SEO from Scratch: A Marketing Guide for Small Businesses


Small businesses looking to grow without the need to invest a lot of money in expensive advertising and marketing programs need to understand what SEO is, how it works, and how to do it. SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. It isn’t any one action or strategy, but a composite of several ways to make your business’s webpages rank high in SERPs (search engine results pages).

Many small business managers don’t understand what SEO is or how to implement it in their marketing strategy. But while there’s a learning curve involved, done well, modern SEO is a powerful tool which can offer a considerable return on the time you invest in it. Not least because once it’s done it’s a slow-burn, long-term strategy which delivers results for months and years to come without further investment.


What Makes SEO Such a Powerful Marketing Tool?

Over 90 percent of all consumers now go to a search engine, like Google, for information, advice, product descriptions, and reviews as their first step toward any purchase. Most of the words and phrases typed into the search box are questions. Well-constructed pages at the back end and high-quality information at the front end, push your business to the top of search results.

If you run a small business, you can think of search engines as offering you unlimited, free, highly targeted advertising. If your SEO house is in order, Google is your best marketing buddy. But when was the last time you looked beyond page one of the SERPs? Probably never. And no matter how niche your market, Google has to choose those top ten results from millions of competing pages. Done right, SEO gives you the best chance that it’ll choose your business to put in front of potential customers.


How Much Does SEO Cost to Implement?

SEO can be as cheap as free, but if you have a little money to invest, you can outsource some work and save time. But one beauty of SEO as marketing for the small business manager or “solopreneur” is that you can do it for nothing and it pays dividends years afterwards. Only you can decide the balance of resources, time and money you can invest.

If you’re building a site from scratch, you can implement SEO into your site design and content from the outset. If you already have a website you want to improve, you must do a site audit (or get one done) to find any issues that need fixing. But once you’ve got the technical aspects of your site in order, cleaned up the code, updated your metadata, and made sure everything complies with legal and industry standards, you must populate your pages with powerful, high-quality, search engine optimized content.

After the first body of work, you can check and update your SEO strategy in just a few minutes a day or less.  If you have the skills, or you’re prepared to learn them, it need cost nothing at all. Otherwise, you must commit to a small investment to get things set up. But whichever way you look at it, it’ll cost a lot less than any other marketing strategy with similar potential returns.


Positive SEO and the User Experience (UX)

Back in the 90s when the term SEO was first coined, you’d have heard that it was all about stuffing your content with keywords and building thousands of backlinks to your landing pages. But things have changed since then. Search engines have grown up and now understand what their main purpose is: to deliver the best experience to people using their service.

In the intervening decades search engine algorithms (the programs that figure out which websites to show in the SERPs) have become much more sophisticated. There are now two sides to positive, modern SEO. Make a well-coded, compliant, highly functional website on the back end and give a fast, useful, easily navigable experience to the website visitor on the front end.

So, what does that mean for SEO today? It means that a website should work well, pages should load fast, and the content delivered should be high-quality, useful, authoritative, and engaging. Look after that, and the rest should take care of itself.


The Simple Secret of SEO Success

You may think SEO is all about getting more traffic to your web properties. But from a marketing point of view, think again. A website drawing 100,000 monthly visitors may have a very low conversion rate. Another which attracts only 10,000 may turn most of those visitors into customers or subscribers. Despite having lower traffic, the second site will be the most profitable.

So, your SEO strategy should focus on drawing laser-targeted visitors to your webpages and giving them the information or product solutions that they’re looking for. That brings you back to high-quality content which answers your target customers’ needs.

That’s the simple secret of modern SEO: publish the best content you can create, tailored to answer the questions your target customers ask search engines. Do that, and not only your traffic, but your organic backlinks and site authority will grow naturally from user responses, such as sharing on social media and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Know your target audiences. Find out what they need. Deliver it. If you focus on the user-end experience, the search engines will notice that and push your pages up the SERPs. And a high ranking in the search engines will bring you a steady stream of potential customers looking for exactly what you offer. And that, in a nutshell, is modern SEO marketing.

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