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Google On Small Business SEO & How it’s Changing

Google’s John Mueller suggests the way small businesses do SEO is changing in a way that industry experts aren’t keeping up with.

Much of the content on the web aimed at helping small businesses is based on an “old school” way of doing things, Mueller says.

He goes on to explain how experts can shift their messaging and adapt it to the way small businesses are most likely to approach SEO.

This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on October 8, 2021.

A person writes in who just started to learn SEO in preparation for the launch of a small business website.


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They ask Mueller for some guidance in this area, which leads to him commenting on the old school nature of the advice they’re likely to find online.

Google’s John Mueller on Small Business SEO

In response to the question, Mueller says there’s many helpful SEO starter guides published on the web by industry experts.

The advice tends to be accurate, Mueller says, as there’s not much false information out there about the very basics of SEO.

However, the beginner’s guides are out of touch with how businesses build and optimize websites.

This can be confusing to someone starting out who is using a simple site builder and the starter guides talk about optimizing HTML pages.


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Mueller explains:

“The tricky part with all of these starter guides, at least the ones that I’ve seen, is they’re often based on an almost old school model of websites where you create HTML pages.

For the most part, small businesses when they go online they don’t create HTML pages anymore they go into WordPress, or into Wix, or into any of the other common hosting platforms, and they create their pages by putting text in, and dragging images in, and all of these things.

And they don’t really realize that in the back there’s actually an HTML page.”

Starter guides are more technical than they need to be, Mueller continues.

While many beginner’s guides talk about writing HTML code to adjust title elements, small business SEO is primarily filling in fields.

“So sometimes when you go through these starter guides it can feel very technical, and not really map to what you’re actually doing when you’re creating these web pages.

Because when we talk about title elements, for example, you don’t look at the HTML anymore and try to tweak that. But rather you try to find the field in whatever hosting system that you have and think about what you need to put there.

So that’s something where I think, over time, things will probably shift a bit to cover that area a little bit better.”


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If you’re writing content for people practicing SEO at the beginner level, the key takeaway here is to make it less technical.

Teach beginners how to customize their site’s appearance in search results by manipulating fields in a CMS, rather than writing code.

For small businesses and beginners, Mueller asks you to keep in mind that SEO is less daunting than it seems.

“But it’s something to kind of keep in mind that the SEO starter guides, when you look at them, they might feel like super technical, but actually the work that you do is a lot more like filling in fields, and making sure that the links are there, and things like that.”


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Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:

Featured Image: Dragon Images / Shutterstock

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