What Is Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO is a tricky topic to get your head around, especially for someone with little to no knowledge of web design and development, or indeed digital marketing. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the intricacies of SEO. We’ll try to explain exactly what it is and – perhaps more importantly – how it can help your business.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at some useful terms to understand when talking about, or reading about SEO:
SEO: This stands for Search Engine Optimisation – and refers to the whole process of improving your website in order to rank higher in search engines such as Google and Bing.
Search Engine: Websites such as google or bing, that allow users to enter queries in order to search through the web.
SERP: This is an acronym for ‘Search Engine Results Page,’ and refers to the page a user is served upon entering a query into a Search Engine.
Search Terms: These are the words that a user enters into a search engine in order to find the website or information they are looking for.
Keywords: These are words or phrases that form the basis of an SEO campaign. These phrases are the relevant concepts or products that you want to show up in Google for. For example, if you were a Digital Marketing agency, one of your primary keywords might be ‘Digital Marketing Leicester.’
Ranking: This refers to your website’s position in Google or Bing search results, in relation to your keywords.
The Basics Of SEO
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Search Engine Optimisation is, in essence, a service that aims to make sure your website is up to the high standards required by search engines such as Google or Bing.
When you enter a search query into Google, for example, the results that appear aren’t chosen at random. In fact, there’s an intricate process and formula behind the scenes which Google uses to ‘rank’ websites against each other – with the purpose of showing you the most relevant results.
These ‘ranking’ factors can be anything from the speed at which your website loads, to the ‘quality’ of the content on the page. SEO, then, is about making your website the most relevant website possible, in order to push your website up the proverbial Google ladder. But, this isn’t something that can happen overnight.
How Long Can SEO Take Before I See Results?
SEO is in fact a long-term, arduous process and strategy that requires constant care and attention. For example, a website that was ranking on the first page of Google last month might be pushed back to page 3 by now. That’s just the nature of the beast. Not only can it take months for Google to ‘recrawl’ your website (which is when a Google bot scans through your website and looks for any updates, changes and new links), but if you consider that most of your competitors will be also focusing on their own SEO, it becomes a bit of a cat and mouse game to chase these top positions.
Generally, for this reason, agencies will offer longer contracts rather than simple monthly retainers. This is because it can take a couple of months to really see any traction with the campaign – and, if you haven’t had any SEO work done on the website before, Google tends to initially look unfavourably upon any sudden, large-scale changes to the website. This can lead to a temporary drop in traffic during the initial months, before these new changes are properly indexed and crawled by Google bots.
What Does An SEO Campaign Actually Involve?
There’s a lot of scope to any SEO campaign, and depending on your website, an SEO campaign can look very different from business to business. However, agencies will generally break down their service into two categories:
On-site optimisation refers to anything you do on the website itself to help improve the general quality and relevance of your site. This can range from the more technical side, such as minifying code (a process that involves making your website code more succinct and quicker for browsers to read and load) to the more visual, obvious optimisation, like content and keywords. All of the on-site optimisation is carried out with the intention of improving the overall quality and relevance of the website itself. Generally, agencies will create new, keyword-targeted pages each month, alongside running multiple audits across the site to pick up any technical issues such as broken or missing links.
Off-site optimisation is all of the work that goes on outside of your website. This can range from backlink building (which is the process of obtaining links from other high quality websites to link to your own) and optimising other platforms that are linked to your site, such as Google My Business. All of this brings value to your website, and tells Google it’s a site worth crawling. On top of that, it helps to bring in more traffic and users to your website through referrals.
How Does SEO Help My Business?
SEO helps in a number of ways, and not just by directly bringing in new organic traffic and leads to your website. You may have often heard that a website should be at the forefront of your digital marketing strategy – if you haven’t got a ‘base’ or online ‘shopfront’ for users to return to, you can’t run PPC campaigns effectively, and social media marketing won’t really be as optimised as it could be – there’s nowhere for your customers to actually go to convert. With this in mind, SEO is all about improving and optimising your website, meaning that the ‘essence’ of your digital marketing campaign can be as user-friendly and lead-focused as possible.
First and foremost, Search Engine Optimisation provides you with a user-friendly, highly optimised website that is designed with customer satisfaction and call-to-action in mind. Afterall, Search Engines are far more tailored to providing users with relevant, accessible content, so in order to optimise for Google, you need to optimise for users too – which is never a bad thing.