What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and in short, it is an extremely powerful tool used for boosting rankings in search engine results and increasing website traffic. It targets unpaid traffic (rather than paid traffic where you pay to be in that space) which will bring in new visitors to your website who would not have visited otherwise.

SEO involves following a set of processes which are designed to improve positioning and visibility of web pages in organic search results (such as Google or Yahoo, with a goal of gaining more organic traffic. Appearing early or high up in search results is extremely important if you want to boost your online traffic. If your website is not appearing within the first few results of a search, the likelihood of your website being clicked on falls dramatically. If, however, you invest in SEO you can rank above your competitors and your website will be more likely to be clicked on over theirs.

To put it simply, SEO is all about fulfilling a user’s search needs by creating high quality, relevant content and providing the best user experience possible. It is considered an essential marketing activity in today’s fast paced and heavily crowded digital world. It has become an extremely complex and tedious process to work through all of the current SEO ranking factors (parameters that affect a web page’s ranking), as to date, there are now more than 200 factors to consider! Factors that can affect a web page’s ranking include; keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, keywords in the URL, content length, image alt text, incoming links, outgoing links, user dwell time, web loading speed and so on.

How does SEO work?

SEO involves activities that can take place both onsite and offsite. You may often see SEO is sometimes divided into categories (on-page / off-page). SEO typically involves:

  • Keyword Research (identifying relevant keywords with good search traffic potential)
  • Content Creation and optimisation
  • Link Building (relevant links from high quality websites)
  • and Technical optimisation (completing activities on-site to improve SEO which aren’t related to content)

Keyword Research for SEO

Before you can begin optimising your website and its content, you need to know what exactly it is that you want your website to be found for, and what keywords are relevant. These keywords and phrases are what will make it possible for people to find your website via search engines.

To develop your list, you will need to know how people are currently finding the products, services or information online that you are / will be offering. Because keywords are so detrimental to all of the other SEO efforts, it is worth the time and investment to ensure that your keywords are highly relevant to your audience. There are many free online tools that can help you with developing your keyword list. They can help you find the most relevant keywords that will drive traffic to your site.

Diversity is a key word in the keyword world. You won’t stand out if you find yourself using all of the exact same keywords as your competitors. Feel free to experiment based on your own research, and see if there’s another angle you can take to stand out.

Once you establish your list of keywords (the amount of keywords wholly depends on the size of your website and how much content and pages you have) you can then begin injecting these words, phrases and search terms into your website, in order to get SEO results. But how?

Your keywords should be used in various high-attention areas on your site. This includes everywhere from titles, to the body text of pages, to your URLs, image alt-tags and meta descriptions.

Last but not least, keyword research for SEO should be an ongoing and ever-evolving part of your marketing. You should reevaluate your old keywords frequently, as pages/articles with competitive keywords can eventually be replaced with other websites’ content.

Creating Content for SEO

Are you keeping your website up to date with relevant and useful content? Producing new, relevant web pages (whether this be pages or blogs) frequently will keep your website content and positioning on par or above other competitors that are doing the same thing in your category. Ultimately, you want your website to provide content that users aren’t able to find anywhere else on the internet. You should ask yourself questions such as: Does the content cover enough depth to the users? Does the content cover enough relevant topics? Is it up to date and presented clearly? Take a news website for example, it is only beneficial to the user if it is reporting the most recent and important news events.

Your keyword research will play a large part in your content creation, and you should use this list to optimise it. To rank well in search results, your content needs to appear in the top 10 results of a given topic. Each search result page will show you 10 organic search results (known as SERP), and this is where you want to be appearing.

As Bill Gates predicted in 1996, ‘Content is King’, and when you search for content online, the search engine will deliver you with the top results that it feels is most relevant to you. It will direct you to the best content it can find, which means that the most important factor with SEO is great content. It is also worth noting that your content will be ranked based on four aspects; readability of the content, SEO, originality and tone of voice.

Link Building in SEO

Link (or hyperlink) building, which is also known as backlinks, is the process of using relevant links from high quality websites with your website – it is an important aspect within SEO. A link is a connection between two different pages on the internet. Using link building is another way of helping search engines find and rank your web pages. Link building can be links of your website that are placed on other websites, referring users to your website and pages. This also works for the other way around, it can be links that appear on your website that refer users to another website.

Popular examples of the types of links to and from your website can include:

  • Blog posts
  • In-depth guides
  • Ebooks
  • Visual assets (like infographics)
  • Case studies
  • Original research and data
  • Social media profiles
  • Business directories
  • Forums, communities, and Q&A sites (like Quora)

Search engine robots follow links to discover pages around the internet, this is also known as ‘Crawling’. In order for a robot to find your website page, you’ll need at least one link to it from another website that was previously crawled. You could write the best content for a page or article you’ve ever written, but if the search engine bot can’t follow at least one link to it, nobody is going to find it.

The more links to and from your web page, the better – but, remember that the quality of the links are important, you don’t want links negatively affecting your site. If a page gets a lot of high-quality backlinks, then search engines will rank the page higher as it must be a good / popular page.

Technical Optimisation in SEO

Technical optimisation in SEO is part of ‘on-page SEO’. A technically sound website has fast loading times and is easy for search engine robots to crawl. Common tasks associated with technical SEO include:

  • Submitting the sitemap to Google
  • Creating an SEO-friendly site structure
  • Improving the website’s speed
  • Ensuing the site is mobile-friendly
  • Finding and fixing duplicate content

Things to know about SEO

  1. SEO is not a quick fix, and the results won’t appear immediately. It is a long-term solution to improving your search engine rankings, and the results may take months before you see a real difference.
  2. SEO is more than just installing a plugin into your website. The plugin will give you useful tools, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your website has now become ‘SEO friendly’. You will need to put the work in alongside this to see results.
  3. SEO is an ongoing process. Search engine optimisation is an ongoing process and even if you eventually rank in the top spot for your keywords, you will need to frequently create new content to keep up with competition.

We offer SEO and marketing services to both our existing web clients and new clients, so if this is something you are interested in, please get in touch for more information!