So what is SEO anyway?

what is SEO

 

Hello! Welcome to the first in our series of blog posts explaining just what this digital marketing malarkey is all about.

In this blog, we’re looking at SEO, or search engine optimisation as it’s formally known. You may have heard this term bandied about (or maybe you haven’t!) and are wondering what on earth it actually means. Well, wonder no more because we’ve produced this handy guide with everything you need to know! 

Search engines

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is fundamentally about getting search engines to send people to your website. You’ll have almost certainly heard of Google, which is by far the biggest of the search engines, but there are also others like Bing (Microsoft’s offering), Duck Duck Go and Yahoo. Our personal favourite is Ecosia, who plant trees when you search with them – how amazing is that?! 

Anyway, it’s crucially important that search engines can find your website because 80% of all purchases now start with an online search. That’s right, 80%! Even if you do most of your trade from a physical shop or office, the vast majority of your customers will have searched for your product or service online first. This makes it absolutely crucial that your website is appearing in the results for relevant searches. And not just anywhere in the search results either – 75% of searchers only look at the first page of results and pretty much nobody gets past the second page. This means that if you’re not on the first two pages, you’re basically invisible. Yikes ?

So, we hear you ask, ‘how do I get onto the first page of search results?’ 

Say hello to SEO!

The three main types of SEO

Google and the gang currently use over 200 different factors to determine who appears at the top of search results. They also like to change these periodically to keep us all on our toes (cheers Google). However, SEO can broadly be broken down into three key areas: technical, content and link building. Let’s look at each type in a bit more detail.

Technical SEO 

This is where we get, erm, technical. While your website might look the part to visitors, there are various things going on in the background that determine how well search engines can ‘read’ each web page. This is where you might hear us SEO types refer to meta descriptions, alt attributes, and title tags. By optimising the technical data behind your website, you effectively say ‘Hey, look at my site, it’s got relevant information for you!’ whenever a search engine comes by. This stage of the game is also about how usable your website is. Search engines want to ensure that the pages they send people to provide a good user experience. How fast your website loads, how many clicks people need to take to find relevant information and whether or not there are any broken links all come into play here.

Content 

Once you’ve got your website performing its best, it’s time to look at the content you’re posting. Search engines like fresh content that is easy to read, highly relevant to the search term and well structured.

It’s a good idea to keep the content on each page really focused on one topic or ‘keyword’ as it’s known in SEO. This stops your own web pages competing with each other in the same searches. 

It’s also recommended that you have at least 300 words per webpage (as long as it makes sense for the page in question). This tells search engines that the page has lots of juicy information that will be relevant to the searcher, rather than just a tiny bit.

Ultimately, producing really high quality, well-written content is what you should be aiming for. Focusing on this will get you a good portion of the way towards your SEO goals. However, like everything with SEO, there are many levels of technicality that you can delve into. An SEO professional can put together a content strategy that takes into account keyword optimisation, readability and all the technical data referred to above. 

Link building 

So you’ve got amazing content and your website is giving Google a cheeky wink every time someone performs a relevant search – why aren’t you appearing at the top of the search results yet? Well, a major factor in determining who appears above who in the rankings is domain authority. And a major factor in determining domain authority is how many backlinks you have.

Erm, backwhatnow? A backlink is a link to your website from another website. They tell search engines that not only do you think your site is fantastic, but so do other people. 

Which brings us to the question ‘how do I get lots of lovely backlinks?’. The simple answer is….ask. A big part of building backlinks is simply getting in touch with other website owners and asking if they would be willing to link to you. But, yeah, you guessed it, there’s a whole other level to this as well. 

Search engines treat backlinks from other sites with high domain authority as more valuable than those with low domain authority. What’s more, they will actively penalise you for backlinks from websites which are considered very low authority, or ‘toxic’. Eek! How can you tell which is which?! 

The websites of big brands will almost certainly have high domain authority, but you’re going to have a tough job getting them to link to your site. So who should you be targeting? This is where your friendly SEO pro can help. They will be able to identify websites with good domain authority that are relevant to your market. Plus, they can embark on a backlink building programme for you – ensuring you’re following best practice in terms of both link requests and producing content that is more likely to attract links. 

SEO made simple

So there you have it, SEO in a nutshell! It’s a challenging field that is constantly changing, but it makes a HUGE difference to your online visibility and therefore your bottom line. Plus, it is a great investment in more ways than one. Not only does increased visibility lead to increased sales, but it also means you will generally need to pay less for other types of digital marketing. Winner! Want to know more? Read our article on How to Write the Perfect Blog Post for SEO.

If you’d like help with your SEO then please do get in touch! We’re an SEO agency in Bristol who love nothing more than helping businesses rise up through the search rankings. If you ask really nicely we’ll even do a mini site audit for free ? Call us on 07518 716890, or fill in the contact form below.