SEO: you may be familiar with the term, but understanding what is actually involved in getting your business’ website to rank higher in search engine results can seem like figuring out a magic trick. The following 10 points will help you unravel the mystery surrounding SEO and get a better sense of how it can help your small business.

1. SEO stands for search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization refers to the group of practices designed to improve your website’s ranking within organic, non-paid search results. In short, SEO aims to improve your business’ visibility and drive increased web traffic to your site. A variety of techniques are in the SEO toolbox, from keyword optimization to social media activity.

2. Pay-per-click advertising has no effect on SEO.

While pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) is an important part of any online marketing campaign and is often seen as complimentary to SEO, PPC has no direct effect on SEO results. Think about it this way: PPC is a type of paid advertisement, while SEO aims to influence organic search results.

3. The keywords you choose make a big difference.

Keyword optimization is a big part of SEO, but the first step in that process is figuring out the right keywords to emphasize on your website. In general, the ideal keywords will be relevant to your business, tie in with your site’s content and be frequently searched for by your potential customers while not widely in use by other websites.

4. Your site can be too keyword heavy.

While using the right keywords is important, using too many keywords can actually hurt your search engine ranking. Over-stuffing your website with keywords will cause your site to be regarded as spam by search engines, and the spiders that search engines use to index sites are programmed to pass over websites that engage in keyword stuffing.

5. No matter how relevant, images won’t help improve your search results.

Search engines are only capable of analyzing text to determine website rankings. Even if the images on your site have text in them, the search engine spiders will not be able to “read” it. Make good use of the ALT tag, which allows you to include a searchable text description for your website’s images.

6. Internal linking within your site will help boost your search engine standing.

Creating a strong network of internal links within your website can help boost traffic to all of your site’s discrete pages, which in turn helps improve search engine rankings. If you can, make internal linking even more effective by ensuring that the text of your links include relevant keywords.

7. Links to your site from other sites are also key.

As with internal linking, links from websites outside of your own play a key role in the algorithms used to determine search engine rankings. Spending time to develop relationships with the webmasters of other sites who might be willing to link to your business’ site can pay off handsomely.

8. Social media is a critical part of any SEO campaign.

Cultivating a strong presence on a variety of social networking sites and promoting your website’s content on these platforms will help your business perform better in search engine rankings. Besides Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, make a profile for your business on any social media channel that is appropriate within your industry.

9. Offering interesting, fresh content is important.

The right keywords used to be enough to move your website to the top of the search results, but the algorithms that search engines use have gotten smarter. As these ranking method have evolved, high-quality web content has become the driving force behind a good search engine showing. In addition, offering compelling content can make other sites want to link to you, further boosting your performance.

10. Search engine optimization can be challenging, and hiring a SEO expert can help you achieve the best results.

While anyone can launch a SEO campaign, achieving results is more difficult. The amount of research and implementation time that you face to truly optimize your website may not be worth it; after all, you have a business to run. The cost of hiring a SEO expert is easily offset by the increased traffic and growing customer base that your website will experience.

Manager of SEO & Social Media at

Jordan is the Manager of SEO & Social Media at UpCity. With almost a decade of experience designing websites and writing compelling copy, Jordan has helped countless brands find their voice, tell their story, and connect with real people.