If you’re a small business owner, it’s very important that you have a basic understanding of SEO, or search engine optimisation.

Chances are you’re very familiar with the term SEO already – as it’s likely your inbox and junk mail folders are full of emails from companies overseas offering you cheap SEO work for your website. But unless you’ve spent a little time doing some reading and research, it’s likely you’re not too familiar with what it is, what it means, and how important it can be for your business.

SEO is unique in that its not a fad or a passing technique that’s going to lose its significance in the near future. Its here to stay and is only going to become even more important as industries rely more and more on the internet to reach their customers.

It’s important you understand the basics of SEO to help keep your business up to date, and allow potential clients and customers to be able to find you.

So here are some of the basics of what you need to know:

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for ‘search engine optimisation’. It’s the process of increasing your website’s rankings in search engines, such as Google or Bing. The benefit of a higher ranking in the search engines is an increase in traffic, as its easier for people who are searching for the services you offer to find you.

Your ranking is determined by how relevant your website is to the search someone has conducted. The relevancy is determined by algorithms that take into account a huge number of factors on your website. Search engines don’t release the intricate details of these algorithms, but they are still quite open about most of the factors that the algorithms take into account.

What is SERP?

SERP is an acronym that stands for search engine results page, and goes hand-in-hand with SEO. If your website has good SEO, it’ll have a better standing in the search engine results.

Your website’s SERP location or ranking should be treated very seriously by business owners, and you should always aim to be as high as possible, because most of the clicks and business will go to the websites that sit at the top on the first page. And here’s why…

Say one of the kids puts a cricket ball through the lounge window, and you need to get in touch with a glazier to get it fixed. Your immediate reaction is to go to your phone or computer and search for a glazier. If you’re like 93 percent of the population, you’ll use Google and click one of the top 5 results for a glazier. That glazier gets your business because they’re at the top of Google. Every other glazier that’s in your area and is likely to do just as good a job as the glazier you chose is missing out, simply because they haven’t invested in SEO.

What role do ‘keywords’ play in SEO?

Keywords are a vital part of your SEO, and it’s important to choose keywords that are going to get you the most return, in the form of traffic and clicks. When writing the text for your website content, make sure you use words and phrases that are related to your industry, and are likely to be used by people searching for your services. If you’re a glazier, talk about fixing broken windows. If you’re a plumber, talk about fixing leaking pipes or replacing spouting. Those are the things people are going to be searching for in Google to find glaziers and plumbers.

That said, don’t just stuff your content with keywords at the expense of well-written content and expect the clicks to just start coming in. Search engines are becoming increasingly intelligent, and know when you’ve just stuffed a paragraph with keywords in the hope it’ll increase your ranking.

The key is to making sure your text is well written, is enticing to readers, and that you use those keywords where appropriate.

How does social media impact SEO?

Search engines are starting to rely more on social media profiles to determine the rankings on their results pages. They visit your business profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and can see how many likes and followers you have. The more you have, the more relevant they assume your business is, and so are more likely to give you a higher ranking.

However, just because you have lots of likes doesn’t mean you’ll appear above your competitors. Search engines also analyse the level of interaction on your page, so it pays to engaging your audiences with meaningful content.

A few more things…

SEO takes time. You can’t make a few quick changes on your website and expect to go from page ten to the top of page one. It’s something that needs to be worked at and continually analysed. But the benefits are obvious. Your website needs to be contributing to your businesses and bringing in customers. You can have the most expensive and stylish website on the internet, but if people can’t find you, what’s the point!