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What is SEO?

6 min read

Back to Blog

6 min read

What is SEO?

Author: Kelly Baker with
Posted in Search Marketing on 5th July 2017 9:00 am

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a technical term given to the process of improving the search engine rankings of your website. Search engines provide links to websites they consider relevant and authoritative that match the user’s search query.

There are a number of search engines including Yahoo, Bing and YouTube, but the search engine that most businesses want to rank highly on is Google. Recent reports suggest that 77% of internet searches are made on Google.

The more ‘authority’ your website has the higher you will rank on the search engines. Authority is mostly measured by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages. In simple terms, your web pages have the potential to rank in Google so long as other web pages link to them. Building high quality links should be a key part of your SEO strategy.

Why is SEO important for your business?

The top three spots on Google organic get over 60% of the search traffic so this should be the ultimate objective for your SEO campaign. A good SEO campaign combines best practice techniques with a process of testing and refinement to slowly move your keywords from being indexed, to the first page and finally into the top three.

The higher up you appear in the search results the more brand awareness you will generate and the more traffic your website will receive. This should lead to an increase in sales and is the number one reason you should invest in improving your search engine rankings.

A more integrated campaign combines the longer term results of SEO with the immediate impact of a paid search campaign. Paid search, commonly known as PPC (pay-per-click), refers to the adverts which appear at the top and bottom of the search results pages which you pay for. PPC ads offer instant exposure for your brand, but come at a premium. Steadily improving your SEO rankings will allow you to reduce your paid advertising spend over the long term.

However, there is a strong argument that suggests investing in both paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) together as a long-term strategy can have additional benefits. When your brand is visible in both the organic results and the paid results for the same keyword, you are actually maximising overall visibility on the page. Dr. Varian, the Chief Economist at Google, and his team conducted research which demonstrated a 50% uplift in overall traffic when you appear in both the organic and paid results for the same keyword.

Finally, there is the satisfaction of moving your keywords up the rankings and watching your competitors ranking decrease as a result, effectively increasing your ‘market share’ of the search engine results pages.

Key on-page ranking factors

Where off-page (see below) refers to links coming in to your website, on-page refers to the structure and content on your website itself. Google scans your entire website and uses what it finds as part of its calculations to rank website pages for particular keyword terms.

Historically, SEO experts would optimise concerns such keyword density and meta tags when looking to maximise your on-page effectiveness. However, Modern SEO is more about encouraging users to stay on your website longer by providing a website that is full of rich content and easy to browse. If you make this the focus of your on-page planning you can expect Google to reward you with improved rankings.

Ensuring your on-page is setup correctly is always the first step in creating a powerful SEO campaign. The top five on-page factors you should look to improve are discussed by Dr Andy Williams in his recent book ‘SEO 2016 and Beyond’:

  • Quality content – Original, well-written and shareable blog, articles and website content. Ensuring content is kept fresh and up-to-date (released frequently).
  • Page load time – A website that loads quickly keeps people’s attention and Google recognises this as a positive contributing factor for SEO.
  • Internal linking – Creating a ‘web’ of internal links will allow for a smooth journey around your website, encouraging the user to stay and browse with ease.
  • Bounce rate – A low bounce rates suggests to Google that the user finds the content useful and therefore relevant against their search query.
  • Time on site -The longer people spend on your website, the more favourably Google looks upon your site.

How to build quality links (Off-page)

Once your on-page is correctly setup then the final piece of the puzzle is getting backlinks from other websites back to yours. When someone creates a hyperlink directed to your website this creates a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes, telling them that your content is of value. Most experts still believe that the benefit of high quality backlinks is still in the top 3 factors for determining how well your website ranks on Google.

One of the most successful ways to create backlinks and increase your website’s visibility on Google is through content marketing, and specifically guest blogging. Write a high quality blog article and submit it to another website to be published. Google will recognise this link and it will likely contribute towards an improvement in your search engine rankings.

Adapt to survive

Google’s mission is to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. It is this mission that drives them to ‘search’ for better solutions to finding information online. With more information available now than at any other time in history, the world needs powerful search engines that can provide us with fast, reliable and relevant sources of content.

As Google adapts to a changing world, we too as business owners and marketers must adapt our thinking and strategic planning to anticipate Google’s next steps. Google needs us to build great websites and deliver interesting and relevant content. Without content on the web there would be no Google.

Our recommendation is to ignore the quick wins available with so-called ‘black hat’ SEO and focus on providing quality content and a world-class website experience for your customers. Google will help you along the way but don’t expect a comprehensive guide from them any time soon.

If you would like to learn more about creating an SEO campaign for your business please contact us.

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