If you run a modern small business, you can’t afford to ignore search engine optimization. The set of techniques known as “SEO” for short are all about getting Google and the rest of the search engine gang to move your business up the search engine results page for relevant queries.

But how do you go about doing this, and what sorts of searchers could become your next customers? Here’s what you need to know about setting goals and getting results in the exciting world of SEO.

Relevance is everything

Google fields trillions of search queries every year. A quick look at Google trends will show you that some queries are searched millions of times. Being at the top of one of those search engine result pages would be wild: You’d get millions of clicks.

Highly trafficked search terms are the toughest to rank for, though. Besides, your business website isn’t going to convert a lot of searchers into customers if you target people searching for “Tom Brady,” for example (unless you run a sports collectibles shop that sells Tom Brady memorabilia). The best way to approach SEO is to target the right queries and keywords.

That means considering how your current and future customers will try to find you. Will they search for “auto repair,” “car maintenance,” or both? Will they search for “tailor” or “tuxedo rentals?” Keyword research is critical to exposure.

Keyword research is something that you can do using sites like Google Trends and other search engines and SEO resources. It’s also something that you can hire experts to do, though, and that might not be a bad idea (as we’ll see later on, experts can be a huge help in SEO). Just be sure to communicate your business goals so that the pros can line them up with your SEO goals.

Link to the future

A lot goes into great search engine optimization. But if you really want to move up the search engine results page, then you’ll want to turn to SEO experts who will give you a great link-building strategy.

Links are at the core of how search engines work; in fact, they’re how the “web crawlers” that search engines use to map the internet get around. Google considers links to be an indicator of a site’s quality (if you’re highly cited, Google reasons that you must be knowledgeable). However, the best link building company for you will also know that not all links are created equal. You need quality links from sites with high “domain authority” scores, so that Google will admire the links and move you up the rankings.

Understanding your progress

So, if you invest in SEO, you should fly right up the search engine results page, right? Not necessarily.

Unfortunately, SEO progress is a bit more slow-and-steady than that. Getting to where you want to go will take time and experimentation. Google isn’t apt to change its opinions overnight and, if you try to get it to do so, you could bring unwanted attention to your SEO tactics. The best SEO strategy focuses on white hat techniques that will gradually push your business into a better and better position in regard to search engines.

Outsource your SEO

Great search engine optimization is tricky. There are a lot of factors involved. Sure, links loom large, but they’re not all that matters: You have to worry about the text on your site, HTML code and commands, and so much more.

You don’t have time for all of that; you have a business to run. That’s why it’s a good idea to outsource your SEO to experts in SEO and digital marketing. With the right professionals in your corner, you can rest assured that you’re moving up the rankings while still focusing on the things that your business is really here to do.