The ABCs of SEO - The Essential SEO Basics for Small Businesses

The ABCs of SEO: The Essential SEO Basics for Small Businesses

About 68% of all online activity begins with a search engine like Google. Unfortunately, the majority (75%) of searchers never look at the second page. If you’re not ranking at the top of the first page, you’re not generating awareness.

You might struggle to increase website traffic, too.

Instead of falling behind the competition, consider using search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can help you learn how to get on the first page of Google. Then, you can generate more website traffic, leads, and sales!

Here are nine SEO basics you’ll need before developing your strategy. With SEO for websites, you can give your business the boost it needs.

Read on to learn everything you need to know to improve SEO rankings today!

1. Understand the Ranking Factors

Understanding SEO basics can help you determine how to get on the first page of Google. Otherwise, you might struggle to appeal to Google’s search engine algorithm. Your competitors could rank ahead of you on search engine result pages (SERPs) instead.

Learning how to improve SEO can help you:

  • Generate brand awareness and recognition
  • Increase website traffic
  • Generate leads, sales, and conversions
  • Improve your ROI
  • Rank ahead of competitors
  • Become a thought leader in the industry
  • Establish your credibility
  • Build brand trust and loyalty
  • Retain long-term customers

With SEO, your website will appear each time someone searches for your offerings. Then, they can click on the link to your website. Consumers will get a chance to explore your content and learn about your business.

Google’s search engine algorithm changes throughout the year, though. You’ll need to remain up-to-date with essential ranking factors. Otherwise, you might unintentionally use black hat SEO tactics.

Black hat SEO could get your website removed from SERPs. You’ll struggle to appear in front of consumers as a result.

Here are a few essential SEO basics and ranking factors you’ll need to keep in mind. 

Search Intent

Google’s search engine algorithm grows stronger every day. It’s now able to better understand the consumer’s search intent. Their search intent indicates what consumers expect to find during a search.

For example, search intent is sometimes:

  • Local
  • Commercial
  • Transactional
  • Informational
  • Navigational

Consumers might want directions to your business. Maybe they want to learn more about your products and services.

It’s important to learn as much as you can about your customers to better understand their intent. Otherwise, your content won’t appeal to their needs. You might not appear for their searches as a result. 


RankBrain is Google’s machine learning algorithm. Google uses RankBrain to gather data about consumers. Then, it uses this data to better predict the user’s needs.

Try to remain informed of Google’s RankBrain updates to improve SEO for your website accordingly.


As you work on these SEO basics, don’t forget your link-building strategy. There are three types of links you’ll need to consider:

  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Backlinks

Internal links send readers to other pages across your website. For example, you might send readers to another blog post or your contact page. Internal links can improve your clickthrough rate.

A strong clickthrough rate and dwell time can boost your SEO ranking.

Internal links can also help Google crawl and index your website content. It could have an easier time drawing connections between related pages. 

External links send readers on your site to other websites. For example, you might want to link to a study or statistics. Linking to valuable references can support any claims you make.

You could improve your credibility as a result.

Backlinks are essential if you want to learn how to get on the first page of Google. These links send readers on other websites to your site. 

Google claims that backlinks are one of its top three ranking factors. In fact, the more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it can generate. Over 66% of pages don’t have backlinks, though.

There are a few different ways you can generate backlinks. First, make sure you’re creating high-quality content. People will want to link to your content if it’s fresh and helpful.

Try the skyscraper method, too. Otherwise, start guest blogging on other blogs. Then, link to your site within the content to draw more traffic.


Google wants to provide its users with high-quality, unique, helpful content.

First, make sure your content appeals to the user’s search intent. Create content that answers the questions they’re asking. Otherwise, people might leave your website to find someone who can help.

If they leave without clicking around, your bounce rate will increase. A high bounce rate can hurt your SEO rankings. 

Google’s Core Web Vitals

Google wants to provide its users with the best possible user experience (UX). With that in mind, Google created its Core Web Vitals. The Core Web Vitals are a series of user-centric ranking factors.

Appealing to Google’s Core Web Vitals will ensure you create a positive experience for the visitors on your site. You can get started by:

  • Adding an SSL certificate for security
  • Improving the navigation bar
  • Remaining mobile-optimizing
  • Improving readability 
  • Speeding up page load times
  • Adding white space
  • Using better hosting
  • Using page caching
  • Optimizing images
  • Minifying CSS and Javascript code
  • Enabling browser caching
  • Eliminating unnecessary third-party scripts
  • Deleting unwanted code and files
  • Limiting embedded iframes and content
  • Setting fixed dimensions on images
  • Preloading custom web fonts

You can work with an experienced web design and development agency to improve your website. Updating your website with the Core Vitals in mind can boost your clickthrough rate and dwell time. Otherwise, visitors will leave, increasing your bounce rate and hurting your rankings. 

2. Know Your Audience

As you learn more about the SEO basics to develop a strong strategy, consider your target audience. The better you understand your audience, the more likely you’ll appeal to their intent.

Segment your broad target audience into distinct groups. You can create these groups based on psychographics and demographics like:

  • Pain points
  • Buying behaviors
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Location
  • Age
  • Education
  • Language
  • Household income
  • Marital status

Then, create personalized content with each group in mind. 

Once you know who your customers are, you can gather keyword research based on their interests and needs. 

3. Gather Keyword Research

When using SEO for websites, you’ll need a target keyword for each page or post.

First, determine what keywords your customers use to find your business online. You can use tools like:

  • Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • SEMRush
  • Answer the Public
  • Ahrefs

Focus on long-tail keywords (containing four or more words). Look for keywords that are posed as questions, too. Prioritize keywords with a high search volume and low competition.

Then, create a post for each target keyword. You’ll place the keyword within the:

  • URL
  • Page title
  • Image file name
  • Image alt text
  • Meta description
  • Opening and closing paragraph
  • An H1 header
  • Body text

It’s important to avoid keyword stuffing. Instead, sprinkle secondary keywords throughout the post.

4. Update Your Website

Over 50% of all website traffic is brought in through search. In fact, nearly 90% of people use the internet to find local businesses.

It’s important to note that people interact with brands twice as often on mobile devices. With that in mind, Google now uses mobile-first indexing. It looks at the mobile version of your website first to determine rankings.

If your website is slow, old, or lacking fresh content, your search engine ranking could drop.

In fact, conversions drop up to 20% per second of site load time, too. Before that can happen, consider making SEO part of your web design.

Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure your website is fast and optimized. Remember to update your website with Google’s Core Web Vitals in mind.

Before you start writing fresh content for your site, consider readability. The easier your content is to read, the more likely people will linger. You could improve your dwell times and clickthrough rates as a result.

You can improve the readability by:

  • Organizing long pieces of content into headers and subheaders
  • Writing with shorter sentences
  • Creating shorter paragraphs
  • Using bullets and lists
  • Avoiding jargon
  • Run your content through

Make sure your fonts are easy to read, too. 

5. Start Creating Content

Once you update your website, you can start creating fresh content for your blog.

Use your keyword research to create content that appeals to the user’s search intent. Focus on demonstrating your experience and expertise. You’ll also need to consider EAT as you use these SEO tips.

EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Appealing to EAT can boost your online credibility. Improving your credibility can help you increase website traffic.

You can appeal to EAT by:

  • Adding author names and short biographies to your blog posts
  • Showcasing your expertise
  • Backing up any claims you make using high-authority website links
  • Adding reviews to your website
  • Telling your brand story
  • Developing a personal brand
  • Connecting with influencers
  • Sharing your content on trusted platforms

Experiment with different forms of content, too. In addition to blog posts, try interactive forms of content like polls and quizzes. Videos are engaging and easy to consume, too.

You can also combine your blog posts into an eBook. Then, use your eBook to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter. You can use an email newsletter to increase website traffic throughout the year. 

Try creating long-form content this year, too. Long-form content can help you inform and engage your readers. 

Make sure to organize your content using headings and subheadings to improve readability. 

6. Go Local

As you work through these SEO basics, don’t forget to create a local SEO strategy. Local SEO will help you reach nearby consumers.

First, make sure to optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Your GMB listing will help consumers find your:

  • Business name
  • Website
  • Hours
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Consumer reviews
  • Products/services
  • Recent posts
  • Photos/videos

Keep your GMB listing up-to-date by creating fresh posts. Share photos and videos as well. If your contact information changes, update your listing.

Make sure your information matches what displays on your website. 

Ask your happy customers to post their reviews on your GMB listing, too. Customer reviews can improve SEO rankings.

Otherwise, create location-based content using regional keywords on your blog. 

7. Promote Your Content

Once you start using these SEO tips and creating content, make sure to promote it.

First, add social sharing buttons to your blog. Make it easy for people to share your content with others. 

Then, share your content on your own social media accounts. As people comment on your posts, comment back. Make sure to answer any questions they have.

Consider working with an influencer within your industry, too. Influencer marketing can help expand your reach online. You can leverage the influencer’s existing brand trust to boost your own as well. 

8. Track the Trends

Remember, Google updates its algorithm throughout the year. It’s not enough to follow the SEO basics. You’ll need to keep up with the latest SEO trends as well.

For example, you might want to consider:

  • Video content
  • Featured snippets
  • Voice search
  • Predictive search
  • Image optimization
  • Local search listings

About 71% of consumers use voice search to find something online instead of physically searching. Meanwhile, 20% of smartphone owners use their voice assistants several times a day.

Look for keywords that are posed as questions. Use that question as your target keyword. Then, create a brief answer at the start of your blog post.

Appearing for voice searches can help you appear for featured snippets, too. Featured snippets appear at the top of SERPs. You can rank ahead of competitors and increase website traffic.

9. Perform Regular Audits

Once you start using these SEO basics, review your data. Determine which posts are helping you increase website traffic.

Complete regular website audits, too. Look for broken links or outdated data. Update those links to improve the user experience.

Performing regular audits will help you catch potential problems before your rankings drop.

Boost Your Business: 9 SEO Basics for Stronger Rankings in 2021

Learning how to use SEO for websites can boost your online ranking. Then, you can generate brand awareness and increase website traffic. Make the most of these SEO basics and boost your rankings today!

Need help boosting your rankings? We’re here to help.

Schedule a free consultation with our team today to get started.