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Getting Started with SEO for Small Businesses: A Beginner’s Guide


What is SEO and how does it work?

‘SEO’ stands for Search Engine Optimization. A search engine is a platform that scans the web for information relating to somebody’s search term – the most widely used being Google. The optimization part of the term refers to maximizing the quality and quantity of traffic that arrives at your website through search engines. 

You may be familiar with the concept of SEO content – creating content full of keywords with the purpose of generating traffic for your website – but SEO is much more than that. It also means paying attention to core web vitals like site speed, mobile user experience, and interactivity. Think about it this way: once you get people to your page, you want them to enjoy the experience and stay as long as possible, too! Plus, in 2020, Google announced that they are including these factors in how they rank pages.

Without further ado, read on for the low-down on how to execute SEO for small business websites. 

The benefits of SEO for small businesses

You might be wondering why your business needs SEO. Building an SEO strategy is a valuable practice for anyone, but the importance of SEO for small businesses cannot be understated. It’s a great way to generate organic growth without making huge investments in paid ads. SEO boasts three main benefits for small businesses: higher quality leads, higher potential conversion, and boosted brand awareness.

If you’ve been considering a bit of diy seo for your small business, you’ve come to the right place. There are many SEO strategies for small business articles and blogs. But most don’t go into the details of how to execute a winning strategy at a lower cost.

Beginning with this article, we’re going to show you some fundamentals that will help you improve your SEO performance in Google search results. We will teach you how to estimate and reduce the seo costs for your small business; we’ll show you keyword research tips and even how to do SEO monitoring so you can track how your efforts are working. 

Tools to track your SEO performance

Tools like Google Search Console (GSC) provide outstanding information to show you the search queries you’re ranking for and are absolutely free. We’ll cover this tool more in-depth in our next article on connecting Google’s free tools, but here’s a screenshot of the types of data you can expect from GSC.


If you’re looking for more comprehensive tools that provide a full end-to-end workflow for your SEO needs, Sage SEO could be a great choice. We offer a number of dashboards to track search performance, keyword rankings, and more.

Organic traffic leads bring in your ideal target customers much more effectively than paid ads

One of the main principles of SEO-generated leads is that those individuals are already looking for the solutions that you offer; you’re just jumping in to show ‘em what you got. Aka, you are fulfilling a need they already know they have. You don’t have to convince them that they have a problem or need a solution; you just have to convince them to pick you! And being one of the top results for their search is a great place to start. In fact, 60% of marketers state that their highest quality leads are SEO-generated customers for this exact reason.

how do you measure the success of seo campaigns
Source: Hubspot

SEO increases brand visibility

Showing up on the first page of Google for a highly relevant search term is a surefire way to be seen by customers. Achieving the top-ranking spot can more than double your click-through rate compared to the number two spot. This visibility generates a high volume of traffic, and by targeting the right keywords (keep reading to learn more about this), you’ll be generating high-quality traffic that attracts the right customers.

Plus, even if people don’t immediately click on your page, ranking for your keywords makes your brand highly visible and generates trust around your website as a resource for potential customers. They will build a strong association between your brand name and the solutions they need. This stands you in better stead for competing with other businesses and makes you more likely to be top of mind for the product or services you offer.

SEO creates the potential for higher sales and conversion rates

More eyes on your page and a fast, easy-to-use website compatible with multiple devices often translates to better conversion, aka your site’s visitors being more likely to follow your Call to Action and buy your product or service.

Plus, it’s practically vital if your competitors are engaging in an effective SEO strategy. If a customer has to decide between you and a competitor, and they see your competitor’s site and have no idea you exist, the choice is made for them. Put yourself in the running by creating an SEO strategy to rival other brands’.

How to start with SEO

Keyword research

Why is keyword research important?

Through keyword research, you can identify which search terms your audience is actually searching on Google, providing you insight on which ones to target and how to build your keywords strategy. There are a few factors to consider when selecting keywords.

Keyword research helps you find search queries that are easier to rank for and relevant to your business

What are three key considerations when evaluating keywords for search engine optimization?

1. Relevance
Google ranks content according to how relevant it is to the search term, so it will only rank your page for a keyword if, after scanning your page, it verifies that you meet the searcher’s needs. 

2. Authority

Google prioritizes sources it believes to be authoritative. The more you enrich your site with valuable content and promote it with backlinks on other authoritative sites, the more signals Google has that you’re an authority. This is why it’s sometimes best to target more niche or specific keywords, as their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will be less dominated by sites you can’t compete with (e.g. Financial Times, Mayo Clinic). That way, you have a better chance of ranking.

3. Volume

At the same time, you don’t want to go too niche. It’s all well and good to rank on the first page for a keyword, but if virtually no one is searching it, you’re not meeting the end goal of driving traffic to your site. Volume of traffic is measured in monthly search volume (MSV), and you can use this metric to determine which keywords are your best bet.

If all of this seems a lot to consider, there are SEO tools for small businesses, like Sage SEO, that will do most of the heavy lifting for you. Get started with this e-book on the basics of SEO.

On page SEO

Why on page SEO is important

Aside from creating SEO content, on page technical SEO is an important strategy for boosting your ranking on Google. This refers to taking measures within your website’s infrastructure to help search engines categorize your content and in turn, appear for relevant search terms. This involves three main site factors: technical optimization, content optimization, website structure, and design. 

What are three key considerations when evaluating your on page SEO?

1. Technical SEO optimization

This is the process of improving the technical aspects of a website to make it more visible and easily crawlable by search engines. This includes optimizing the website’s structure, performance, and content to ensure that it is accessible to search engines and can be easily indexed and ranked. Some specific techniques that may be used as part of technical SEO optimization include:

  1. Ensuring that the website has a clean and clear structure, with a logical hierarchy of pages and a clear navigation menu.
  2. Optimizing the website’s load time and performance to ensure that it loads quickly and efficiently for users.
  3. Making sure that the website is mobile-friendly, with a responsive design that works well on different devices.
  4. Ensuring that the website has a secure connection (HTTPS) and is free of errors or broken links.
  5. Creating a sitemap and submitting it to search engines to help them understand the structure and content of the website.
  6. Using clean, descriptive URLs and title tags, and including relevant keywords in the website’s content and metadata.

Technical SEO optimization is an important part of overall SEO strategy, as it helps search engines understand and index a website more effectively, which can lead to higher search rankings and more organic traffic.

2. High-quality content

Quality content is important for SEO rankings because it helps to attract and retain visitors, and it also signals to search engines that a website is relevant and valuable. When a website has high-quality, informative, and engaging content, it’s more likely to attract and retain visitors, which can lead to increased organic traffic and higher search rankings.

In addition, quality content helps to establish a website as an authority in its industry or niche, which can lead to higher search rankings. When a website consistently produces high-quality content that provides value to its visitors, it can build trust and credibility, which can lead to increased engagement and loyalty from its audience. This can also lead to increased backlinks from other websites, which can further improve your website’s search rankings.

As you create more relevant content for your target audience, your website visitors will increase and you’ll continue to build trust in your target audience. This leads to compounding benefits from each new article you post and a faster content marketing flywheel.

Recommended Reading – “The Virtuous Content Marketing Flywheel”

3. Great Website Design

Website design plays a significant role in SEO rankings because it affects how easily search engines can crawl and index a website. A well-designed website with a clear structure and logical hierarchy of pages will be easier for search engines to understand and index, which can lead to higher search rankings. On the other hand, a poorly designed website with a confusing structure and slow loading times may be more difficult for search engines to crawl and index, which can result in lower search rankings.

In addition to the technical aspects of website design, the overall user experience is also important for SEO rankings. A website that is difficult to navigate or use may discourage users from staying on the site for long periods of time, which can negatively impact the website’s search rankings. By designing a website that is easy to use and provides a positive user experience, businesses can improve their SEO rankings and increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining visitors.

The Importance of tracking SEO results to improve performance

Once you’ve developed your strategy, you’ll want to track your SEO progress to see what’s working best and to identify places where you can make improvements. The best part? Tools like Google Analytics make it simple and easy to monitor your site performance and see how your SEO efforts are paying off. But with such a wealth of metrics available, how do you decide which ones are most important?

There are five key statistics to pay attention to tracking your SEO performance:

1. Google Search Impressions

Search impressions refer to the number of times a website appears in the search results for a particular query. When a website appears in the search results, it is counted as an impression, even if the user does not click on the result.

Tracking search impressions in Google Search Console is important because it can give website owners insight into how their website is performing in the search results and how it is being discovered by users. By tracking search impressions, website owners can see which queries their website is appearing for, and how often it is being displayed in the search results.

In addition, tracking search impressions can help website owners identify opportunities to improve their SEO and increase their visibility in the search results. For example, if a website has a high number of impressions for a particular query but a low click-through rate (CTR), it may indicate that the website’s titles and descriptions in the search results are not effectively enticing users to click. By analyzing this data, website owners can identify opportunities to optimize their titles and descriptions to improve their CTR and drive more traffic to their website.

2. Organic traffic

This is the total number of visitors your site attracts solely through organic search. This helps you separate traffic that’s likely a direct impact of your SEO strategy vs. being accounted for by other marketing efforts. A good SEO strategy should see your organic traffic steadily increasing.

3. Clickthrough rate (CTR)

This indicates the percentage of searchers who actually click on your site after seeing it appear in search results. This metric is a good indicator of how effectively your page’s details capture the attention of searchers. If your page is ranking but your CTR is low, try creating more enticing meta titles and meta descriptions.

4. Keyword rankings

A large part of your strategy will be trying to rank for certain keywords, and this metric tells you how well you’re doing. You can do this manually for a few keywords, but it’s best to take a more comprehensive overview using a tool like Sage — a highly effective SEO keyword research service. 

5. Bounce rate

This metric represents the number of visitors who land on your site and leave without continuing to another page. This shows how much your site’s content aligns with what users expect when they click on your page in a list of search results. A high bounce rate could be a sign that you’re targeting the wrong keywords or that they’re just too vague.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it! Search Engine Optimization can seem daunting at first, but once you break down the various components, building a website with SEO in mind becomes relatively straightforward. Now you’re well on your way to taking your small business to the next level! Don’t forget to download Sage’s free guide to the basics of SEO to help you get started.


I try to publish 2-3 articles a week on content topics like this one. My focus is on helping small businesses and startups achieve front page search rankings, no matter the size of your business or your online presence.

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