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SEO 101 for small business owners

SEO 101 for small business owners

Let’s assume that you’re a small business owner. That you have a website (or a webshop) that needs better SEO. And that you’re just starting to learn about SEO. What do you need to know?

For starters, SEO means (quite literally) that you’re going to optimize your website for search engines, e.g Google, Bing and the like. But what does that actually mean?

The concept of SEO

Of course, it means that you’re going to make dozens of changes to your website, but this blog is not about that. We think it’s important to really understand the concept of SEO, before you start following random tips thoughtlessly.

We’ll help you do that by looking at the four stakeholders in SEO: you, your clients, your competitors and the search engines (we’ll focus on Google).

Why do small business owners want SEO?

This one is pretty easy. Your line of thought is probably something like this: you want to grow your business and for that you need more clients. There are several ways to hunt for leads and clients, but your website is probably an important tool in most of these.

So, what you want is more traffic to your website. Of course you can also pay for traffic using advertising and maybe you do that too, but in the long run growing your free, organic traffic is probably preferable.

In order to get that click via Google you’ll have to offer the content that your leads or clients are looking for.

What your clients want: search intent

What do you want when you do a Google search? You’re probably looking for an answer to a question. Whether it’s ‘when does the new season of Stranger Things start’ or ‘how to replace a tire’ or ‘best Thai restaurant in Amsterdam’.

One time you’re looking for a quick answer, another time you’ll want a detailed explanation or a list of options to choose from. Sometimes a product or service could be an answer to that question.

That’s when you, as a business owner, will want your website to come up in the search results. Improving your SEO starts with figuring out what those questions are for your business.

Your competitors want ‘your’ traffic

Of course you’re not the only one looking for more organic traffic, so are your competitors. But the more tricky question is not what they want, but who your competitors are in SEO.

If you run a small business, like a hair salon, a restaurant or a marketing agency, there probably are a few dozen of similar companies in the surrounding area that you’d call your competitors. In SEO you’ll have a lot more than a few dozen, most of the time.

Check out the SEO competition

That’s because you’re not so much competing with other companies, your competing with other webpages. Just run a Google search (on a desktop computer) for one of your products or services and see how many webpages the search engine finds for that search term, that’ll be thousands or sometimes even millions.

There will be webpages from blogs and news websites in these results, social media pages and business directories. A lot of these websites will have high rankings, which makes them harder to compete with.

SEO go local

This is why, in most cases, it’s such a good idea to focus your SEO efforts more locally: that is, on search terms that contain the name of location, e.g. a city, town, village, neighborhood of even a county. Because you’ll not only have way less competitors, it’s also way easier to be more relevant in the eyes of the search engine (because, well, you are).

What does Google want?

“Google just wants to make money”, is what you’ll hear a lot when it comes to SEO. And they probably do (who doesn’t?). But that doesn’t mean they don’t care about quality. The folks at Google understand that people will only keep on using their search engine if it gives them the answers they are looking for.

That is why Google’s algorithm is actually designed to find the most relevant, well-written and easy to read content for a specific search term. It helps to keep that in mind when you’re making SEO plans for your website.

SEO is plain hard work

The bottomline is that SEO is a complex game with many stakeholders. If you play it right, it can truly help you get a lot of traffic to you website. But there are no easy shortcuts, no dirty tricks and no ‘magic code’ that will put your website on top of the rankings. Only plain hard work – in other words: creating a lot of great content – will help you beat the competition.

Of course, our WordPress plugin SEO Generator, can save you a lot of time while creating that content.