SEO Fundamentals – Guide for Small Businesses

Why should we care about SEO

  • Grow traffic
  • Reach new audiences/users
  • Brand awareness
  • Attract users ready to buy/sign up
  • Website performs better in other ways
  • Sustainable growth

We are going to answer the following questions...

  • What is SEO?
  • How does Google rank websites?
  • How can we rank better in Google?

How does Google rank websites?

Google ranks websites according to how well they satisfy the criteria of it’s constantly updated ‘algorithm’. When you make a search e.g. ‘Sourdough flour’, Google will compare all of the websites it is aware exist that are relevant for the search term against the following factors.

Theoretically, if your site performs strongly against all of these metrics, your site will rank highly in Google. We will call these metrics, ‘ranking factors’.

Within these ranking factors, there are many ways we can optimise to score highly. However, to keep things simple, we can regard the main ranking factors to focus on as:

  • Content
  • Links
  • Technical Website Performance

How can we rank better in Google?

Now we know what the criteria is, we can identify where we need to work. If your site has good content, but poor performance (this can include a number of different issues we will go into), we can then focus on the right things to improve performance for your site.

So what are things we should consider within the 3 main ranking factors:


To rank in Google, your site must contain high quality content. How can we define ‘high quality content’ in a tangible way? Google released guidelines on how they rate content quality in 2019. These guidelines paid special attention to identifying content that demonstrates expertise, authority & trust.


If your site receives a high volume of inbound links from other sites, there is a good chance that your site is trusted and noteworthy. If the sites that link your site are highly regarded by Google, that is an even bigger sign of respect, that will result in high rankings. Lets say you have a number of links from BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, Google will be confident that your site is worth ranking.

Technical Website Performance

If your website is not in good shape, Google will not want to surface it in results. Simple as that. Technical SEO should be regarded as the foundation of your SEO strategy. Let’s say your site is slow, contains many broken pages, images and content that is difficult for Google to understand, and structured in a confusing way. This is more common than you’d think, and most sites have all of these issues without webmasters even being aware of it. Google will never want to surface a poorly performing site for it’s searchers, and this will be very influential when it considers which website to rank in the top spot for your target keywords.

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