Small Business Owner Question: What is SEO?

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

What is SEO and How Does it Work?
If you’re stuck on learning or improving SEO, you’re not alone! In this post, we go over the basics: what is SEO, where to begin, and few tips to help jump-start your efforts!

What is SEO?

So what IS SEO exactly? For you newbs out there, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, it’s a process to help improve a site’s online visibility and search engine ranking.

How Do Search Engines Work?

In general, search engines use different algorithms that pull groups of keywords from articles, blogs, and web pages and then rank a website or webpage based on what they find (according to precise search engine ranking guidelines — that are different for each search engine).

In other words, after a search engine detects new site data, it “files” (indexes) and organizes that info to make the content more searchable and at the same time assigns it a rank (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) in comparison to other web pages out there.

So if you fail to follow search engine ranking guidelines, your website will be harder to discover. After a search engine detects site data, it “files” (indexes) and organizes the info in a way that makes the content more searchable and at the same time assigns it a rank (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)

Small Business Search 101

There’s a lot of buzzing going on about SEO basics and portraying it as a quick fix. Sadly, it’s not necessarily the solution for many site/content problems out there.

Now don’t underestimate the power of SEO, especially if you don’t have it! However, if you’ve implemented SEO and keep trying to improve it but haven’t seen any results, you may want to (temporarily) consider another strategy.


SEO takes a bit of time to show results! Think of it this way: what do you do if you need to grow a plant without a gardener? You either buy a plant that’s already planted, OR you learn how to do it yourself (the right way). No matter what, either route takes a bit of time.

In short, incremental SEO improvements show results over the long-term.

How it Can Help Small Businesses

How do you think SEO can help your business?

SEO helps to improve the quality and amount of traffic to your site because it makes your content more searchable based on keyword ranking vs. having to type in a specific URL.

One of the neat things about learning SEO is that it’ll make you rethink how you appear to your audience. Over time, as you track and test your analytics and other data, you’ll be able to understand what’s lacking and needs attention.

No matter what, SEO is an ongoing process. Again, not a quick fix because search algorithms change frequently. Plus, new services and businesses are popping up all of the time and get added to the mix!

What will your ROI (Return On Investment) be?

With the time and money spent on SEO, one may wonder how long it takes for SEO results to show and what they’ll get in return?

The truth is, it depends!

Results can take anywhere from 6 months to a year. At a minimum (if implemented correctly), three months. There also isn’t a straightforward answer (or formula) to get exact ROI percentages either. Yes, you may find “answers” out there but remember that every company website in existence is different and at VARIOUS stages. So ultimately, new businesses may see a massive explosion in their analytics at first. Then they may experience a dip and then another slight increase.

SEO techniques change frequently. In other words, don’t try to optimize everything at one time.

On the other hand, older companies may experience a little growth, but not like the percentages they saw when they first started.

The results can go in many different directions.

Why you should use SEO

With all this info, you’re probably wondering, “Why should I even bother with SEO if it doesn’t provide fast, guaranteed results?!”

One MAJOR reason: Because your competitors are MOST LIKELY already utilizing it!

However, it’s not that cut and dry!

“Using SEO” doesn’t put you on a level playing feel with others who are doing the same. Why? Because not everyone can keep up with the frequent changes that need to happen on a site as they add new content, nor all of the SEO updates happening with search engines. Plus, there are different types of SEO that need to be utilized in specific ways depending on your business needs!

Tip: if you’ve heard that you can get better results in a shorter amount of time, don’t get SEO confused with PPC (pay-per-click). PPC ads can be very beneficial if you have a targeted marketing campaign and want fast results. However, it can be costly; it’s temporary and ultimately doesn’t impact SEO.

SEO Benefits:

  • Greater online visibility via search engine(s)
  • Better targeted, higher quality traffic
  • Improved public image and online presence
  • Potential to save $$$ from organic traffic
  • Higher possibility to attract new visitors

SEO Drawbacks:

  • Results take time
  • Ability to learn new tactics and track optimization efforts
  • No control of search engine algorithm/databases
  • Costs money to hire outside SEO help (no guarantees!)

Search Engine Optimization Advice

  • Always aim for relevant quality information. Type it out, like you’re talking to someone face-to-face. Try to convey a message that is easy to understand.
  • Small, consistent improvements over time can show significant results. Nothing happens overnight, so have patience and keep at it.
  • Improve the quality of images. Make sure you know the correct sizing guidelines. You don’t want squished or partially cut-off photos.
  • Re-word information to direct it toward a preferred audience. People use different words when referring to the same thing.
  • Basic SEO techniques consist of quality content, relevant keywords, image optimization, and optimizing where traffic goes. Know your audience, how they talk, where they go, and what they want. It takes time and research.

More info on how to further improve your SEO!:

Final Words

So there you have it, a quick rundown on what SEO is, how it can help and where to begin! If you’re looking for more info on website optimization or SEO in general, check out these posts!:

In the meantime, stay tuned for additional UGH! Media blog posts!

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What is SEO [Infographic]
If you’re not clear on what SEO is all about, this infographic breaks it down.

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