What Is SEO and How It Works for Small Business

Posted By: Wendy Navarro on June 27, 2021 
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If you're just breaking into the idea of digital marketing, odds are you're seeing a lot of information about something called "SEO."

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it's the effort that websites make to rank well in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs); and ranking well is a massive advantage for businesses. 

We're going to explore the process of search engine optimization and how to increase website traffic and improve search ranking through SEO best practices. 

Once you're finished reading, you can take the information and implement it into your marketing plan to use and boost your bottom line. 

Let's take a look. 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Let's start with the fundamental ideas of SEO. 

First, you have to recognize the importance of the search engine algorithm. This is the technology that Google uses to categorize and rank all websites in its archive. 

It's a very smart system that has incorporated the use of artificial intelligence to become even more efficient. Google's goal is to produce the most relevant search results to users with any given keyword search. 

Google has the search market cornered when it comes to search engines and remains the most popular search engine on the internet. Google's ability to distribute the most relevant information to the end-user creates a great online experience, which is why so many people use Google. As a result, there's not a lot of use optimizing for any search engines besides Google. 

So, search engine optimization might as well be called "Google optimization." Let's face it, when you go to search for a business, product, or service online we say, "Google" it, not Bing it.

The algorithm uses roughly 200 factors to determine which sites are relevant. Those factors change slightly all of the time, but the core pieces of the algorithm don't generally change all that much. 

If they do change significantly, the digital marketing community is on top of it and we will know well in advance. SEO is all about responding to those ranking factors and incorporating ways to adjust website content to match them. 

The Keyword Phrase

After the algorithm, the keyword phrase is the second most important factor in optimization. 

Keyword searches are what drives Google. You might have even made a keyword search to get to this website today. When we optimize, we do so in response to very specific keyword phrases. 

The results for "chicken recipe" and "old-fashioned chicken recipe" might be very different. Small shifts in the language used in the search box have a big impact on the type of results you'll get. 

When you're looking at things from the perspective of someone who wants to get web traffic, those shifts are very important. We have the ability to do "keyword research" that allows us to see who is searching what, how many people are searching it, and what kind of competition those search results have. 

In doing so, you create an angle on your target demographic. Optimizing for terms that don't reach your target audience is, more or less, a big waste of time. 

So, the basic idea behind search engine optimization is finding the right keyword to optimize for, then incorporating that keyword into the content that you create. 

Optimizing Your Pages

Once you've got the keyword selected, you can bring it onto the pages of your site. 

There are dozens of places to place that keyword, as well as a lot of different ideas on how to place them, how often to use them, and more. Not all optimization happens in relation to the keyword, though. 

The quality of the information, the length of the body text, the use of images, and the function of your website come into play as well. It starts to unfold into a pretty complex process. 

At one point in time, you may have been able to shoot up the rankings with a minimal amount of optimization effort. Now, though, there's so much competition and the algorithm is so complex that it takes some skill to see meaningful results. 

By meaningful, we mean results that will actually drive business to your site. Working your way from the 8th page of the results to the 6th page might not do too much. 

Finding yourself at the top of the first page, though, will definitely boost sales.

Content Creation and Keywords

The main pages of your website are the most important to optimize. Your home page, contact pages, and key product pages are where you want people to go. 

That said, it's hard to develop rankings without a selection of other content. In many cases, that selection comes from an active blog. The term "blog" can be misleading because it originated as a place for people to voice their thoughts and concerns about whatever they were thinking about. 

Now, however, businesses can use blogs as a venue to distribute information about their products and services. If not their products and services, they can give insight into the topics that surround their niche. 

The great thing about an SEO-optimized blog is that your keyword research will choose the subject matter for you. Blog content should be created in response to the keywords that you identify as the most promising. 

That way, you know people are looking for the information you're creating. You also know that there's a group of potential customers searching for that phrase. 

The Snowball Effect of Optimization

Once you start to see results on a few of your pages, you'll notice that other pages start to do better as well. 

This is because your site will pick up what's called "domain authority." This pretty much indicates how well your site is received in your niche, and how quality your content can be expected to be. 

The more people that visit your site and engage with it, the better you'll see yourself doing in the broad scheme of things. It takes time, though, especially if you're doing all of the work yourself. 

That said, the effort that you put into optimization will pay off in the long run. It's an investment that holds the opportunity for endless, free marketing. What's a better advertisement than the top spot of various Google searches?

When you see a site that lands at the top of the search, there's an inherent idea that the site holds some value. When you work your way down through various pages, though, you start to wonder if you'll even get any decent information from the sites you find. 

So, just because it feels like there's not much progress at first doesn't mean it's not working. Incremental improvements start to grow exponentially, and the end result is lasting rankings that draw new customers. 

How SEO Helps Small Businesses

Local SEO for small businesses is essential in this day and age. SEO spans deep into the way that people research, shop, and look for things to do. When someone needs something, what's the first thing they do?

They look up "(insert item) near me." When they do so, they tend to click on one of the first few results. They're even more likely to click results that are listed in the Google "snack pack."

That's the section of results that has photos, reviews, addresses, contact details, and more. It's a little display for the top-ranking websites in any area. Fine-tuning your SEO to reach a local audience can get you into those positions. 

There's not a lot of local competition, and an SEO agency can boost you into the top spots if there is. Improving your search rankings will expose you to a wide demographic of people in your area, and ignite interest in your business. 

The trouble is that it takes time and effort to improve your rankings. That's where an agency can come in. 

Working with an SEO Agency

An SEO team has the insight, experience, and knowledge to start improving your rankings right away. There are a lot of technical factors that Google uses to rank websites, and those are difficult to learn. 

That's especially true if you have the responsibility of running a business. Agencies don't have to deal with the learning curve and can start adjusting things right away. 

Further, there's an art to creating content that's well-optimized. It takes a lot of thought and direction that might not be obvious as you're just getting started out. Keyword research is difficult, and analytics are tough to monitor if you've got a lot of other things occupying your mind. 

So, an agency is an investment that saves you time, stress, effort, and increases your chances of growing the business. 

Want to Increase Website Traffic?

We're here to help you increase website traffic if you're ready to start working on a digital marketing campaign. SEO can boost small businesses' success a great deal, and it might not even take that long to start seeing those crucial results. 

There's a lot to learn, though, and we're here to help you through it. Contact us for more insight into what an SEO campaign can do, how much it costs, and more. 

Discover how your online business listings measure up. Contact us today 

Other articles you might enjoy:
Improve Your Organic SEO With These 10 Tips
What is Responsive Web Design?
Is Your Business Being Found Online?

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Wendy Navarro - Navarro Creative Group
Wendy Navarro is the Founder and CEO of NAVARRO CREATIVE GROUP, a marketing agency that helps businesses across a variety of market sectors to build their digital presence by providing website design, social media marketing, and consulting services. 

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