SEO Basics for the Small Business Owner

SEO Basics for the Small Business Owner

You have likely heard the phrase SEO, or search engine optimisation, and you have wondered if it is some voodoo science, or it is actually real, and not just a snakeoil sales tactic.

What is search engine optimisation?

Yes, it’s real. In short, SEO is a process of designing or modifying a website (taking into consideration technology, content and structure) in order to improve its ranking for relevant keywords and/or keyword phrases within search engine results.

SEO seeks to make the website search engine friendly and more visible in SERPs (i.e. Search Engines Results Pages). The main aim of SEO is to attract targeted traffic, visitors and potential customers. A practice of SEO can consist of far too many elements, thus many SEO practitioners consider themselves being part of a more general field called website optimisation.

SEO basics are important

There are many ways people can find about your website. Some people just open their browser and type in the website address, some people visit their favourite catalog or social bookmarking site and visit various websites from there however a vast majority of traffic comes from most popular search engines, such as Google.

If your site isn’t SEO friendly and your content is not included in search engine databases, you are missing huge opportunities. It doesn’t matter whether your site contains content or information, offers services or sells products. Majority of people search for all of previously mentioned just via search engines. It is well known that a good SEO (or bad SEO) can bring (or damp) possible success.

You should remember that even though you do everything necessary for SEO, it doesn’t guarantee an overnight success. On the other hand, it won’t go unnoticed. Getting to the top slots in SERPs requires time and endurance however with the right approach and realistic goals there’s nothing that can stop you.

SEO can be a matter of few hours if you are aiming for rare keywords and phrases however it can take weeks or even months if you go for more frequent ones. The Internet environment is getting more and more competitive and with the right SEO you’ll have an essential advantage over rivals.

How search engines work

One of the most important truths about SEO is that search engines are not humans. Unlike humans, search engines view sites as a plain text. They don’t see images, fancy graphics and such. Search engines cannot appraise the beauty of your website. They are almost strictly text-driven and they observe a certain pattern. In order to deliver search results, they perform certain activities: crawling, indexing, processing, calculating relevancy, and retrieving.

Firstly, a search engine crawls the web and remembers what it saw. This is performed by a software called a crawler or a spider. Spiders follow the links they find and index everything they see. Considering how big the Internet is (billions of pages), it is impossible for the spider to visit your website each day or at least on a regular basis.

Sometimes the spider won’t visit your website for weeks and your SEO efforts won’t be rewarded however there’s nothing you can do about it. Crawlers tend to visit popular sites with lots of traffic more often than little ones so there’s a chance you will have to wait for months to see a difference.

Next step is indexing the pages. The process of indexing pages includes identifying the words and phrases that describes them the best and assigning the pages to particular related keywords. The pages are then stored in a database from where they can be easily retrieved. Note that it is important your web pages comply to web standards or else search engines might have problems indexing them. To make sure they get indexed correctly it is also recommended to dedicate some effort to all the SEO basics.

When a search request comes (somebody types something in the search engine and hits enter), a search string from the request is compared with the indexed pages in the database. It is probable that more strings contain the searched keywords (there are often millions of pages with similar keywords) and this is where the search engine starts calculating the relevancy of each page so it can deliver related and relevant results.

Many factors are taken into consideration (links, meta tags, keyword density and much more) in order to provide the most relevant results. This process is fairly complicated however needs to be finished as fast as possible. That’s the reason why major search engines are supported by massive server infrastructures providing giant computing power (e.g. Google platform).

The last step is retrieving the results (displaying actual SERPs).

Optimising the SEO basics for search engines

Basic ideas and principles are the same among all search engines though there are numerous more or less important differences. While working on the SEO basics for most search engines, you must be very careful to keep a cautious balance because different search engines reckon different properties are more important.

Moreover, search engines like Google or Bing are constantly modifying their algorithms, making them better and more reliable, so you must be prepared to swiftly answer these changes in order to keep your position.

Is SEO really that important?

Long story short – yes it is. Possibly the number one reason for SEO is greater profit. Companies with optimised and search engine friendly websites will notice a steady and continual increase in their earnings.

The truth is that SEO is a free method of driving more targeted visitors to your website yet it produces a quality and long-term increased traffic. More targeted traffic equals more page impressions, clicks, sales and so on – and that of course means more money.

About author

Andrew is the Managing Editor of Linksforce. As well as writing his own Australian business articles, he also oversees the guest writing team. Based in Brisbane, Andrew hopes to one day visit 100+ countries. He's currently at 34 visited.