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SEO Basics for Small Business Owners

Starting a small business is no small feat, and ensuring it thrives in a digital world involves understanding the essentials of SEO. 

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is your secret weapon for online visibility. 

In this blog, I’ll walk you through the basics. Helping you make smarter marketing choices and find the right SEO expert for your business if that’s what you need.

Understanding SEO: Why It Matters

SEO is the art and science of fine-tuning your website so that search engines like Google can find it easily.  It’s the process that needs to be done to help your business show up when someone searches for products or services you offer.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines like Google and Bing are information providers. People use them to help them find answers to questions they have. Search engines use algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant to a user's search. They send out 'spiders' to 'crawl' the content of sites, understanding topics and quality to rank them accordingly. Better SEO means a better chance of appearing at the top of those search results.

So, what are the elements of SEO that help you appear at the top of the search results?

On-Page SEO: Optimising Your Website

On-page SEO are the strategies that are used on your website to help the search engines find out. 

The key to making the most of on-page SEO is to create quality content that incorporates your keywords naturally. Ensure your titles, headings, and meta descriptions are clear and concise, and include your primary keyword phrase.

Keyword Research: The Starting Point

Keywords are the foundation of SEO. They're the words or phrases your potential customers use when searching for your services or products. Knowing what your customers and clients are looking for when they’re searching for you is essential to helping your website get found.

Heading hierarchy

Headings on your website are often different sizes (H1 is the biggest, H2 is the next largest etc). But more than just being a change in typeface size, your headings indicate to the search engines how important the information is.  To make the most of SEO, it’s important to structure your content with header tags (H1, H2, H3) to make it easier for search engines to understand.

Crafting Quality Content

The heart of your on-page SEO is the content. The words. They need to be original, valuable, and relevant. The goal is to engage your readers and answer their questions, encouraging them to stay longer on your site. It’s super, SUPER important to write for humans first. Using keyword-heavy but hard-to-read content will annoy your readers and be harmful to converting them to sales.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Title tags are the names that come up on the top of the website tab when you open the website. Each page gets its own title tag and meta description. Title tags define your page's title as it appears in search engine results, while meta descriptions provide a summary. Both should include your targeted long-tail keywords to boost your visibility.

Internal Linking

Internal linking, or creating links between pages on your site, connects your content, allowing search engines to crawl more deeply into your site.

Off-Page SEO: Building Your Reputation

Off-page SEO is all about things that are done away from your website that impact your chance of appearing at the top of those search results.

The Power of Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other people’s websites to yours. Backlinks from reputable sites can catapult your search rankings.

Start by reaching out to partners, or try guest blogging to get your name out there. Links from other sites to yours act as votes of confidence, telling search engines that others vouch for your content. To gather backlinks, focus on creating share-worthy content and engage with your online community. Easy backlinks to start off with are social media sites (link to your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or LinkedIn pages etc). Directory site listings can also help.

Technical SEO: Ensuring a Smooth Operation

Technical SEO involves optimising the backend of your website to help search engines access and interpret your site effectively. Ensure your website is well-structured, loads quickly, is secure (with SSL), and is mobile-friendly — Google loves all these elements.

Local SEO: Getting Noticed in Your Community

For small businesses, local SEO can be a game-changer. Claim your Google Business Profile listing, ensure your business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across the web, and encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews.

Hiring an SEO Expert: Finding the Right Match

Eventually, you might consider an SEO professional. Look for someone who understands small businesses and communicates clearly. They should offer realistic promises and provide a strategy tailored to your business goals. 

SEO doesn't have to be an enigma. With a grasp of these basics, small business owners can confidently step into the digital arena. 

Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Start with these fundamentals, and watch your online presence grow organically over time.

Let's start with getting your on-page SEO sorted - Book a call and let's talk.