The Beginner’s Guide to Basic SEO Best Practices for Small Businesses

Can small businesses rank in search results? Of course, they can.

SEO is the gateway to small business growth. Though it is essential for any company, it is fair to say that SEO carries much greater importance for small businesses.

SEO indeed takes time, and sometimes hiring experienced SEO specialists may exceed your small budget when you are just starting your business. But in fact, this often overlooked and underestimated opportunity is the way to outrank larger businesses and generate the leads you need.

Not knowing where to begin, what exactly SEO is, and how it can help a business, the great majority of small business owners tend not to pay attention to their SEO strategy.

At first, competing with market giants through SEO may not sound like a goal that can be achieved. That’s why hesitant small business owners gravitate towards spending their last dime on paid advertising. The thing is relying on premium advertising channels is something a small business can not come through. Trying to rank for search terms that have larger search volumes and CPCs hardly brings any value and it’s nothing but a waste of time and money for a business of a smaller scale.

So now we know SEO is the way to go when you don’t have any clients or traffic yet.

In this article, we will cover cost-effective SEO practices and basic strategies that will keep you active and help you grow.

You probably know that Google uses algorithms and complex standards to rank websites. The quicker you make sense of these ever-changing combinations and modifications the faster you’ll see the results.

Let’s have a quick look at the basic SEO practices:


Do your “keyword” research

If SEO were a building, keyword research would be its solid foundation. In that sense, niche and small businesses can make use of tailored keyword research and long-tail keywords in particular. It is a way to understand your potential visitors’ behaviors and act accordingly to reach more people. Determining the terms people are searching for will guide you as you’re just starting to work on your content.

While doing keyword research you can work simultaneously with your sales team as they also have an understanding of your potential clientele’s search intents. When determining the right keywords, avoid highly competitive and high volume keywords.


Don’t ever predict keywords and make assumptions during your research. The ideal keyword research strategy should be the answer to these questions: “what exactly your prospects are searching for” and “how many of them are searching for your focus keywords”.


Grow your online authority

Getting a reference link from high-quality websites is another crucial factor that affects your scores. Remember that there are many ways to build backlinks, and often those ways can be quite risky for your business. That’s why, while working on your strategy, you should always be aware of the practices that can cause an SEO penalty from Google.

To start with the backlink building, you should prepare a roadmap for your efforts first. Don’t forget that it doesn’t happen overnight. Backlink building takes time and you would better make this happen in a long period to avoid drawing attention to yourself.

Keep in mind that your backlinks and anchor texts should always look natural. The best way to achieve this is to provide value to the audience.

This is when writing quality and informative blog posts kick in. To provide value to your audience, you should invest in your blog. After a while, you’ll see that your content is shared or referenced without even trying.

Don’t try to get too many backlinks at once. And don’t try to buy your way out. 

Optimize your meta descriptions 

Meta descriptions are the HTML attributes that summarize a page’s content. Even though there is no direct benefit for your website’s on-page or off-page SEO considering that they are not used in Google’s ranking algorithm, meta descriptions are still crucial as they are the first content pieces that give potential visitors an idea of what your business is about even before they click on it.

For this reason only, optimizing meta descriptions plays a vital role in on-page SEO and will eventually help you stand out in the crowd. 

Update your content regularly

After keyword research, you should focus on your content. A common mistake here would be getting ideas from your competitors’ websites or copying their content directly with minor edits. During the planning process, it is a great idea to look at what your competitors are doing to get a better understanding of your market. However, you should be careful about your pattern as too much inspiration from the competitors may result in Google penalties.

To outrank competitors, keep your content long and high quality. Using your brand voice, integrate your findings into your website content, focusing on low competition but high volume keywords. Distribute your target keywords evenly and smoothly in your content and your URLs, H1, and H2s.

Be social

Use social media actively by creating niche content for each platform. Understand your audience well. If they’re primarily on Instagram, use it. If they use Pinterest, focus more on creating Pins for your audience. When it comes to engaging with your audience, every effort is connected.

We talked about the importance of creating quality blog posts. This step is where you spread your content pieces and increase your traffic.

Even if your social media efforts don’t have a direct impact on your SEO, following a well-established social media pattern will help you catch the attention of Google but only in a good way.


Mobile Optimization is a must

This one is a big deal. Small businesses with mobile optimized and responsive websites go way further than those who underestimate the power of it. The mobile-centric attitude has skyrocketed in the past years and now mobile device usage is a lot higher than desktop. That’s why working on your mobile SEO by primarily implementing responsive design and creating mobile-friendly content is necessary for your growth.

To provide a positive, mobile-friendly experience to users, keep your mobile content interesting, brief, and to the point. You are more likely to engage with your audience on mobile, that’s why implementing a thorough mobile SEO strategy is a must.

Always remember that many of your potential customers are using their mobile devices to find your content. With that said, your overall mobile SEO strategy should focus on understanding your user behavior and optimize your website accordingly.

When it comes to making sense of your users’ experiences and preferences, guessing is not the ideal approach. Instead, you can try to get a glimpse of their minds and their suggestions for improvement using popup surveys or on-page mobile forms.

Depending on your progress, you can modify your feedback questions accordingly and get a better idea of whether you are building your website in the right direction, or not.

When to expect results? 

To wrap it up, with a piece of basic SEO knowledge and a steady strategy, even a small business can make a huge difference and outrank its bigger competitors. Just don’t forget that it is a work in progress and your website will not improve overnight.