10 SEO Basics Every Small Business Owner Should Know You might well have heard of SEO before, it’s one of the essential parts of any online marketing effort, even for local businesses. But what is it, and what does it mean for your business? SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This involves the art of getting your business found by the right people, at the right time, on search engines like Google, Bing, Linkedin or Youtube. Your ‘ranking’ refers to how high up in the search results you appear. From here on in we’ll talk about Google only, although the basics that we are covering in this article are relevant for all search engines. Keywords choice is important. A ‘Keyword’ can actually either be a single word or a whole phrase. It is what the user types into Google. Your SEO company will be able to research this for you and give you an idea of different keywords that your customers may be using, how many people search for each keyword per month, and how difficult it will be for you to rank well for it. From there, you can work out the focus of your SEO strategy together. Feature keywords on your website, but not too much! To rank well for a keyword, Google will need to know that you are an authority on this subject. They will analyse your website, and if they determine that you have good content about that particular keyword, then you will rank better for it. Your content must at all times remain natural, and useful to the user, you can’t cram loads of keywords in there in a desperate attempt for rankings glory. The links in your site help. The links that you use, along with the hierarchy, navigation and content of your pages, will help you to rank well for the keywords you are focusing on. Users first. This is true on so many levels. Firstly, Google is a business, and like any business they want to keep their customers (in this case the people who are searching) happy. They don’t want to send people to websites that they don’t like, because next time the user might choose a different search engine. So they will closely analyse what happens, if the users they send to you spend a long time on your website, then it probably means they like your content, and so Google is probably going to send more users your way. Also, the point of SEO is not to get people to your website, it is to make you money. There’s no way people are going to contact you and become your customers if they don’t like what they read on your website. Content is king, you need a balance of useful content that people will love (like this blog post 🙂 ), and content that is optimized for SEO. Links to your site are worth their weight in gold. Well ok they don’t actually weigh anything, but you get the point. Other websites that link to your website will help to increase your website’s ‘authority’. The higher your authority, the better you will rank for keywords. Websites with a high authority that link to you pass on much more value than websites with low authority, and the more relevant the website is to yours, the better. Keep it fresh baby. Websites that produce regular, interesting content perform much better than stale ones that haven’t been touched in years. The art here lies in nailing down a strategy so that you can get good, regular, original content without taking up too much of your time. Mobile matters. Websites that are not optimized for mobile are getting heavily penalised by search engines. With more and more users carrying out initial searches on their mobiles, this makes a huge difference, and this is only going to get bigger. It’s not all Google. Google is by far the biggest search engine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best fit for you. It may be the case that you show concentrate on Youtube, or that social media is a better place for you to spend scarce resources. Call in the experts. If you think the above sounds complicated or too much of a drain on your time, please be aware that this is the extreme basics. There’s a whole industry built up around SEO. Why? Because it’s hugely important, it provides real returns for businesses, and it’s difficult to master. Our (admittedly biased) advice is to get a professional in. It won’t cost the earth, and, if you get the right people, they will be able to tell you whether or not SEO is a good fit for your business. If you’d like to know more, give us a shout and we’ll happily take a free look at your business and let you know if SEO is going to be a cost effective strategy for you.