What is SEO and Why is it Important for Small Businesses?

Search engine optimization is how search engines find & retrieve content

The reason SEO is important is because few people look beyond the first page of Google search results to find an answer to their problem. So every business owner’s goal is to rank high so that their content is shown first.

Before you can rank, you first have to understand the components of SEO as well as their primary functions.

Let’s start with the position you’re most familiar with and tell the story from that perspective: you’re an internet user and you need some information—a good local real estate agent perhaps.

You open up Google (a search engine) type in ‘real estate agents near me’ (your search query with the keywords ‘real estate agent’). The search engine receives this phrase and, within a few milliseconds, returns several pages of results (SERPs, or search engine result pages). Behind the scenes, these results have been carefully read (crawled) by the engine’s computer program (called a bot, crawler, or spider). The crawler’s job is to browse all the content on the web and file it (index it) into a database. Because the content is organized, your real estate agent results are delivered to you almost instantly. With the help of an algorithm, content is ranked according to a number of different factors that indicate both quality and relevance, and results are then displayed inside the browser window.

Now that you understand the basics of how Google works, let’s get into a few things that make your content friendly to the algorithms:

  1. Users want high-quality, relevant results to their search inquiries
  2. Search engines send web traffic to high-quality, relevant content
  3. The more publishers optimize their content to help crawlers and search engines do their job, the more traffic they’ll receive.

How can you improve your small businesses SEO?

Based on our experience optimizing websites, we’ve put together a few SEO tips and how you can put them into practice for your business.

Picking the right web platform

Rather than hand-coding websites from scratch, small business owners tend to rely on what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG tools) that make web publishing simpler. Drag-and-drop platforms, like Wix and Squarespace, are examples of this. When choosing a platform, make sure the load time is quick. Google dings sites that take longer than 5 seconds to load. Also, make sure there are places where you can insert on-site SEO cues like image tags, titles, keywords, and meta descriptions. This is what the search engines are crawling and looking for. If you use WordPress (a BrightGirl fave) make sure you have Yoast SEO plug-in installed so that you can do some on-site SEO. It’s an amazing tool that will help you gauge whether you are on target or not.

Keyword Research

This requires you to rethink how you approach keyword research. Think about how your customers would be searching for what you have to offer. Avoid industry lingo that laymen may not know or understand. Learn the lingo of your customers and use that as the basis for your keyword strategy.

Google has a free keyword planner tool that is awesome. You can do research to find out how often people are searching for your terms.

Optimize Your Images

Written text content isn’t the only thing that needs to be optimized for search engines, the images you place on your pages and blog articles also need SEO help. It’s not as hard as it may sound either.

Image files contain certain HTML tags and attributes that help search engines index them within databases.

Each image should have the following:

  • Title tags
  • Alt text (alternative text)

Adding these details to your image can help describe your image to users who have images disabled or who use a screen reader. Many search engines also rely on alt text and image titles for providing relevant results. Think Google images.

Now that you know why SEO is important for small businesses, let BrightGirl Media know if we can help you optimize your website. We understand some business owners are technophobes. This is why we exist – we love tech! Reach out for help. We’re just a call or email away.