SEO for Small Business: SEM Strategies Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. What is SEO and SEM?
  2. How to choose the right keywords
  3. How to optimize your website for search engines
  4. Why content is key
  5. How to build backlinks
  6. Why local SEO matters
  7. How to use Google ads for SEM
  8. How to analyze and adjust your SEO/SEM strategy
  9. SEO/SEM Tools and resources for small businesses

As a small business owner, you may find yourself asking, "Which search engine marketing is best for small business owners?" Well, you're in the right place. This guide will provide a simple, understandable breakdown of SEO and SEM strategies, tailored to fit the unique needs of small businesses.

What is SEO and SEM?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of making your website attractive to search engines like Google. Think of it as sprucing up your online store to make it easier for online shoppers to find and choose you. SEM, on the other hand, is Search Engine Marketing. This involves marketing your business using paid strategies to appear in search engine results. It's like setting up a billboard on the internet highway to attract more visitors to your store.

Here's a straightforward breakdown:

  • SEO: tactics that help your website rank higher in organic (non-paid) search engine results. It's all about making your website as attractive as possible to search engines. This includes selecting the right keywords, optimizing your website's design and content, and building quality backlinks.
  • SEM: strategies that involve paying to show up in search engine results. This usually involves bidding on keywords that are relevant to your business and creating ads that will appear when people search for those keywords. Google Ads is a popular platform for this type of marketing.

Both SEO and SEM are vital tools to increase your online visibility. But which search engine marketing tactic is best for small business owners? The answer depends on your specific needs, resources, and goals. But don't worry—we'll cover that too.

How to choose the right keywords

Choosing the right keywords is like picking the right name for your store. You want a name that not only represents what you offer, but also something that people are likely to search for. So, how do you go about it?

It starts with understanding your business and your audience. What are you selling? Who are your customers? What words or phrases might they use to search for your products or services? These are your initial keywords.

Now, you'll want to refine that list. Remember, you're a small business owner. It might be tough to compete with bigger businesses for common keywords. That's where long-tail keywords come in. These are longer, more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they're closer to making a purchase or when they're using voice search.

For example, instead of "coffee shop," you might opt for "organic coffee shop in downtown Phoenix." Yes, fewer people will search for this long-tail keyword, but those who do are probably looking for a very specific type of coffee shop—one like yours!

Keyword research tools can help you find these golden nuggets. They show you how often people search for specific keywords, how competitive those keywords are, and even suggest new keywords you might not have thought of.

Remember, the goal isn't to attract any visitor—it's to attract the right visitors. The ones who are interested in what you offer and are likely to become customers. That's why choosing the right keywords is so important in determining which search engine marketing is best for small business owners—it helps you connect with the right people.

How to optimize your website for search engines

Alright, you've got your keywords. Now, you're probably thinking, "where do I put these?" Well, you're going to weave them into your website like a skilled artisan. But remember, search engines are smart—they know when you're stuffing keywords. So, let's keep it natural.

First, your website's title tags. These are the headlines that appear in search engine results. Make them clear, descriptive, and include your chosen keywords. But keep it under 60 characters, or Google might cut it off.

Next, meta descriptions. These short paragraphs describe your page's content and appear under your title in search results. Make them enticing, keyword-rich, but still under 160 characters.

Then, there's the actual content of your pages. This is where you can really let your keywords shine. But remember, your content should be helpful and engaging first—keyword usage is secondary. Also, use variations of your keywords to keep things interesting.

Did you know your images can also help with SEO? Yep, by adding alt text—which describes the image—you not only make your website more accessible, but also give search engines more context about your page. Plus, it's another great place to use your keywords.

Finally, don't forget about your URLs. They should be simple, easy to understand, and yes—you guessed it—include your keywords.

So there you have it. By carefully placing your keywords in these key areas, you can help search engines understand what your website is about, making it easier for potential customers to find you. And as a small business owner, that's exactly what you want when deciding which search engine marketing is best for your business.

Why content is key

Now, let's talk about something that's close to my heart—content. You might be wondering, "What's so special about content?" Well, in the world of SEO, content is king. Let's explore why.

Firstly, content gives search engines something to index. When a search engine like Google visits your site, it's looking for content. The more relevant, high-quality content you have, the more likely you are to show up in search results. This is crucial when considering which search engine marketing is best for small business owners.

Secondly, content helps build trust with your audience. Good content isn't just about stuffing keywords—it's about providing value to your visitors. Whether it's a helpful blog post, an in-depth guide, or an engaging video, great content can turn a casual visitor into a loyal customer.

Lastly, content helps you stand out from the competition. With so many businesses online, unique, high-quality content can be the difference between blending in and standing out. So, when you're writing your next blog post or creating your next video, think about how you can provide the most value to your audience.

So remember, when thinking about SEO, don't just focus on keywords and links—content is key. Because when it comes to determining which search engine marketing is best for small business owners, high-quality, valuable content always wins.

Alright, let's dive into another major part of the SEO puzzle—backlinks. Backlinks are essentially votes of confidence from other websites. When another site links to yours, search engines see it as a thumbs-up, a sign that your content is valuable and worth sharing. Let's go through some steps on how to build these important backlinks.

Step 1: Create link-worthy content. Remember when we talked about the importance of content? Here's where it comes into play again. The first step to earning backlinks is to have content that other sites want to link to. This could be a helpful how-to guide, an engaging blog post, or a useful resource page. Put effort into making your content the best it can be—then others will want to share it, and search engines will notice.

Step 2: Reach out to relevant websites. Once you have some great content, it's time to reach out to other sites in your industry. Let them know about your content and why it might be helpful to their audience. Remember, it's not about begging for links—it's about offering value.

Step 3: Be active online. Participate in online forums, answer questions on sites like Quora, and leave thoughtful comments on relevant blogs. These activities can help you build relationships and earn backlinks naturally. And remember, these backlinks can help determine which search engine marketing is best for small business owners.

So, there you have it. Building backlinks is not a quick process, but it's a valuable one. With patience, persistence, and great content, you can build a network of backlinks that boosts your SEO and helps your small business shine online.

Why local SEO matters

Let's shift gears and talk about local SEO. You might be wondering, "What exactly is local SEO, and why does it matter for my small business?"

Well, local SEO is all about making your business visible to people in your area. It's like having a big neon sign that says, "Hey, we're here in your neighborhood!" But instead of a sign, it's your website showing up when locals search for your products or services. If you're asking which search engine marketing is best for small business owners, local SEO should definitely be in your toolkit.

Step 1: Optimize your Google My Business listing. This is your business's profile on Google. It's what shows up when people search for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps. Make sure your listing is complete, accurate, and optimized with keywords.

Step 2: Collect and respond to reviews. Reviews play a big role in local SEO. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews, and be sure to respond to them—both the good and the not-so-good. This shows that you value customer feedback and can help boost your local SEO.

Step 3: Use local keywords. Include your city, state, or neighborhood in your website's content to help it show up in local searches. For example, if you're a florist in Seattle, you might use keywords like "Seattle flowers" or "florist in Seattle".

When it comes down to it, local SEO is all about connecting with your community. It's about being there when your neighbors are searching for what you offer. And that, my friend, is a powerful way to grow your small business online.

How to use Google ads for SEM

Next up is Google Ads, another key player in the world of search engine marketing. If you're still wondering which search engine marketing is best for small business owners, you'll want to pay close attention to this part.

Google Ads is a paid advertising platform. It's like having a billboard on the internet's busiest highway. But instead of hoping the right people drive by, you get to target exactly who sees your ad. Sounds pretty neat, right?

Step 1: Set up your Google Ads account. This is where you'll manage all your ads. It's pretty straightforward to set up, just follow Google's instructions and you'll be up and running in no time.

Step 2: Choose your keywords. Remember when we talked about choosing the right keywords? The same principles apply here. Pick relevant, specific keywords that your target customers are likely to use when searching for your products or services.

Step 3: Create your ads. Be clear, compelling, and concise. Remember, you're competing with other ads and search results for attention, so make it count!

Step 4: Set your budget. With Google Ads, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You get to decide how much you're willing to spend per click and per day, giving you control over your advertising costs.

Using Google Ads for SEM can be incredibly effective. It can put your business in front of people who are actively searching for what you offer. Now that's what I call strategic advertising!

How to analyze and adjust your SEO/SEM strategy

Alright, so you've got your keywords chosen, your website optimized, and your Google Ads running. But how do you know if all this effort is paying off? This is where analyzing and adjusting your SEO/SEM strategy comes into play. It's like being a detective for your own business - looking for clues and solving the mystery of 'which search engine marketing is best for small business owners?'

Step 1: Use Analytics Tools. Google Analytics is your best friend here. It will give you information like how many people visit your website, which pages they look at, and how long they stay. These insights can help you understand what's working and what isn't.

Step 2: Review your Google Ads Performance. Google Ads also provides detailed reports about your ad performance. You can see things like how many times your ad was shown, how many people clicked on it, and more. This can tell you a lot about whether your ads are effective.

Step 3: Make adjustments. Based on the data you gather, you can start making adjustments to your SEO/SEM strategy. Maybe you need to tweak your keywords, or perhaps your website could use some improvements. The key is to keep testing and learning from the results.

Remember, SEO and SEM aren't set-it-and-forget-it strategies. You need to constantly monitor and adjust them to get the best results. And when you do it right, you'll find that it's a powerful way to grow your small business.

SEO/SEM Tools and resources for small businesses

As a small business owner, you might be wondering, "Which search engine marketing is best for small business owners like me?" Well, there are plenty of tools and resources out there that can help you answer that question. Here are some to get you started:

1. Google Keyword Planner: This is a great tool for finding keywords related to your business. It also shows you how often people search for these keywords and how much competition there is for them. It's a bit like having a treasure map for the world of SEO and SEM.

2. Moz Pro: This is an all-in-one SEO toolset that helps you improve your search engine ranking. It offers features like keyword research, site audits, and backlink analysis. It's like having a personal trainer guiding you through your SEO workout.

3. SEMRush: This tool is a favorite among SEO experts. It helps you do everything from tracking your website's ranking to spying on your competitors' strategies. It's like having a secret agent on your side.

4. Google My Business: This free tool allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. It's especially useful for local SEO.

Remember, the best SEO/SEM strategy is the one that works for you and your business. So, don't be afraid to try out different tools and approaches until you find what works best for you. After all, every small business is unique — and so is the path to successful search engine marketing.

If you're eager to expand your knowledge on digital marketing strategies, we recommend checking out the 'Social Media Marketing 101' workshop by Faira. While it focuses on social media marketing, it complements the SEO strategies discussed in this blog post and will help you create a well-rounded online presence for your small business.