SEO is the word on everyone’s fingertips these days. If you’re not utilising it properly then you’re giving the advantage to your competitors without them even having to work for it. But what if you don’t know what SEO is, let alone how to use it? Don’t worry. We’re here to demystify things.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. This means doing things to your content and website to make it easier for search engines to find them and display them in their organic search results. Organic search results are those that appear because they are deemed the most relevant to the search carried out. This is in contrast to paid results, which are usually displayed above organic search results. There are various ways you can optimise your content and we will look at some of the different methods you can use shortly.
Why is it important?
Unless you enjoy shouting into a void, SEO is very important indeed. You can have the slickest website oozing the best content but it will all be pointless if no one knows it’s there. SEO helps you get found. It increases the traffic to your website as well as the click-through rate to your content. The vast majority of clicks on search engine results go to those webpages that rank on the first page. And to rank on the first page? You need SEO.
How does it work?
Search results are determined by how relevant and authoritative your website or content is. Search engines like Google have bots that crawl all over webpages in order to index them. This index is then used as a reference point to decide which results are most relevant when someone carries out a search. Google’s algorithm is something of a secret sauce in that no one’s exactly sure what it is. However, we know what it is not: keywords alone. While in days gone by you could get away with stuffing your content with keywords willy nilly, that’s no longer the case.
Google works hard to provide its users with the answers to their queries. If your website isn’t doing that, it’ll soon find itself at the bottom of the heap. Factors such as quality content, solid accessible websites, positive user experiences, and natural use of the keywords people are searching for all go towards determining your status. As do inbound links, which are also known as backlinks. These are links shared on other websites that direct back to your content. Backlinks from authoritative websites are something Google takes a lot of notice of when deciding your ranking.
Types of SEO
SEO comes in different shapes and sizes. Broadly, however, it can be broken down into:
This refers to anything you do on your website to help get it noticed by search engines and awarded authority. Using keywords naturally is part of this. While you don’t want them overflowing from every paragraph, you do need Google’s bots to be able to understand what you’re about. Keyword placement is an art form that, when done right, can reap dividends.
Technical considerations are also important for on-site SEO. Making sure your website is free of glitches and errors and is easy to navigate all help to improve user experience – which Google takes very seriously. Demonstrating your expertise is also key. Producing top-quality, valuable content that will satisfy your website’s visitors is one of the most important aspects of on-site SEO. We know it’s not a quick fix. But it is a long-term one.
As the name suggests, off-site SEO is anything that takes place off your website to help build visibility and authority. A large part of this is building up your backlinks. Backlinks – or inbound links – are one of the main ways search engines determine whether you’re to be taken seriously. But as we mentioned above, not all links are created equal. If they’re not from reputable, trusted websites, then they will prove either irrelevant or detrimental to your ranking. Quality links are the name of the game.
The best way to build up a stock of strong backlinks is to post content that people will want to share. The more unique, the better. If you’re an expert in your field, put the time in to produce articles or papers that others will be able to refer to or use for research. If you’re a local site, post content that relates to topical local issues or happenings. There is no one size fits all. You need to look at your website and decide what you can produce – or produce better – to make people want to visit it.
This side of SEO often gets overlooked by businesses, to their own detriment. If you have a company with a base in a specific place then getting your local SEO sorted can only benefit you. This optimisation targets your local area, aiming to get you listed in the top results when someone searches for a product or service plus the name of your town or city. Factors such as getting your business listed in local directories, setting up your Google My Business, and tailoring your content to have a local flavour are all great ways to improve your local SEO.
Need help with your SEO?
We hope this article has helped give a brief overview of the basics of SEO. If you’d like help optimising your website or content – or brand new content written with optimisation in mind – then please feel free to get in touch.