Small Business SEO: The Complete Guide

Christy Walters


June 18, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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Organic content gets 8.5x more clicks in the search engines than PPC ads. However, less than half of small businesses invest in SEO. That’s a shame because investing in a solid SEO strategy can take your small business to the next level and keep you one step ahead of your competitors at all times.

What Is Small Business SEO?

SEO for small business refers to optimizing your website for higher search engine rankings. There are several ways to get your website to rank better in search engines. An integral part of small business SEO is creating high-quality content that will attract inbound traffic, but SEO goes far beyond that.

How SEO Benefits Small Businesses

When done right, SEO can bring in a never-ending stream of free, organic traffic. That’s the main difference between small business SEO and paid advertising.

To sustain your traffic flow from paid traffic, you need to keep spending money. As more competitors enter the market, bidding often becomes more competitive. Rates can go up, forcing you to raise your bids so you can maintain a positive return.

SEO doesn’t work like that, however. The better you establish yourself in the SERPs, the harder it will be for a newcomer to outrank you. Part of the reason for that is two significant factors in Google’s ranking algorithm are website age and website size.

The older your website is and the more content you have across your site, the better it will rank. In addition, as time goes on, you will attract more natural backlinks, which will help you keep your ranking positions.

Why Does Your Small Business Care About SEO?

Here are just a few reasons why your small business needs SEO:

It Improves Your Bottom Line

Organic traffic is free traffic. You don’t have to pay for each click, resulting in more profit per click.

Of course, SEO has its costs, including hosting, website design, keyword research tools, content creation, and content syndication. However, expenses are generally minimal compared to paid PPC ads.

SEO is also more sustainable than paid traffic, for reasons touched upon above. In the long term, relying on paid traffic may prove unsustainable, especially if ad prices go up significantly a few years from now.

It Builds Trust

Many search engine users are suspicious of paid search engine ads. There’s a reason organic content gets so many more clicks than paid ads. That’s because advertisers have clear agendas and want to sell something, while users perceive organic content as helpful and informative rather than simply promotional.

SEO can allow you to build better, longer-lasting relationships with your visitors, even if they don’t buy something right away. For example, you can get them to sign up to your email list so you can continue marketing to them for months or years on end.

It Improves Your Branding

Getting high search engine rankings will help improve your brand. When someone searches for topics related to your niche or city and your business shows up, it will strengthen your overall brand image.

That’s especially true if you show up across multiple searches relating to your industry. People tend to trust high-ranking websites and businesses more. The more you rank for keywords in your niche, the more brand awareness you will generate, even if users don’t click on your website every time.

It Allows You to Get More Conversions and Repeat Customers

Not everyone who lands on your website will become a paying customer right away. It often takes a few exposures until people trust you enough to spend money.

That’s why SEO is so important. When you rank for more keywords, you will get more exposure and people will find your website a second or third time. In addition, existing customers will find you again and may purchase from you again.

You Can Get More Sales and In-Person Visits

If you run a local business, whether it’s a mom and pop store or a chain with multiple local branches, SEO can help drive physical visits and in-person sales. In fact, 72% of people doing a local search visited a store within 5 miles after searching.

Is SEO Right for Your Small Business?

Almost all small businesses will benefit from a robust SEO strategy. SEO is right for your business if your goal is to drive more traffic, attract more leads, and generate more sales.

How To Begin SEO for Your Small Business

Beginning small business SEO starts with understanding your goals and creating a road map to reach those goals. How many visitors do you want to attract per month? How much are you willing to spend to get that?

You should also conduct an SEO audit of your site to discover SEO issues that can be addressed.

Small Business SEO Tools

Here are some of the best SEO tools for your small business:

SEO Statistics to Know for Your Small Business

Here are some pretty mind-blowing SEO statistics you should know about:

When to Begin Your SEO Journey as a Small Business

The best time to start your SEO journey is right now. It’s never too early or too late to get started with SEO. No matter when you start, SEO brings tangible results.

How To Identify Quality SEO Strategies for Your Small Business

Not all SEO strategies will work. Some strategies, such as building link farms, are not good SEO strategies.

Follow blogs like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal for updated white-hat SEO techniques that work. Avoid low-quality or black-hat SEO techniques. Anything spammy can get your website penalized.

Quality SEO strategies will revolve around content creation, content syndication, keyword research, and on-page SEO.

Understanding the Foundations of SEO for Your Small Business

Small business SEO isn’t that much different than regular SEO unless you operate a local business. In that case, you’ll need to focus on strategies specific to local SEO. This section will discuss the foundations of SEO for small business.

You can do small business SEO yourself, but professional SEO services for small business can help you get results quicker. Here are the top SEO services for small businesses that an SEO agency can provide.


In addition to writing content, you need to optimize it for the search engines. That includes using your keyword naturally throughout the article, including in the title and subheadings. You should also optimize the meta title and description for the search engine results.

Other on-page SEO optimization techniques include compressing images, using keywords in the alt text of images, optimizing the URL, adding inbound and outbound links, and more.


Off-page SEO refers to SEO techniques and strategies deployed off the website. It usually includes content syndication to get links back to your website.

High-quality backlinks from influential sites will help your website rank higher. While backlink quantity is less important than it used to be, due to Google algorithm updates, high-quality backlinks still affect rankings.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO can include submitting sitemaps to Google to ensure your pages get crawled and fixing redirects and broken URLs.

Site user design also plays a significant role in SEO. Websites that are clunky, load slowly, or are not mobile-responsive will get demoted in the search engine rankings. Optimizing your website’s UX can include:

  • Designing a better menu.
  • Using a better template.
  • Reducing distractions, such as annoying pop-ups and self-playing videos.
  • Optimizing your website for mobile devices by using a mobile-responsive template or implementing Google AMP.

You can also speed up your website by:

  • Using a faster-loading theme.
  • Using fewer plug-ins or code-heavy plug-ins.
  • Compressing images before uploading.
  • Embedding videos as opposed to storing them on your site.
  • Using a CDN or implementing caching.

Local SEO

Getting a local business to rank for local searches requires implementing unique strategies and techniques. That’s because you need to target local keywords, such as “best plumbing service in New York City.”

You also want your company’s Google My Business profile to show up in local searches.

Local SEO can involve the following strategies:

  • Local keyword research.
  • Syncing company information (name, address, phone number) across all appearances online.
  • Getting listings in local directories and online yellow papers.
  • Getting links from those listings.
  • Optimizing your Google My Business listing, Yelp listing, Apple Maps listing, etc.
  • Getting reviews on your local listings.
  • Optimizing your Facebook page and social media profile.

eCommerce SEO

eCommerce SEO involves using buyer-intent keywords and optimizing the product title, description, and tags. You also need to use high-quality product images. Publishing blog posts can help your product pages rank as well.

Reporting and Analytics

An SEO agency can make use of detailed reporting and analytics to get you the best results. Using analytics, they can figure out:

  • Which content performs best
  • Which headlines get more click-throughs on Google
  • Which keywords are ranking the best
  • Which keywords bring in the most conversions
  • Where your backlinks are coming from
  • Whether there are bad backlinks that you must disavow
  • Where in the world your visitors are coming from, so you can optimize content for them
  • Visitor intent

An SEO agency for small businesses can also use A/B split testing to get higher converting and higher-ranking blog posts.

Building an SEO Strategy for Your Small Business

Before you get started with SEO, you need to have a clear plan. Here are the steps to take for building a small business SEO strategy:

  1. Start with an audit, using tools like UberSuggest.
  2. Figure out whether your content is performing well, and, if not, what needs to be improved.
  3. Conduct keyword research and create a list of keywords to target.
  4. Create a plan to schedule long-form blog posts on a regular basis.
  5. Create a content syndication outreach plan.
  6. Monitor your rankings and keep an eye on your competitors.

How to Partner With an SEO Agency for Small Businesses

Before partnering with any SEO agency, ask for a consultation. That will give you a sense of how professional they are and whether they truly understand your needs. You can also ask for referrals.

Why Hire an SEO Services Company?

If you can do SEO yourself, why hire a small business SEO company in the first place?

The truth is that while hiring a small business SEO company involves an initial investment, it will pay off well in the long run. Learning how to do SEO almost always requires a learning curve. Since algorithms are constantly changing, you can’t always rely on online courses or blogs for updated information.

Here are some of the main reasons to hire a small business SEO company as opposed to doing SEO yourself:

Save Time

Hiring a small business SEO company will allow you to save time and energy. You’ll be able to invest that time and energy into other pending business matters.

Be More Efficient

Not only will you have more time to do other things, but you’ll get results quicker. A small business SEO company will have the necessary expertise to get you more immediate results. While nothing is guaranteed when it comes to SEO, there are tried-and-tested methods proven to work, and an SEO agency will know which ones are right for you.

Find Long-Tail Keywords

As mentioned earlier, a good keyword needs to have a high monthly search volume while not being too competitive. Unfortunately, such keywords can be hard to find in a competitive market.

However, an experienced SEO agency will have access to the right tools to find long-tail keywords not targeted by other websites. Those keywords are like hidden gems; you just need the right tools to find them.

Adapt to Algorithm Changes

While major algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda usually hit the news, more minor algorithm updates aren’t always officially announced. Sometimes, they’ll get less coverage, causing you to miss them.

An experienced small business SEO company will use reliable sources to stay up to date on any algorithm changes, allowing them to adapt their SEO strategies as needed.

Get More Sales

Not only can an SEO company attract more traffic, but it can attract more targeted traffic. That includes people with buyer intent. Not everyone searching for information is interested in buying something, but many are, and targeting those with buyer intent are can boost your conversion rates.

What Will an SEO Services Company Do?

An SEO company will determine your needs and create a plan to help you reach your goals. This plan will be customized to your small business. Some things a small business SEO company might do include:

Content Creation

High-quality content, published frequently, is the backbone of any dependable small business SEO strategy. Without high-quality content, your website won’t rank as well. Landing pages won’t get your website to rank in the search results, but blog posts will.

Blog posts need to be informative and valuable. It’s best if they are longer rather than shorter. Blog posts that are only a few hundred words long can still rank, but longer content tends to rank better.

Your blog posts should have images, videos, or infographics. They should be easy to read and skim through. Most of all, they need to be written with the reader’s needs in mind.

Keyword Research

While posting high-quality content is essential, you should also be targeting the right keywords to increase your chances of getting traffic. A good keyword will have a high number of monthly searches. Ranking for a low-volume keyword won’t bring in as much traffic.

However, some keywords are very competitive. That’s why you need to focus on keywords that also have low competition. Many keyword tools will give you a ranking difficulty score to help you determine how easy it is to rank for any particular keyword.

Competitor Research

Thorough competitor research can help you stay ahead of your competition at all times. For example, an SEO agency can research:

  • Which keywords your competitors are using.
  • Which websites they’re getting backlinks from.
  • What kind of content is ranking best for them.

You won’t be copying your competitors. Instead, your SEO agency will learn what strategies your competitors are using and outdo them. For example, they can create better content that is more thorough than all your competitors combined.

Questions to Ask During an SEO Service Consultation

Here are some questions to ask during your consultation:

  • What is my website lacking?
  • Why am I not seeing the results I want?
  • What can you do to change that?
  • Can you come up with a long-term plan?
  • How can you help me outperform my competitors?
  • Will you be able to provide me with reports showing improved results?
  • How much does SEO cost for a small business?

Small Business SEO Tips for the Time-Strapped Entrepreneur

If you’re a busy entrepreneur, SEO can seem to take up too much time. The best advice would be to hire an SEO company who can provide professional small business SEO services. Outsourcing content creation, content syndication, competitor research, and analytics monitoring is the best way to help your business achieve success without too much time.

Small business SEO success does not happen overnight. It requires dedication and persistence. That’s why it’s so important to have a professional small business SEO company taking care of your constantly changing SEO needs. Creating a solid SEO foundation now will lead to long-term success in the future.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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