For many small businesses, getting found online became even more important with Covid-19 restrictions causing people to stay home and avoid public places. While online marketing can be complex and involves quite a few cryptic abbreviations, we’ll help you get the lay of the land.

You may decide to tackle some of these initiatives yourself, and if not, you’ll be better equipped to speak with a digital marketing professional.

To begin with, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and what that refers to is specifically organic search (as opposed to paid search).

More specifically, the optimization that businesses conduct is specific to Google as 88.1% of online searches conducted in the United States are on Google. The trailing pack includes Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo, making up roughly 10% combined.

A successfully optimized site will start to generate organic traffic. When you type in a search term in Google and hit enter, Google’s algorithm tries to give you the best fit result in position 1 and then follow that on with other great results in sequential order. When someone clicks your listing in the search results, that is organic traffic.

You have probably noticed that when you run many searches, Google also displays listings at the very top with the word “Ad.” If you pay Google for an advertisement and receive clicks, you’re getting paid traffic. Optimizing paid traffic is a whole different project.

The goal of SEO is to get your site listed as close to the top of the results as you can.

Each time Google shows your site, you’ve earned an impression.

Each time that impression gets clicked, you’ve earned a click.

Each click is a real person that is now on your site that is now counted as a unique visitor.

An Introduction to SEO for Small Businesses 1

You’ll then hear people talking about conversions. What is generally meant is someone on your site taking an action that puts you in touch with them:

  • Purchase of an item on e-commerce site
  • Completing a form or otherwise identifying themselves on a service-based website
  • Starting a free trial on a software site

The basic idea is that you have a funnel: More impressions leads to more clicks leads to more unique visitors leads to more conversions leads to more revenue.

So How Do You Get Your Site Shown?

The first step is to be sure that Google is aware of your site and its various pages in the first place. You can check this very easily by opening google and seeing how many of your pages it has indexed.

Simply follow the format below:

An Introduction to SEO for Small Businesses

In this example, we asked Google how many pages of the site called “mysite.com” are indexed and it returned 66,100 individual pages.

If putting in “site:” followed by your url doesn’t return any results, fear not. Share it to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or other social media and Google will quickly find it and index it.

How Do I Get My Site Ranked on the First Page?

Broadly, Google relies on two components to decide what pages should get top placement in its search results:

On Page – On page optimization includes many factors that you can improve upon:

  • Readability – Is the copy legible, broken up into easy to scan sections, well-written, informative? Google wants to suggest pages that will make the search user happy to be sure your page is easy to read and informative.
  • Originality – If your page is a copy of someone else’s, you’ll actually get penalized and other pages within your site may even suffer. Be sure your content is original.
  • Load speed – Google will not serve pages that load slowly as users will simply leave and try something else. Be sure you use images that are optimized for the web. You can check the speed of individual pages on your site and get recommendations for free here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  • Mobile-friendliness – Web searches are more and more happening on smartphones. Android is the #1 operating system globally. Google wants your page to be responsive: easy to read on a mobile device.
  • Tagged Correctly – Google asks you to supply some data points to help it summarize your page:

    ○Page Title – This is what you see in your browser tabs. Include your company name and a blurb about what this specific page is about.

    ○Page Description – Expand on the page title by giving the searcher more info about the benefit of the page. Google shows this in the search results.

    ○Header Tags – Google puts extra emphasis on text you label as H1, your top-level headers so be sure these are informative and specific to the page in question.

    ○Image tags – In addition to text-based search results, Google returns image results. Be sure to clearly label your images using both the Alt and Title tags to tell Google what the photo contains.

    ○Navigation – Google wants websites to make it easy on the visitor to get between pages. Use clear navigation to help users get around your page.

    ○Relevance – Google will rank sites that are continually being updated higher than sites that rarely see updates. Starting a blog is a great way to keep your site relevant.

Off Page – Google takes into account how many external sites link to your site as a measure of its relative importance. External links to your site are called backlinks. Some easy ways to get links to your site:

  • Create social media profiles and be sure each profile links to your website.
  • Share content to social media and be sure each piece you share links to a specific page of yours.
  • Claim your profiles on review sites: Google My Business, Yelp, Tripadvisor, OpenTable, etc. are great places to get profiles that link back to your site and may generate direct conversions of their own.
  • Make it easy for visitors to share your content. Installing social share buttons is an easy way to make sharing easier for your site. The more your visitors share, the more links and impressions you get.

Now that you have a general idea of what SEO is, you can start testing your site and read up on specific topics we covered in more detail.

Happy optimizing!