The Importance of SEO for Small Businesses

Near my hometown, a shop opened that served great food, ice cream, and provided access to docks. It had lots of potential. The only downside was, it lacked a road. No kidding. Needless to say, the business didn’t survive.

If you think that’s ridiculous, consider the barriers in your website traffic. Is your team analyzing website traffic to understand the strengths and weaknesses in your digital marketing strategy? The importance of SEO for small businesses grows from visibility. Don’t you want to be seen?

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of adjusting your website to the algorithm of search engines. In plain English, this mostly means you have to use qualities in your website’s content that help potential customers find you. In other words, SEO is the best and most cost-effective way to manipulate website traffic, to connect with customers, and to boost search engine rankings over competitors.

Search engines organize information based on relevance. Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But Google can only do so much. The best way to appeal to online searchers is to appeal to search engines.

The organization of information balances quantity and quality. Google, being a machine, relies on certain qualities to help organize information. These qualities include keywords, website speed, and mobile compatibility. However, there are over 200 factors that play into Google’s algorithm for ranking websites.

If a website is well optimized, it has a better probability of being among the SERPs, or search engine results pages.

Why is SEO important for small businesses?

SEO enables you to create a user-friendly website, find potential customers and convert them, and build your website’s legitimacy. To do any of this, you must first understand your target market’s interests and vocabulary.

Both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses can benefit from search engine optimization. It helps eCommerce businesses to gain leads and convert them into customers, and then into returning ones. Brick-and-mortar businesses rely on local SEO to interact with their local marketplace and help direct customers to their physical store’s location.

Marketing (vertical) content

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SEO is necessary to small businesses’ online presence because without it, you’re throwing money at content that most likely goes nowhere. Targeting your audience is essential in marketing. Without SEO, your website is a needle in a haystack.

However, SEO also relies on more than a small business’ website and social media accounts. It is also greatly affected by offline marketing. In-person or in-store interactions lead to social media reviews, page visits, and other online interactions that boost SEO.


Keywords are phrases or terms that search engine users enter into the search bar. They’re boosted by volume, headers, image names, and tags. Adjust phrasing and use relevant keywords in order to help organize information and appeal to search engines.

With enough search volume, these words can be essential to developing content. By understanding the keywords that potential customers are using, you’re better able to target and relate to them, while also spotlighting your small business.

But beware: repeating keywords can only help boost SEO so much before it starts reversing. Too much repetition can affect the readability of a piece of content. Google also tends to flag websites for keyword jamming. Make phrases fit and make them natural.

Know your audience

Good marketing, or any marketing at all, requires an understanding of customers and what they want.

Keyword research helps to identify popular searches. You can then implement that demand into your content.

SEO directs traffic in order to benefit both small businesses and potential customers. When a business’ website is optimized, potential customers have an easier time finding what they’re looking for. That could land your business over a competitor, or at least some irrelevant search results.

Yes, content is important, but not on its own. A website’s content is a vehicle, picking up users from the Google terminal and dropping them off at Conversion-land or Customer-Loyalty-ville. And without keywords, content will have a hard time being found.

Building your brand

Nowadays, small businesses must invest in their websites to increase visibility, accessibility, and brand recognition. The website itself is a major part of your team.

When optimized, topics and vocabulary can bring in a lot of traffic. This traffic has specific reasons for searching for similar phrases and for clicking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

By publishing content that contributes to a particular community of interest, you build authority and legitimacy. The content is therefore your voice in the community. Not only does it attract potential clients, it also makes your business a legitimate source and a staple in the conversation. That’s how many small businesses build brand awareness.

Off-site SEO

But small businesses can’t merely build authority with hearsay or self-proclamation. Instead, they can enhance their off-site (or off-page) SEO. Off-site SEO involves, as you’ve guessed, your presence anywhere other than your website. Of course, these interactions will lead to the website and hopefully conversion.

Some off-site methods include backlinking, hiring social media influencers, and guest blogging. Off-site SEO is important because it seems natural to users. It helps so your brand is naturally associated with the market.

Backlinking involves a community of websites, all linking to and promoting one another. Build links to your site from other sites. This will develop your business’ reputability and direct traffic right to your doorstep. It’s also good practice to return the favor.

Backlinking not only highlights your investment in the community and research, it credits the sources you use and your own ideas. Similarly, getting published on a reputable blog or publication, or having an expert published on your business’ blog can promote authority.

Social media influencers work like sponsored ads or endorsements for businesses. As we know, famous people have insane mind powers that magically direct consumers.

Social media is one of the easiest and most direct ways for small businesses (without too much digital marketing experience) to boost local SEO. So get online and share.

Retail/etail content

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For small businesses, brand awareness and recognition may be amongst the hardest parts of marketing. It’s one thing to have customers recognize a business’ slogan or icon, but another battle altogether to have them recognize the business for its expertise and dedication to the business world.

Lead generation and conversion

ROI (return on investment) is the biggest benefit of SEO. Of course, it is an investment. Optimization takes knowledgeable staff and lots of time. Keeping up with SEO, algorithm updates, and keywords can be exhausting and require a lot of attention.

The process of optimization is constantly shifting and marketers have to adjust to it. In addition, SEO strategies can’t be effective over any short period of time. Strategies have to be researched and communicated amongst a team, then adjusted, and finally reviewed time and time again.

Analytics are a marketer’s nutrients. Without reviewing the success of individual content, there is no strategy. Small business owners shouldn’t be intimidated by the commitment that marketing requires due to the ROI and the many options for optimizing websites.

User experience

User experience is the reason for SEO. Not the other way around. That’s why search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, and why it’s important to keep up on. High-quality content will help users stay engaged, which will in turn help with ranking.

Above all, small business owners need to provide a positive user experience through their websites. Google recognizes user experience in qualities such as website speed and mobile compatibility.

Basically, Google is saying, “you have to go through me first.” Like getting your future step-father’s blessing. Best of luck!

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