The world of search engine optimisation, otherwise known as SEO can be difficult to understand with a lot of information and terminology that is often confusing for those trying to navigate this complex area of digital marketing.

We explain everything you need to know about SEO, from what it is and how it works to why it is important so that can understand how it can be used to improve your website and business. It can be daunting jumping into the world of SEO and reading tons of information that is confusing and misleading. Throughout our comprehensive guide, we can hopefully help you grasp the basics of SEO and help you understand how to get the most out of your website in organic search.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO is the process of optimising a website, its pages, and, content to make it more relevant for your target audience. Improving the relevancy of your site through various tactics will help increase its visibility and rank better in search engines like Google, bringing you more relevant organic traffic. 

Organic search is the most common way that users discover content online and it is essential to utilise SEO best practices to help ensure that your website can be easily found when your potential customers search for your services or products in Google. Leaving Google to make their own judgement on your site will restrict you from how often you appear and won’t lead to new customers finding you.

Whilst algorithms and SEO change and evolve frequently, there are 3 key pillars of Search Engine Optimisation which are reliable principles upon which you should familiarise yourself in order to regularly take action and keep on top of.

Technical Optimisation

If you’re new to SEO, this area may require some specialist attention as technical SEO focuses on areas’s that are not necessarily seen by users, but seen by search engine bots. This might include improving site speed, adding canonical tags, or making it mobile-friendly. These can all be tracked and analysed by various tools such as; Google Search Console, SEO auditing tools, Page Speed Insights, and many more.

On-Page Optimisation

On-page optimisation is the process of creating high-quality, relevant content that meets the intent of the searcher and provides a great user experience for visitors. This includes targeting the right keywords and using them to optimise content, meta descriptions, title tags, images, etc.

Creating content all starts with keyword research. You can use tools such as; SEMRush, Moz, AHREFs, and many more to help find relevant keywords that people regularly search for. Once you have a list of keywords, you can then start creating content around these keywords matching the intent of the user. It is extremely useful to analyse the search engine results page (SERPs), to see what content is ranking and look to create content that is 10 x better than what is currently ranking. For more information on this, visit our onsite SEO page.

Off Page Optimisation

This is the term used for the process of building your website’s authority, trust, and reputation within search engines through activities outside of the site itself. A key aspect of off-page SEO is link building, obtaining relevant and useful backlinks from other sites to yours that help to demonstrate to search engines that your site is valued. This process can be very difficult to find websites that would not only benefit their site, but also benefit yours.

Through the various SEO tools we use, we are able to collate lists of websites that we can reach out to, asking for opportunities to collaborate and acquire links from. This process is one that takes time, consideration, and perseverance to acquire a steady stream of links to your website. We offer link building services and have a team of inhouse SEO specialists that can help accelerate this process for you.

How Do Search Engines Work?

In order to fully comprehend SEO, it is helpful to have an understanding of search engines and how they work. 

The ultimate goal of search engines is to provide the best websites for queries that users place into search engines. For example, if a user searches for ‘Blue Nike Trainers’ and the SERPs show a completely different product, this does not match the intent and, therefore leaves a negative impact on the user. In order for search engines to provide correct and useful websites that meet the intent of the users, they need assistance from website owners to optimise each webpage clearly for what they want to appear for in search using onsite, offsite, and technical optimisation. 

The process of how a website identifies if your page is relevant for different queries is through three areas, which are:

Crawling a Website

Search engines use computer programs or ‘bots’ to crawl the web looking for new or updated and record information about them. The bigger, more trusted your website is, the more frequent a bot will come to your website looking for new content. You can see how often bots come to your website through Google Search Console > Settings > Crawl Stats.

Indexing a Website

Indexing and crawling quite often confuse people. Indexing is when your content is placed into a search engine indexed. The process of indexing takes place when a bot comes to your site, crawls your page, and is given a directive from your website such as ‘index, follow’ or ‘noindex, nofollow’. Search engines can choose to ignore the directive you have given on each page if they think the content should be indexed in Google.

Ranking a Website

Once the crawling and indexing phases are complete, the search engine determines which pages are the best in terms of relevance and quality and ranks them on its results page. This is where the fundamentals of onsite, offsite, and technical SEO all come into play. If you’re a new website that a search engine has never seen before, it’s going to take time for them to gain trust in your site, which is why we always recommend supplementing an SEO campaign with a PPC, social, etc for a new website to help give you a boost initially whilst the SEO builds momentum.

Source: Site Checker

Why Google is at the Forefront When it Comes to SEO

Although Google is not the only search engine, it is the most popular one by far (demonstrated by the graph below) and accounts for around 83% of the global search engine market. Because it is the dominant search engine, SEO typically revolves around Google and what works best for it which is why when people refer to search google and search engines interchangeably.

Source: StatCounter

Why is SEO Important?

In order to harness this potential traffic source, websites need to appear in the top search results for relevant, target keywords which is where SEO comes in. The correlation is very straightforward, the higher you appear in Google, the more visibility you have, which increases clicks/traffic and in turn, conversions. 

Here are just some of the many reasons why SEO is so important; 

  • Every day, people use search engines to conduct billions of searches for products, services, and information making organic search one of the biggest traffic sources for websites. 
  • SEO can be extremely cost-effective compared to other channels, spending on content production and the site itself rather than things like ads or paid socials. 
  • Appearing high up in search results builds trust, brand recognition, and credibility, leading to increased clicks and conversions. 
  • SEO compliments Paid Marketing or PPC, allowing websites to occupy more real estate in the search results pages. 
  • The best practices provided by SEO such as high-quality content and a great website help your overall marketing performance and user experience. 
  • SEO provides a scalable growth channel to obtain customers through the cycle of creating content that drives an output including rankings, traffic, and customer acquisition. 
  • By optimising for search, websites can stay on top of trends that reflect consumer behaviour changes as they rise and decline. 
  • SEO results are quantifiable and easy to measure so that you can gauge how your site is performing and if adjustments need to be made. 
  • Investing in SEO is key for keeping up with competitors, maintaining a competitive edge, or surpassing your competition in search results.