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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 12 April 2021
  • Dr. Billy M. and Jelani Markus

SEO Basics for Your Small Business Website in 2021

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a collection of techniques you can use to improve your site's visibility in a search engine's organic search results, which can be an effective tool for marketing your small business. If you want to learn more about the basics of SEO for your small business and how to get started, you're in the right place.

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What are SEO basics?

The objective of SEO is to get your website to appear at the top of search engine rankings. Customers generally have little patience to explore anything listed after the first page of search results.

SEO basics are essentially the building blocks of having good SEO. They are a set of steps to get your site ranked in search. Even this article was written with SEO basics in mind. The better you are with the basics, the more likely your page will rank higher. However, even the basics change, so it is important not only to learn the basics but also to keep up to date with SEO best practices.

Keywords
The first SEO basic to understand is keywords. A keyword is a word or phrase a user will enter into a search engine when looking for an item, product, service or business. Carefully choosing keywords that best describe your business — and are frequently used on search engines — will help your site rank for those terms.

You may use a combination of short-tail keywords, which are fairly general and typically comprise only one or two words, or long-tail keywords, which tend to be more specific and descriptive, such as "sushi restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area." Conduct some keyword research to determine the keywords with the most search volume and, therefore, the most potential to bring traffic to your site. A good place to start is to use the Google Keyword Tool.

A word of caution: Do not overuse keywords on a page. Search engines typically frown on, or even penalize, "black hat" SEO practices such as keyword stuffing and paid traffic. For example, Google may de-index your website so that it will no longer appear in search results.

Title tags
As a general rule, each page on your website must have a unique title tag. It provides search engines with the information required to classify a webpage. Thus, a title tag with strong optimization is bound to get higher placement in search results.

  • Insert keywords in the "title" section of your page's source code. In addition, keywords and/or key phrases should appear in the meta-description section, which describes your site's product, service or content. Repeat this for each page, using unique keywords as appropriate.
  • For effective search, limit title tags to 70 characters, including spaces. Search engines will not display full titles in results, and readers often will click on a link on the results page that displays the full title rather than a partial one.
  • Your title should be concise but descriptive and informative. Include keywords related to your product and/or service as well as your company's brand name. For example: "Sushi Dining Coupons and Discounts | Reiko's Restaurant — San Francisco, CA."
  • Your customized meta description should be a brief page summary — no more than 150–160 characters long — and should include target keyword(s) and/or key phrases.

How can I do SEO for my website?

Anyone can do SEO for your website by learning the important aspects of SEO and performing the steps needed. However, it’s always important to stay knowledgeable about SEO in 2021 and beyond. You may want to save money by controlling the digital aspect of your business on your own. In order to do that, you want to leverage your website and digital marketing better than your competition. The following steps can help.

Create a site map
Spiders — search engine indexing programs — crawl the web and analyze new websites and content on existing websites. This effectively adds sites to the lists of pages that can be presented in response to user queries.

  • Create a site map. Make a directory that lists individual links to all pages on your site. This facilitates the easy movement of the spider programs throughout your business site, enhancing your content for natural search traffic and allowing search engines to properly crawl and index it.
  • Build internal links between pages. Create internal links that connect different pieces of content on your site so that search engine spiders can catalog the pages. For instance, in addition to visitors getting to your "About Us" page from the navigation bar, include relevant text links to this page from within the body content on your home page.

Focus on quality content
Make sure to combine SEO with quality content. In addition to keywords and phrases on a page, your content also affects ranking. Search engine algorithms will typically take into account the time readers will spend on your pages and the bounce rate — or readers who quickly return to the search engine because they are unsatisfied.

Make sure your site is updated regularly with clear, intelligent writing that catches readers' attention and keeps them on your page longer. A quality page has unique content, is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and offers something of use to readers.

Search engines will rank your site based on several indicators, such as traffic, fresh content, back links and domain age. By implementing an SEO strategy, you can give potential customers a better chance of finding and engaging with your site.

How can I teach myself SEO?

Good question! SEO is always changing, but in this article, we have compiled some basic steps you need to take to ensure you are on the right path. In addition to the steps provided here, it's always a good idea to read SEO articles from great sources on the subject like Ahrefs or Moz for continued learning. But for now, let’s finalize by addressing the step-by-step process.

How do I perform the SEO basics step-by-step?

  1. Identify keywords pertinent to your site.
  2. Create your domain if you haven't already and secure it with an SSL certificate (a must these days).
  3. Use your most important keyword(s) for each page in the metadata, page title and first paragraph. But follow the rules, and sound natural!
  4. Ensure you have proper site navigation at the top of your page so the indexing spiders find it early.
  5. Perform competitive analysis to know who your competitors are and to get a feel for their content.
  6. Create unique, quality content pages that provide information or answers to questions that solve problems for the reader — even products and service listings.
    1. Make content pages at least 500 words (no thin pages).
    2. Use keyword best practices described in item No. 3 above.
    3. No black hat tactics!
  7. Create a site map of your pages.
  8. Create a website schema on the homepage at a minimum. However, each major page should have a schema.
  9. Perform site speed tests, and ensure your site is as optimized as possible.
  10. Submit your site to search engines.
    1. Create a Google Search Console (GSC) account because Google is the No. 1 search engine with 90% market share.
    2. Submit the site to Google, Bing and all other search engines in which you want to rank.
    3. You should tag your site with something like Google Analytics so you can measure traffic. Make sure to associate your GSC account with your Google Analytics account so you can see search data in Google Analytics if you go that route.
  11. Create social media accounts and review accounts like Yelp, etc. Build your first inbound links to your site.
  12. Part of SEO basics is understanding that SEO is ever-changing and that monitoring and reacting quickly is important. Revisit the GSC often to find any errors.

While SEO may feel like a moving target, it's a target that moves fairly slowly. New innovations will always be around the corner, but as long you stay up to date with any changes and know the SEO basics, you will remain better equipped to fight for the ranking of your dreams.

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