The importance of SEO for small businesses

6 min read
Will Stevens

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great marketing tool, but it can often be overlooked. In this guide, we'll examine the importance of SEO for small businesses, and also provide some resources to help you improve the SEO of your website.

Why search engine optimization is important to a business

As the owner of a business website, what the one thing you always want more of? While there are several potential answers to this question, at the top of the pile is always "website visitors who want to buy my products/services".

So if you could secure a regular stream of website visitors who are actively search for a product/service like the one you're offering, you'd undoubtedly want a piece of the action.

Well, that's exactly what SEO offers to all businesses of all sizes.

Of course, you need to put in the groundwork first to reap the rewards. But if you do, you could end up with a regular flow of visitors who are very interested in what you do.

Remember: 3.5 billion searches are made on Google per day, so if you're not doing SEO that's a lot of potential visits you're missing out on.

This alone should be enough to convince you of the importance of SEO, but there are still some other objections that small business owners can have.

Do big companies reduce the importance of SEO for small businesses?

This is a common complaint: How can my small business succeed in SEO when there are so many larger rivals around?

And it's true: A small company is never going to be able to outrank Amazon for ecommerce terms. The secret is, you don't have to.

With so many searches made each day, there are plenty of keywords that Amazon isn't ranking for, but that would still be relevant for your business.

This is one of the key lessons when doing small business SEO: You need to identify keywords that people are using, which are relevant to your business and which aren't already dominated by your larger rivals. Then you need to rank for them.

Of course, this is easier said than done. But if you understand this principle you won't spend your time chasing keywords that aren't relevant to your business, or that you have no hope of ranking for.

You can check out this guide to learn more about conducting keyword research.

The importance of on page SEO for small businesses

Keywords are the initial building block of an area of SEO known as on page SEO. As the name suggests, this field is all about things you can do on an individual web page to improve its SEO.

The first step is to identify which keyword(s) you want a page to rank for and then make sure you use those keyword(s) on the page in question.

Quite often, these keywords are obvious. For example, on a product page your main keywords will be based around the name of your product. For a page selling a service your main keywords will be based around the name of the service, and probably the area you offer that service in to.

When it comes to things like blog content, it can get a little bit more complicated and you may even want to use keyword research to come up with topic ideas, rather than thinking of topics first and then trying to find keywords that fit.

It's important to include your keyword(s) on the page that you want to rank in search engines when people search for those keywords.

So try to make sure you include them in important places like page titles, as well as the content of a page.

However, all these keyword usages should occur naturally, don't try to stuff keywords on to your pages as many times as possible. It looks bad and it won't help you rank well in search engines.

You can learn more about on page SEO in our interview with the team behind WordPress SEO plugin Yoast.

The importance of technical SEO for small businesses

Technical SEO can sound off putting, but really it's just about making sure that search engines can easily crawl your site in order to understand what content you have and what search engine queries it's relevant to.

The good news is that if you're using a platform such as WordPress or GoDaddy's Website Builder for your website, then technical SEO becomes a little bit more straightforward as you don't have to worry as much about how your URLs are structured.

The bad news is that if you're not using one of those platforms and have a custom-built site, then your SEO may be lacking and you might need a full technical SEO audit to help you get up to speed.

Technical SEO is a huge topic and one that people spend years becoming specialists in, but here are a couple of quick tips to help you out.

First, site structure matters for both website visitors and search engines. Make sure you have logical, easy to understand menus and navigation bars. And remember, if a page doesn't have a link to it from another page site visitors can't find it and neither can search engines. (Don't go crazy with your internal linking though, there's no need to link to every page on your site from your homepage, for example.)

Secondly, site speed also matters for website visitors and search engines. Follow this guide to learn about how fast your site in, and what improvements you might need to make.

This introductory guide is a good place to start if you want to know more about technical SEO in general.

The importance of off-page SEO for small businesses

The other piece of the SEO jigsaw is getting your site and it content noticed, and hopefully attracting links.

Links have always been an important part of SEO as they act as signals to search engines that your pages are trusted, interesting and relevant to certain topics.

Attracting links to your site is a tricky business, a good place to start is by using content marketing. You can read about content marketing for small businesses in this guide.

Also, if you're running a business that focuses on a specific area such as a coffee shop, or a plumber, then you also need to think about local SEO. A good place to start is adding your business to relevant business directories such as Yelp. You can read more about local SEO in this guide.

Summing up

Hopefully you now understand why SEO is important for small businesses, and what you can do to start improving your website's SEO. To learn more about improving your website's rankings, check out this guide.

If you need more help, our SEO services are here to help you reach your customers.

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