Internet map highlighting the need for a smb seo guide. Pic by jurvetson

Addressing the question “What is SEO“, this ultimate small business SEO guide will give you a comprehensive, and easy-to-understand guide to all aspects of SEO for small business.

This main aim of this SEO guide is to help entrepreneurs, bloggers and small business owners understand and appreciate every aspect of SEO in a logical and practical way.

In addition to breaking down SEO into it’s six major constituent disciplines, you’ll also get practical and in-depth advice and information on:

  • how to implement and improve SEO
  • what’s new in SEO (updated regularly so bookmark and check back often)
  • where to find the best SEO software and tools
  • links to important SEO articles and resources

Different types of SEO

This small business SEO guide covers all major aspects of SEO, including:

  • content SEO
  • analytical SEO
  • performance SEO
  • Technical/HTML SEO
  • Image SEO
  • Off-site SEO

Where possible I will demonstrate SEO techniques (or refer to other articles) with verifiable SEO examples that you can look at on Google.

Content SEO

Content SEO refers to the SEO techniques you can use to help your content appear higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

How to implement content SEO: Content SEO requires you to know which SEO keywords and phrases you want to target with a piece of content. This in turn means you need to do some SEO keyword research before sitting down to write.

The following articles tell you everything you need to know about content SEO:

What’s new in content SEO: Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates hit a lot of sites. Not all of the updates affected content SEO – Penguin focused on spammy backlinks, for example.

However, almost all of Google’s updates are designed to improve the quality of the content returned by their search. Quality! That’s the new buzzword. Good content SEO starts with high quality content that is useful, engaging, valuable or entertaining.

Analytical SEO

Analytical SEO makes use of traffic analysis through an analytics service like Google analytics. By analyzing the sources, demographics, browsing patterns and conversions of organic search traffic, it is possible to improve your SEO strategy.

How to implement analytical SEO: The following articles focus on how to use analytics in conjunction with SEO to drive traffic:

What’s new in analytical SEO: Still in beta, Google analytic’s Real-Time opens up a whole new world of analytical possibilities for SEO and Internet marketing. Check out this article entitled “The latest Internet marketing techniques & SEO tips using Google analytics’ Real-Time“.

Performance SEO

Performance SEO is a personal favorite of mine. It requires an excellent knowledge of programming (usually PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, DOM), combined with knowledge web architecture, search engines, caching, compression, aggregation and more.

Unless you have some pretty serious in-house expertise on these matters, it’s best to consult with a technical SEO expert.

How to implement performance SEO: Fortunately, if you are using a decent CMS like Drupal or WordPress, a reasonable amount of performance related SEO is handled for you automatically.

The following articles show some surprising statistics and results about performance SEO and how to implement and test it (the second one is specific to Drupal, but still holds plenty of advice and tips that apply to all website platforms):

What’s new in performance SEO: One of the most exciting aspects of performance SEO is that it is more “science” than most other SEO disciplines. It can be tested by cool new tools for SEO developers. Check out the article entitled “How to test SEO: Top free SEO tools to easily check the SEO of any page“.

Technical & HTML SEO

Technical SEO refers to any SEO activities that occur on the server side of things. For example, maintaining a proper XML sitemap, robots.txt, .htaccess, file system structure and so on.

HTML SEO is concerned with SEO activities that are part of a webpage’s HTML makeup without necessarily being part of the page content. Examples include setting canonical URLs, META tags (description and keywords), Dublin core, and so on.

How to implement technical and HTML SEO: Technical SEO should only be attempted if you are a competent webmaster. It is possible to effectively delete your entire website from the search index with a single line in the .htaccess file. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it, and learned from my mistakes.

This article, entitled “10 step assessment: How to hire an SEO consultant or Internet marketing company for your business” provides some guidelines on how to find a suitable SEO expert, in the event you are unable to implement the above mentioned technical and HTML SEO.

What’s new in technical and HTML SEO: One of the coolest features that you can implement behind the scenes on your website is Google authorship. The following article entitled “Five money making SEO tips for small business online stores” has information on how to set up authorship for your content.

Image SEO

Image SEO is technically a part of content, technical and HTML SEO since it is part of content, is a file and so is part of the file system, and requires the addition of img tag attributes, namely Alt and Title. However, I have given Image SEO its own section because of the rising importance of images in SEO.

How to implement image SEO: Image SEO is super easy. Read the article entitled “SEO how to: Using Image SEO to appear higher in Google search results” to get a complete overview on how to leverage images for SEO.

What’s new in image SEO: While it’s not very new, it is important to note that Google offers a dedicated Image search as well as including images it thinks are related to a Web search within the first page of those results.

This gives you an opportunity to appear on the first page even when your content doesn’t.

Off-site SEO

Off-site SEO is as important as all the other SEO disciplines discussed so far. Off-site SEO refers to your backlink strategy and how you go about building up a large pool of valuable, organic backlinks to your content.

The more backlinks you have, the more authority and value Google places on your content, and the higher your rankings in Google. Simple as that!

How to implement off-site SEO: Off-site SEO comes down to creating awesome content that people want to talk about, share and reference. You can encourage sharing by offering social sharing buttons on your site. You can discuss your articles in blog comments, news sites and forums, but fundamentally it’s the quality of your content that will drive backlinks.

The following articles demonstrate how to promote and market your content:

What’s new in off-site SEO: A little thing called the Penguin algorithm update. This update directly targeted what Google refers to as “webspam” – backlinks created with the sole intention of manipulating the PageRank algorithm.

Legitimate business that commissioned SEO companies to work for them found their webpages disappearing overnight subsequent to the Penguin update. Only then did they realize that “guarantees” of first page results at low cost were too good to be true.

Bottom line is this: After going through this entire small business SEO guide and seeing all the different disciplines involved, understanding that years of experience and plenty of talent and skill is required, do you think that top page results can be guaranteed for $19.99? Obviously not.

Here are some articles that talk about the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates and how to deal with them:

If you got this far, congratulations… you are now most likely a complete SEO guru :) If you think there is anything I have neglected to mention then drop me a note in the comments and I’ll add it in.

Please, take a moment to help build some off-site SEO around this great small business SEO guide by sharing it with your work colleagues, business associates, industry groups, social circles, and so on.

Where to find the best SEO software services & tools

While empowering your self with knowledge and practical SEO experience is vital to the ongoing health of your organic search traffic, it’s not always possible to do everything yourslef without a bit of help.

Fortunately, there are some excellent, world-class SEO companies providing SEO tools that can make your life a lot easier and help to drive traffic and revenue.

Check out the article entitled “Best SEO tools list: Top SEO software sites ranked by their own SEO performance” for a table of the world’s top SEO services.