SEO basics | Easy-to-read guide for small businesses | SEO Derby
website designer geek with a pencil


SEO basics for small business owners

How to start SEO?

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be part of the planning of a new website.
  • SEO is not just about a 'well set up site'. It goes hand-in-hand with web design and web development.
  • It can be quite a long process but if you do it right, you will be rewarded with better page ranks.

Note: Our aim on this website is to provide a basic understanding of SEO for non-techies. Achieving good search positions on a long-term basis will most likely need the expertise of a web specialist.

Good SEO means creating value and engaging your website visitors.

Are there accurate rules for SEO?
The answer is: Yes - and NO


Because Google doesn’t tell us exactly how search prioritisation and crawlers work – it just advises us how to think.

Even so, it offers plenty of technical advice and best practices that should be followed – as well as what to avoid.

The good news is that it’s not magic.

Google's goal is to provide users with the most useful and relevant search results because it is in their interest to do so. If Google doesn’t deliver what people are looking for, they may look somewhere else.

In short, your website has to provide relevant, interesting, engaging information that provides what people are searching for. And it should be fast, secure and easy-to-read.

Man - winner

- Quotes -
Let's see what Google itself says about SEO:

Google quotes 1#
Google quotes 2#

It's all about providing value, visitor engagement and technical perfection.

Why do we only mention Google when there are other search engines too? Because approx. 92% of people use Google. Detailed statistics about search engine market shares .

Basic SEO principles
what your website has to comply with to achieve a good search result.

Some of these are quite easy for anyone to do. Others may need specialised professional help.

Quality content

It seems obvious. A website has to contain useful content that gives potential clients or visitors the information that they are looking for. However, a lot of small businesses fail at this point. They may be good at what they do but online communication is another matter.

Good structure

Visitors to your website need to see clearly its structure and content. Put yourself in their position: can you easily find what you are looking for? How many clicks do you need, to reach important pages? Good structure helps your visitors and encourages search engines.


Your website should use 'https' (the so-called ‘SSL’ certificate). In a browser’s address bar, it is marked by a small  icon before your domain name. It shows search engines that communication between the user’s computer and the website is encrypted and hence is secure. Web hosting companies often offer free SSL.

Mobile friendliness

More than 52% of website visitors use mobile devices, so having a mobile-friendly website is crucial. Bear in mind that being 'mobile-responsive' doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s 'mobile friendly'. To be truly mobile-friendly, issues like font size, tap targets, wording, speed and content structure also need to be taken into account.


The faster a site loads, the better. But that depends on a lot of technical factors, such as coding, image optimisation, file minification, caching, HTTP requests, database structure, web server issues and so on – loads of buzzwords. Advice: Make sure your web designer really knows the ropes. If a new website isn't built on the right foundations, it could be painful later on.


"Authority of a website describes its relevance for a specific subject area or industry." (Wikipedia) It's based on several factors: Domain (website) age, popularity, size, quality. This isn't a straightforward technical issue, like website speed. The best way to improve your authority level is to become a prominent player in your industry.

Technical elements

‘Crawlers’ are what search engines use to analyse websites and they are developed to think like humans - but they’re NOT humans yet... So, they need some help to see your site’s content. Proper use of ‘H1’, ‘H2’ and ‘H3’ page titles is vital, as it tells crawlers about the content’s hierarchy. Write unique meta descriptions. Always use image ALT descriptions.

Dwelling time

People spend more time on a website when they have a great user experience. Search engines are able to see how much time a visitor spends on your website, which is an indication of how useful your content is. Advice: Always think what your potential visitors are looking for - and give it to them.

Links & Social signals

Guide your visitors around your site with plenty of links. There can be 'internal' and 'cross' links, as well as 'inbound' and 'outbound' ones. Internal links point from one page to another on your website. Cross links point to another domain name. Connect your website to your social media pages, because social media links contribute to your SEO ‘score’.

sad cartoon man

Are you getting confused? Is SEO too complex?

There’s no doubt that SEO is a huge topic, and for a non-expert there is a bewildering number of features, articles and blogs on the subject. But if you stick to the basic principles it will get you a long way.

Read more about SEO misconceptions, SEO checklist, try out our text readability test or

Get professional advice

You should know the basic principles of SEO because it will help you to make a good decision and be successful.

happy cartoon man in blue suit
We use cookies, which are placed on your computer or other device. By using this site, you agree to such cookies being used. To find out more please see our cookies policy.