What Is SEO and Why It’s Important For Small Businesses

May 23, 2018
SEO scrabble letters

I often talk about SEO on this site, and a lot of the time when I mention it to clients they look at me with a blank face. In this post I’m going to give a basic overview of what it actually is, and why it’s important for your online business.

A Quick Definition

SEO = Search Engine Optimisation

Webmasters carry out SEO on their websites with the goal of ranking higher in search results. This results in more organic traffic (non-paid traffic). The more free traffic you can get from search engines the better. Who wants to pay for traffic?

Advertising in Google search results using PPC is constantly increasing in cost as more advertisers use the Adwords platform and competition in general increases. Some keywords will cost you upwards of £5 for a single click. A well ranking website could receive hundreds of these clicks for free through the powers of SEO.

SEO is therefore clearly something small businesses should be investing time and resources into.

The two types of SEO

There are two types of SEO that you’ll hear people talking about:

On-page optimisation — optimising the website’s content and structure

Off-page optimisation — essentially boils down to getting other sites to link to your website

I’m going to give a brief overview of what these two types actually mean.


On-page SEO is all about making it easier for search engines to understand your website’s content properly. There are a list of steps you should be taking to allow search engines to fully understand the content and relevance of your site in relation to certain keywords, and then rank it accordingly.

For people who know their way around building websites on-page SEO is the easiest part of SEO.

Take this blog post for example, I have a plugin that is telling me how to improve my on-page SEO as I type. It is currently recommending that I improve the readability. I also haven’t yet provided a meta title or meta description.

This makes on-page SEO easier and more accessible for anyone do carry out.

A poorly optimised site leaves the search engine bots unable to make sense of what the page is really about. They will be left unable to even consider ranking your site for certain keywords, as they won’t know that your page is relevant to those keywords.

Speaking of keywords, I’m going to quickly define a few more words I’ll be using.

Keywords — if you search for ‘buy new cars’ in Google, that is a keyword. Search engine bots crawl your site and determine what keywords your site is relevant to. For example, this blog post could be considered to rank for keywords such as: what is SEO, on-page SEO, what are keywords, etc.

Backlinks — I mentioned off-page SEO is in part about building links to your website from other websites. These are referred to as backlinks. If I link to Google then I am giving them a backlink. These links are how search engines find new websites and content, which they then index.

Indexing — Search engines consist of gigantic indexes—collections of websites and web pages that are used in their search results. My website is indexed in Google. If you search for your site and you can’t find it, you may not be indexed. Tip: search using “site: yourwebsite.com” in Google to see all the pages of your website Google has indexed. If none show up, you need some backlinks so Google can find your site and index it.


Off-page SEO is a much broader topic than On-page. Unlike on-page, there isn’t a checklist of simple changes to carry out that will improve your rankings. Think of it more as branding for your website. It is a never ending process, and shouldn’t be pushed aside.

On-page SEO can be carried out for a site and left alone for the majority of sites, but on-page can always be worked on.

Branding is actually a big part of Off-page SEO now, as your website’s name (brand) and how popular it is throughout social media and the web plays a big part in how search engines rank your site.

The main part of Off-page is building up authority in the eyes of search engines. This is achieved by gaining more backlinks. But not only the quantity of backlinks, but the authority and quality of the backlinks you are receiving.

You should strive to build quality backlinks over quantity. A single backlink can be more powerful than thousands. For example, if Google decided to link to your site on their homepage, versus receiving a backlink from my blog 🙂

Start your SEO now

Start by carrying out On-page SEO, and then focus on Off-page. I recommend reading further about the types of SEO from the following resources:

In the future I will be adding more content to this article, to create a concise all-in-one starter guide for small businesses. Follow me on social media to stay up to date with my blog posts.