Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is quite often thought of as one of the dark arts of digital
marketing. Whilst it’s based on science, no one knows the exact formula – other than a select few of our friends at Google. It’s certainly not as sexy or tangible as most other digital channels. There’s no polished social media content to show for your work and it takes longer to see the fruits of your labour. IT IS however, one of the easiest ways to connect with those consumers that are already looking for you (via Google or another search engine).
Before we go any further, please don’t confuse organic search rankings with paid ads – see the difference between the two below.
What is SEO?
SEO is all about building and updating your website so that it ranks higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Why is that important, you ask? Well, Google receives an average of 5.6 billion searches per day and to ensure that each customer finds what he or she is looking for, they serve those results and websites that are most relevant to each user.
There is an (almost endless) list of factors that contribute to search rankings, but let’s first focus on the three big buckets that have the most impact:
Website technical Simply put, the technical infrastructure of your website needs to be sound. Google won’t be driving people to your website if it’s slow, hard to navigate or glitchy. Just as you want to make your website easy for consumers to use, you also want to make it easy for Google. Page components like page titles (appear in your browser), meta descriptions (appear in your search results), H1 tags (page headings) and alt image tags (tell Google what your image is) all make it easier for Google to assess the relevance of your page content. You can even submit a sitemap to search engines to tell them where to find what on your website.
Content Your site needs to house, relevant, authoritative and original content. The more you can build up your domain as the ‘go-to’ on a certain topic, the more traffic Google will send your way. There are a number of tools available to identify what your consumers are searching within Google (Keyword Research) that will then inform you what content gaps you might have on your website. If your audience are searching for X, Y or Z (keywords) and your website doesn’t house anything relevant to these searches, you will not rank in the search results – these are known as content gaps. How to rectify this? Yep, you guessed it. Add or edit your site to include unique and relevant content that address these keywords.
Links The more credible third-party sites (i.e. websites other than your own) that link to your site, the better. This ties in closely with point number 2 as the more credible your content, the more likely others will be to cite your work. There are of course creative ways to do this (called link building) (i.e. digital PR and reciprocal schemes) but for the most part focus on your content with a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy. As highlighted above, SEO is a long-term game so don’t try any sneaky shortcuts. Immediate traffic is the role of lead generation.
This is a massively over-simplified guide to the three big umbrellas that impact SEO and you must remember that SERP rankings are not static numbers. They can change regularly based on things like competitor activity and algorithm changes. In the interests of keeping it simple, below is a demonstration of the importance of SEO and what that can mean for your website.
The ongoing process of SEO will slowly snowball over time. Whilst it is a longer-term strategy, the above demonstrates how each component is entwined with the others. For example, the better domain (website) authority, the higher your search rankings and the higher your click-through rate. All of which leads to higher site traffic.
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