impressive amount of traffic themselves. The number of daily searches on Google is estimated at around 3.5 billion — if nothing else, it’s a great reason to start thinking seriously about Search Engine Optimization and keeping your SEO basics tight.

Keep it Fresh

Keeping your SEO basics and techniques fresh is also an important part of the job, and because search engines are constantly updating, you’ll need to follow suit. Keywords and queries can change just as your company and its offer does, so it’s important to keep this information up-to-date on your website. As you add more content to your site, increase your internal links, make sure that your URLs are manageable and unique to the pages they reference, and keep your meta- and title- elements as pertinent, descriptive, and effective as possible. And above all, don’t forget — SEO and content marketing is important, but the very best way to attract and maintain business is always to invest first and foremost in creating high-quality content that grabs your customer’s interest. Don’t forget to check out our free business plan templates Excel to help you get started with a solid strategy behind your marketing campaigns, and more marketing tips for small businesses !

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