What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the way in which you increase the number and quality of visitors to your website by improving rankings in the algorithmic search engine results.
All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results. This is where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t involved, as it is with paid search ads.
Research shows that websites on the first page of Google receive almost 95% of clicks and that the higher up on the page; the higher the click-through rate (CTR) is.
When you’re looking at the results in Google, the algorithmic (or, ‘natural, ‘organic’ and/or ‘free’) search results are those that appear directly below the top pay-per-click adverts in Google. And it’s not just business ads that can appear in the listings, other things such as map listings, video’s, the knowledge graph and more. SEO can include improving visibility in these result sets as well.
How Does SEO Work?
Google are brutal judges and score your website on relevancy and authority of the pages it crawls. Google uses over 200 signals in scoring their search results. SEO encompasses technical and creative activities to influence and improve some of those known signals.
Here’s how it works: Google (or any search engine you’re using) has a crawler. The crawler goes out and gathers information about all the content they can find on the Internet. The crawlers bring all those 1s and 0s back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all that data with your query.
For Google to do this, you need to make sure your website is accessible, technically sound and uses words that people type into search engines. Most importantly, Google looks to see if your website provides an excellent user experience.
When writing the copy for your website, you need to really consider who it is that will be searching for it, the language they would use and provide those visitors with expert content that helps answer those queries.
They use a hyperlink-based algorithm (known as ‘PageRank’) to calculate the popularity and authority of a page. And although Google is way more sophisticated today, this is still a fundamental signal in ranking.
SEO is generally split into two groups, the SE part, ‘Onsite SEO’ and the ‘O’ part, ‘Offsite SEO’; each involves technical and creative activities, but one can be performed on a website and the other away from the website.
So onsite SEO is as you would expect, it refers to activities on a website to improve organic visibility. This largely means optimising a website and its content to improve accessibility, relevancy and experience for users.
This might include:
- Keyword Research – analysing different words and the frequency in which they’re used. Think like a prospective customer and how they find brands services or products. You need to understand your prospective customers intent and what they expect from their search.
- Technical Auditing – ensuring that your website can be easily crawled and indexed by Google. It must be correctly geo-targeted and free from errors and user experience barriers.
- Onsite Optimisation – improving the website structure, internal navigation, on-page alignment and content relevancy to priories key areas and target relevant search phrases.
- User Experience – ensure your content is credible, trustworthy and authoritative. Make sure your website as a whole encompasses those points. As well as being easy to navigate, fast and ultimately ensure that it provides the best possible user experience compared to competitors.
And that’s the SE (search engine) part of SEO.
Now for the ‘O’ part, for Optimisation…
Offsite SEO is the activities that are carried out, outside of the website. You use link building, for example, to improve website organic visibility; this aims to increase the number of reputable links from other websites as Google uses them as a score of trust.
Links from websites and pages with more trust, popularity and relevancy will pass more value to another website, than an unknown, poor website that isn’t trusted by anyone, let alone Google.
Some offsite activities include:
- Content Marketing – (my favourite!) reputable websites like reputable content. Create exceptional content that will help attract links. This might include stories, visualisations, news, guides, research… anything compelling!
- Digital PR – it provides solid reasoning for websites to talk and link to other websites. Think of it as an internal news flow; writing for external publications, original research or studies, expert interviews, quotes, product placement and so on.
- Outreach and Promotion – this involves communicating with the outside world! Look at contacting key journalists, bloggers, influencers and webmasters about a brand, resource, content or PR to earn coverage and ultimately earn links to a website.
Obviously, those aren’t the only reasons a website might link to another. Plus, not all of them fit into the activities above. When looking at creating inbound links, it’s worth considering if the link is valuable, will it send visitors? Is the audience related to your product or service? If it’s a “no” to either of these questions, then it probably isn’t a link worth pursuing.
Bear in mind that link schemes, such as buying links, exchanging links excessively or low-quality directories, as well as articles that aim to manipulate rankings, are all against Google’s guidelines and they will penalise you for it.
The best approach to improve inbound links to a website is by earning them. If you provide genuine and compelling reasons for websites to link to your brand, or you find a website that’s worth citing and linking because of their extraordinary content, who they are and/or the service or product they provide, then link ‘em up!
Click here to win a free SEO audit of your website, worth £500!
Or if you don’t fancy tackling SEO yourself, fill in the form below and we will be in touch!