SEO Basics Every Business Owner Should Know

SEO information written on paper
This article goes over the basics of SEO for small businesses. It covers why it's important, how to get started and provides tips on how to stay at the top of search engine rankings.

15 Important SEO Topics

Do you want to grow your business? Search engine optimization can help with that. This article is for small business owners who are looking to improve their marketing efforts and generate more traffic in order to increase sales.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the basics of search engine optimization as well as some tips for improving your website’s SEO rankings. We hope these strategies will help you become a more successful company!

What is search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. In other words, there are things that can be done on a website that will help it show up better in web searches.

Small businesses often struggle with SEO because they don’t have the budget to hire an agency or pay for expensive software. Luckily, there are plenty of easy and frugal ways you can boost your website’s visibility in search engines on a small-budget!

Why is SEO important for my small business?

  1. SEO is important for small businesses because it helps them rank higher on search engines
  2. A higher ranking means more customers and greater revenue
  3. You can bet that at least some of your competition is using it… if you don’t understand and use these SEO basics, they will outrank you

Lots of businesses are using SEO to get people to visit their websites.

Industry leader ahrefs includes this revealing stat in their Top SEO Statistics: “SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media.”

Graph of long tail keyword usage

What SEO basics should every business owner know?

Optimize content on each page

Optimize the content on your site, including headings and content. How? By using keywords and phrases, meta descriptions (descriptions on your page), and heading tags. All of these highlight relevant content for the visitor’s search query. Even images can be optimized.

Extra credit: why content is the most important part of your website.

Add links out, and within your site

Outbound link building. Link out to authoritative sites in your industry. Use their information to reinforce your content.

An easy way to link out is to quote someone, and include a link to where you found the quote.

Inbound link building. Get links from authoritative sites to your own pages. Getting links back (called backlinks, or inbound links) can be harder… you’ll probably have to request links, at least at first.

Linking helps build credibility, in the eyes of the search engines.

Link to content on your own site. Don’t overdo it, but when you have relevant content, link to it.

Having Trouble Creating Content?

Take a minute to read our tips for Writing Blog Articles in 15 Minutes.

XML sitemap

Be sure you have an XML sitemap to help web crawlers find all of your website’s pages. If you’re not technical, you’ll have to ask your web design person about this part.

Here's a sample of a sitemap. Yours might look different.

On-page content optimization for SEO

“On-page” means things you do right here, on the page you’re optimizing. “Off-page” or offsite optimization happens elsewhere, i.e. not on your site at all.

Page title

Each page title should include the primary keyword you’re targeting for that particular page. In WordPress, you set these with the Page or Post title itself (although you can change it later).

Page address

Include the keyword in the page address, also known as the URL.

This is what a page address looks like
The page address appears at the top of the page. Every page has a unique address.


The headings on your page represent the beginning of a section of content related to the primary topic, so include a related keyword. The H1 tag is used once, like the page title; H2 and others can be used repeatedly. Search engines love these because they “announce” the purpose of the following content.

Page text content

Of course, the text on the page should include your keyword and related keywords. If you are writing quality content, related keywords will show up naturally as you flesh out your topic.

Get help with your content writing: we write high quality content for small businesses! 


Images should be optimized, too. Every image on the web has a title, and it can also have what’s known as “alternative text,” aka an “alt tag.”

If you’re writing an article about the best beaches on Cape Cod, and you include a picture of your favorite beach, the name of the beach should be included in the name of the image. For example, first-encounter-beach-sunrise.jpg.

You don’t see the alt text displayed to the public, but it’s important for times when the image isn’t visible. Sometimes people turn off images, and people who have poor vision might be using a screen reader. Search engines “read” the alt text, too. Using our beach example above, the alt text might be “beautiful sunrise at first encounter beach in eastham.”

If the image conveys something about the topic, then the alt text should state what it is.

Hidden, or off-page content

The “meta description” is another important “hidden” SEO item. Each page should have a description that summarizes the page content. Google will often take that meta description and display it, so make sure it communicates the value of reading the page.

Social Media and SEO

Does social media have an effect on website SEO? Yes. One thing for sure: when you post something on social media that sends people back to your webpage. You’re also building brand awareness.

Many Cape Cod businesses use social media to drive traffic to their website (inbound links). 

And social media posting doesn’t have to be hard!

Cape Cod social media expert Nicole Martelli Porter, owner of Monomoy Social Media helped a client build Pinterest views from a handful per month to over half-a-million! Get going on your social with her article (free!) “The 5 Pillars for Effective Social Media Content.”

Keep your posts easily readable. Short 2 sentence paragraphs and bullet points work well. If you have a long, chunky paragraph of text people will be more likely to scroll past your post and not take the time to read it. Grab their attention and draw them in with your first – show stopping – sentence. Stop the scroll & make it simple!

Schema and Rich Snippets will help business SEO

“Schema” is a specific type of code that can be added to a web page. You won’t see it, but search engines will. We have schema implemented on our pages, but it’s especially helpful for local, “brick and mortar” businesses.

Schema lets you show the search engines that you belong within a specific category, like restaurants, for example. 

From Google, “Google Search also uses structured data to enable special search result features and enhancements. For example, a recipe page with valid structured data is eligible to appear in a graphical search result, as shown here…”

recipe schema example from google

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