Ultimate Guide to SEO for Small Businesses

instruction manual, certified seo experts

Running a small business during the age of the internet is no easy feat. With constantly changing technology and the explosion of online marketing, it can be difficult and expensive to keep up with the times. Finding resources online that are specifically geared toward small businesses can be difficult, but look no further! Within this article, you will find the ultimate guide to SEO for small businesses that you have been searching for. 

We will go over SEO on the most basic level, for beginners, and without all of the complicated terminology. SEO does not have to be difficult, in fact it can actually be quite simple once you get the hang of it. 

What Terms Do You Need to Know?

When you are trying to teach yourself SEO, it’s important not to get too bogged down in specific and lengthy industry terms. This article is focused on giving you a basic overview, but there are many more specific elements to the process of SEO. 

You should remember that people work full-time as SEO Managers and SEO Strategists and many marketing professionals charge top dollar for their SEO assistance. 

You can come back and refer to this section as you progress through our guide and you absolutely do not need to learn all of these terms immediately. Think of this section as a glossary and refer back to refresh your memory. 

Keyword – a keyword is defined as a word or short phrase that sums up what content is about. 

For a store that sells hats for women, some keywords might be hats, hats for women, women’s hats, etc. 

Keyword research – keyword research is the process of searching and analyzing the success and popularity of keywords that are used online. 

This can be done through numerous keyword research tools online or you could hire a professional if you have room in your budget. 

Keyword stuffing – this is the act of overwhelming content with a particular keyword in the hopes of adding SEO to your website. 

Unfortunately, this practice is not efficient and only creates website copy that feels like spam. 

Internal link – internal links are links within content on a website that refer back to the website itself. 

These links can be anything from a product page to a content page or perhaps another article. 

External link – an external link is a link that directs to pages that are outside of the website. 

For example, if we were to include a link to a source on another website such as BBC or The New York Times. 

Backlink – a backlink is a link that is an external link but on a different website. 

This concept is a little tricky, but think about how we just mentioned possibly attributing a source, like BBC. If we were to link BBC on our website, we would be generating a backlink for BBC. In this way, backlinks are all of the links that other people include on their website that direct traffic to your website. 

Meta description – a meta description is a short paragraph (a couple of sentences) that tells a potential site visitor what your web page is about. 

These meta descriptions are meant to be short and encapsulate what your web page is all about. They should be less than 160 characters in order to be the most appealing!

Header – a header is a HTML reference for all lines of text that begin with ‘H’. This could be an H1, H2, H3, or even an H4. These labels look like this in HTML: <h2>.

When we talk about SEO, you will most commonly hear people refer to H2 and H3s. These headings are the most helpful to your search engine optimization, but we will go over that later!

Title – this is in reference to the title tag in HTML of an article or web page on your website. These labels look like this in HTML: <title>.

The Title for this article is ‘Ultimate Guide to SEO for Small Businesses’.

SERP – SERP is an acronym that stands for “search engine results page”. 

You are likely very familiar with SERPs. Any time you search something in Google, you are taken to a SERP!

Finally, let’s go over the most essential term that you need to know when learning about SEO for small businesses. 

SEO – SEO is actually an acronym that stands for “search engine optimization”, so when you see the letters SEO, know that we are talking about this phrase. 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Luckily, search engine optimization is exactly what it sounds like. SEO is the act of optimizing a website for search engines. When you hear that someone is “adding SEO” to a website, they are really just optimizing that website for search engines. 

Don’t worry, we’ll get to the specifics of how to do that later on in this guide. 

Why Do Websites Need to Be Optimized? 

Google is not omnipotent, contrary to popular belief, and search engines need to know what a website or website is in order for them to sort them. If you think about it, a search engine really is just a gigantic sorting machine on the Internet. 

Without labels, the search engine is not going to be able to find a home for your website. Adding SEO to your web pages is adding these labels to your website so that these search engines can properly sort your website.

These sorting factors result in something known as a “page ranking” which is a designation that your web pages will receive based on multiple factors. Let’s get into the specifics on how Google ranks pages in order to break this down further.  

How Does Google Rank Content?

Have you noticed that there are multiple pages of content that you can sort through when you Google a particular phrase or question? These pages are all sorted by Google in order of their ranking. 

There are two different ways that Google ranks content and these correlate to the multiple ways that you can add SEO to a website. 

These ranking factors are known as Authority and Relevancy and are determined by the algorithms that Google has. 

  1. Authority

Page authority is a statistic that is composed of the popularity of a website online. The word authority is used for this metric because it is assumed that popular web pages are useful web pages. 

  1. Relevancy

Search engines value relevance of content in order to keep the Internet organized. In this way, your website should give value to the keywords that it is ranking under. 

These two factors are analyzed by the algorithms of a search engine in order to place your content where the algorithm feels that they should be. 

This is a very important concept to understand about SEO. Search engines will not just reward you with a higher ranking because you use good keywords, you have to put work into your website to make your content appealing to prospective site visitors. 

How Does SEO Work?

Now that we’ve gone over how search engines rank web pages, let’s go over some of the different ways that you can add SEO to your website. Remember that adding SEO to a website is not just adding in a bunch of keywords and calling it good. There are many aspects to SEO that exist beyond keywords.

It is important to remember that SEO is not an overnight process and you should not expect to see immediate results from implementing SEO strategies for your website for your small business. Instead, you should expect to see slow and steady growth that will be long lasting in nature. 

You can add SEO to your website by researching relevant keywords, adding them to your website’s content, and gaining links from other websites that can secure your page’s authority online. As well, you can increase the amount of content that you post to help to improve these metrics. 

Let’s go over the specific ways that you can optimize your website for search engines as a small business:

  1. Adding Keywords to Your Website

This process is not as simple as you may think. First and foremost, you will need to perform keyword research in order to figure out what keywords are right for your website. 

The key to this part of SEO is to add keywords in a way that feels natural and organic. You will want to avoid keyword stuffing, but also try to increase the amount of times that you talk about what you do. 

You would be surprised to know that there are many small businesses that forgo the addition of their own defining terms in their website copy. 

  1. We Mean All of Your Website

Many people stop at step one when it comes to SEO, but this is the Ultimate Guide to SEO for Small Businesses. Your search engine optimization should not stop at optimizing the landing page of your website. Each and every page should be optimized properly, as well as the nitty gritty details. 

Other places where you should look to place keywords on your website to optimize for search engines are: 

  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Navigation
  • Meta Description

Here are some good general rules of thumb when it comes to optimizing each of these parts of your website:


Page titles are essential for both your page visitors and search engines. Google first looks to the page title to discern what a page is about. You will notice that when you search for a term online, the vast majority of the results on the first page will include that search term that you were looking for. 

This is to reassure online browsers that they are being shown what they are searching for. So, if you are trying to gain access to people that are searching for your main keyword, you should include that keyword in your page titles. 


Headings should include your keywords at least once on each webpage. These should occur in your H2 or H3 as these are the best locations for indicating what your content is about within your content. 

Search engines look to these headings in your content to understand what its goal is and so do readers. They signal that the content could be changing as you are moving on to a new section. These headings can also indicate that there is a variety of content on your web page and that a variety of people might be interested in it. 


You might not think of your navigation as a place where you should be inputting keywords and you might be right on that. However, your navigation is one of the top places for improvement on websites. 

You should aim to include keywords in your navigation if you are able to, but your first priority should be improving your navigation for ease of use. This plays into the concept of authority that we spoke about earlier. 

The more that people click through your website, the more clicks that you are earning. This tells search engines that your website is useful and provides content that they are interested in. 

First, you should take a look at how efficient and effective your navigation is and then you should look to add keywords to it!

Meta Description

This is such an underutilized piece of real estate when it comes to SEO! The meta description is a place where the search engine is asking YOU what your content is about and this is the opportunity to tell them!

Many people input some filler information about their business here, but you should be using keywords that are specific to the page that you are writing the meta description for. 

Remember that you should use no more than 160 characters when writing a meta description in order to optimize it for search engines. 

SEO Tools You Should Use for Small Business SEO

When you are first starting out with SEO as a small business, it can be easy to get caught up in tools. There are a wide variety of SEO tools and online gadgets that you can use in order to help with your search engine optimization. So much so that it can be hard to figure out who you should be listening to. 

There are a few SEO tools that stand out above the rest when it comes to search engine optimization. In this section, we will go over the best SEO tools that you can use for your small business. 

The Number One Tool for SEO: Semrush

Far and above other online SEO tools is the service, Semrush. Semrush has the unique ability to automate a lot of the processes and data points that you might need to look at when doing search engine optimization. 

What is Semrush?

Semrush is a platform that is usually used for keyword research and viewing keyword and website ranking data online. This tool is geared specifically toward marketing and is used by both small and large businesses in order to manage their online visibility. Some of the most widely known clients of Semrush include Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Forbes. 

In short, Semrush is the most popular tool and the most well-known tool for managing almost all aspects of online marketing. The platform has an incredible capacity for analysis and is also pretty user-friendly. Beginners in online marketing as well as experts can find value in the tools and data that Semrush has to offer. 

In this way, Semrush is a great option for small businesses and those that are new to SEO. 

How Does Semrush Work?

Semrush is a software that can help you perform keyword research. The software helps you by providing insight and awareness to which keywords competitors might be using. As well, Semrush can track the most popular keywords that are on Google and also provide pointers for improving your website. 

Through Semrush, you can see your organic web growth, start to generate ad campaigns, and gain easy access to professionally developed search engine optimization reports. 

To do this, Semrush uses its incredible database that contains over 20 billion keywords and Google data. Semrush can track the position of any webpage on Google search engine result pages and analyze competitor position as well. 

How to Use Semrush for Small Businesses?

So, now that you know some of the incredible things that Semrush can accomplish, how can Semrush help you as a small business? 

There are four main ways that using a tool like Semrush can help you with your search engine optimization and online visibility. 

  1. Help you to become more competitive.

By gaining an understanding of what your competitors are doing, you are better able to compete with them. In this way, you can use Semrush to help you develop a strategy to compete against your competitors directly online. 

Semrush is able to track what keywords your competitors are using, as well as their position in Google search engine result pages. This will allow you to directly compare yourself to your competitors. 

  1. Allows you to track your progress. 

When you are investing in online marketing as a small business, it can be easy to give up because you have lost sight of the goal. The truth is, SEO does not happen overnight. Instead, it takes months of development to see positive growth and results from search engine optimization. By using a tool like Semrush, you can help to avoid becoming discouraged by keeping an eye on the data. 

  1. Add value and visibility to your business. 

The human brain can only go so far when it comes to keywords. There is just no way that a business owner or online marketing expert is going to be able to compete against a database of over 20 billion possible keywords and their rankings online. 

Unfortunately, these specifics are better left to tools like Semrush, and they are effective! Semrush is able to supply you with recommended keywords that a human professional would be likely to miss.

  1. Improve your content on your website.

With the analytical tools that Semrush has, you can easily think of new ideas for content that you could add to your website. Based on recommendations from Semrush, you might find that there are corners of your niche that you are not yet touching. 

These keywords could inspire you to make new products or to write new blog posts on these topics to add to the content on your website. In this way, Semrush can really help to boost your SEO by keeping you inspired to keep improving the information that you put out online. 

What Features of Semrush Are Most Important?

The truth is, there are many valuable features of Semrush, but we understand that Semrush can look a little intimidating to new users. So, which features of Semrush are the most important to know about and use?

  1. Position Tracking

This feature is Semrush’s most popular and unique feature. Position tracking through Semrush allows you to look at the day-by-day rankings of a website and its keywords. In this way, you can perform keyword tracking, and domain tracking, and look at these data points by geographic location. 

You can also group your keywords into lists through this feature. There are also options where you can discover your competitors and view their tracking in comparison to yours, which is super neat for finding local competition. 

  1. Site Audit

The Site Audit feature on Semrush allows you to look at the status of your website. Your website can have hidden errors that you may not even know about, but Semrush does. These issues that you aren’t familiar with can actually have quite an impact on your SEO. 

By using these tips from Semrush’s Site Audit feature, you can boost your SEO and visibility by improving your website with their expertise. This is widely considered one of the most useful Semrush features because it has a high impact. Fixing these errors on your website is extremely helpful to your SEO. 

  1. Keyword Magic Tool

We know you’ve been waiting for it! This is Semrush’s keyword research tool that they are applauded for. The Keyword Magic Tool is how you access all of those 20 billion keywords in Semrush’s database in order to find the specific keywords that you should be using for your website. 

People consider this keyword research tool to be the most superior on the market. You can easily see how competitive the keywords are, how often they are searched for, and you are given recommendations for other keywords to use. 

  1. Keyword Alert

Keyword Alert is a nifty feature of Semrush that allows you to get notified when there are changes in the rankings of the keywords that you are using. When keywords go down in ranking significantly, you can easily be told that this has happened and start thinking of a way to adjust your strategy. 

  1. Traffic Analytics

Traffic Analytics is one of Semrush’s features that are more geared toward marketing than SEO, but it has great SEO benefits too. Traffic Analytics tells you where your web traffic is coming from, what they’re doing on your website, and if they are on mobile or a computer. 

You can perform market research through this tool to double check that you are reaching the people that you want to reach or not. There is significant benefit to your personal brand and business through this tool. 

How Much Does Semrush Cost?

So, with all of this amazing information about Semrush, you are probably wondering how much this program costs for you to use?

As far as marketing software goes and for all of its capabilities, Semrush is pretty affordable. Semrush offers a free trial, like most online software companies do. This way you can try out Semrush before committing yourself to a multi-month subscription plan. 

Its Pro version costs $119.95 a month, its Guru version is $229.95 a month, and its Business version is $449.95. 

What About Other SEO Tools and Options for Small Businesses?

Now that you’ve learned all about the number one SEO tool, let’s go over some other SEO tool options that might be helpful to you. 

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is less of a tool and more of a unique way to gain online visibility. You might not have thought about adding your small business to Google with a profile, but these listings can help you with your SEO. 

By creating a Google Business Profile and a Google My Business account, you can claim ownership of your online Google listing for your business. Once you have linked these two accounts together, you can then optimize your Google Business Profile with the keywords that you are using to help you with SEO. 

In this way, you can sufficiently optimize your Google Business Profile and make Google start doing some work for you when it comes to SEO. 

Local Falcon

Local Falcon is a tool that can help with local rank tracking. In this way, it can use Google Maps to help you determine how visible you are on Google Maps and if your local SEO is working for you. 

The unique thing about Local Falcon is that it was developed specifically for Google Maps. As a tool, Local Falcon uses your location to compare you to other businesses around you, not necessarily your competitors. 

This can be important because many businesses do not even show up on Google Maps and can be overlooked by people who are looking at a map of what is near them. Local Falcon can show by keywords and track organic rankings as well. 

There is value in using Local Falcon in order to view your rankings and understand them. The results are shown in a grid pattern on the map so that you can easily figure out if your local SEO is working for you!

Copy AI

Copy AI is an alternative to hand-writing blog posts, and articles, or writing a freelancer. This service involves AI writing that replicates human writing in order to mass-produce content. The capabilities of Copy AI can be quite impressive, as it can take some of the hours of time that you might need to spend on articles for your website off of your plate. 

If you need articles for SEO purposes on your website, considering Copy AI might not be a bad idea. There is a free plan which allows you to test the service, but otherwise, Copy AI will cost you $35 a month for the Pro plan. 

You can use Copy AI to write titles of blogs, ideas for blogs, and other types of writing that appear to sound humanlike, rather than it was written by an AI! Copy AI can also be helpful for email marketing, which you might want to consider implementing but may not have the time to. 

If you are in a pinch and can’t afford to hire a freelancer, Copy AI might be worth a try and can be very helpful to small business owners.


This concludes our comprehensive guide to search engine optimization for small business owners. Online marketing can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. You can use tools and online resources to help you research keywords, track website progress, and make improvements to your website. 

Through your new knowledge about terms, strategies, and tools, you should be able to start making the necessary changes to your website to start seeing improvements to your page rankings on Google. 

In conclusion, we hope that you have learned a great deal from our in-depth review of how you can introduce SEO into your website and content to increase your online visibility. 

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