Planning - the most critical part!
You can see this happening all the time with small business web design. Someone is setting up a small business and says 'I need a website' and I want it to look like this and maybe I'll have some of those fancy widget things that show the weather or the traffic news or whatever. The site gets built and tested and published and then just sits there waiting for people to find it. For a while the owner goes round telling all his friends about his wonderful new site and the traffic to the site will spike for a few days whilst his friends admire his site but after a while the traffic tails off because no-one is actively looking for the things the site has to offer and maybe no-one is really sure what the site is targeting in the first place. There is no need for this to happen if some careful planning goes into the website design from the start.
Obviously you have in mind the sort of customers you want to attract for your business or service but do you know how they might set about finding you in a search engine. What are the keywords that people may enter in local searches for your product or service? Some of the obvious keywords may be highly competitive and you will find it very hard to compete with the big players. A better small business seo strategy may be to optimise for a less obvious keyword or string of words.
If you've read this far you'll know by now that I specialise in targeting for local searches for small businesses. Lets say you have a small business in York making cupcakes and you want to target customers within easy driving distance of your business so that you can deliver your wonderful cakes to them. Starting with a keyword phrase of 'cupcakes York' I will look at what actual local searches people are entering on Google in order to find cupcakes in the York area. These may mention 'delivery' or 'weddings' or all sorts of things. I will build up a list of possible keywords that may be relevant to your site, look at the competition and plan how each page of your site might be related to that keyword or set of keywords. For example you might have a page specifically for wedding cupcakes and another page for delivery. That way people can find your site for 'wedding cupcakes' or 'cupcakes delivered'.
These keywords with multiple words in them are known as long-tailed keywords for example 'affordable web design York' and are much easier to optimise for and compete for than single word keywords such as 'websites' or 'cupcakes' for example.
A little bit of planning at this stage means that you know exactly what sort of local searches each page is going to be targeted at and that helps when writing the content including the text for titles, headings and the captions for pictures.