What is SEO?
Contents of post:
People are searching all day, every day but the real question is, will they find you in the search results? In this four-part series, you will learn about the fundamentals of SEO for small business.
Please note: Parts 2,3,4 will be published in the next two weeks!
In this first part, you will discover what search engine optimisation actually is and how SEO can help your business website increase visitor numbers.
In the second part of this post, we will explore SEO further by examining how keywords can help your SEO goals and look at how link-building can increase your position in the search engines.
In the third part of this series, you will understand how the search engines view websites, what SEO Local Search is and how you can use it to give you an advantage over your customers.
In the fourth and final part of this series, we shall explore what mobile SEO is and how to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
There is a lot to cover, so grab a hot drink and get comfy!
Understanding SEO or Search Engine Optimisation?
Searching is the gateway to just about everything we do on the web. If we have a problem, we use a search engine to solve it. You need a plumber to fix your boiler, I’m guessing you’re going to use Google to find the nearest and best one in town. If we’re in the market for a new product or service, we research it on the web and with the expansion of mobile devices we are no longer limited to where we carry out these searches.
In plain and simple terms (SEO) is the process of making improvements on and off your website in order to gain more exposure in the search engine results. More exposure in the search results will lead to more visitors finding you and going to your website.
What are the goals of the search engines?
Search engines are trying to find and understand all of the content out there on the web and then quickly deliver the relevant and authoritative results which are based on the phrases that you have entered.
What is relevance?
Firstly, let’s explore what relevance is. When a user searches for something like “hotels in London”, search engines want to show a list of results that are relevant to the users’ search. The search engines
will analyse all of the websites that they’ve visited and choose the pages which they believe are the most relevant to “hotels in London”.
How do the search engines determine relevance?
This is done by evaluating a lot of different factors, including how the content on your website is written, how the code is implemented and how other websites around the web are linking to your website. This is called backlinks(link here) and we will dive deeper into this in part two.
Google Algorithm in a nutshell
The Google algorithm, which we are interested in, is a large set of rules, which are complex and constantly changing. Within milliseconds, the Google algorithm is able to rank and display all websites in order of relevance to the phrase that was typed in by the users. This is very important to understand as the algorithm can make a super clear distinction between content that is about “hotels in London” compared to “places to stay in London”.
The search engines and algorithms are able to understand a lot about semantic and thematic connections between words and concepts, so it vitally important to get your keyword phrases to match what your visitors are searching for.
The other factor that influences search engine exposure is authority. But what is this I hear you ask?
Basically, out there on the world wide web, anyone can post anything which of course is a good thing but also a bad thing.
It is the search engines job to figure out whether your website is in good standing by looking at what other websites think of your website. The search engines determine the authority of your website by evaluating the links that point to your website and where these links are coming from.
For example, if you are a car tyre dealer and you write blog posts on the best winter tyres and then AutoTrader writes something similar and links to your post, this is good authority. AutoTrader is a trusted brand and authority and gaining a link from them would be fantastic for your SEO efforts. You can think of it as a vote of confidence for your website.
A link from a website that has only been live for a month is going to do nothing for you. From the perspective of the search engine, some links are more effective than others in casting their votes to your website and determining site authority.
Having a good understanding of both relevance and authority when it comes to SEO will help the search engines determine where your business should sit in the search results.
How Can SEO Help My Business Website?
For business, there are some very real and specific benefits to having an on-going, consistent search engine optimisation strategy. Searchers of the world are offering up their intent through the words they type into a search engine, this is great for us website owners as you can measure the results of your SEO efforts as a marketing channel.
Whilst the search engines do not actually charge you for listing your website, planning and implementing SEO for your small business is not free. You’ll need to spend the time, money and resources to do this the right way.
But wait, there is good news. With the power of SEO, you can obtain a good size marketing reach, attract more targeted visitors and measure the impact of your efforts, in terms of an ROI (return on investment).
With every second that passes more content is published to the web and your customers need search engines to help make sense of it all. As the web continues to grow, so does the search engines usage. People are searching for answers to their questions, to buy products, find new places to eat and get the latest news.
Searching whilst on the move
Just about everything we do online these days starts with a search and it is not just done around the family computer. With the explosion of smartphones, tablets and 4G connectivity this enables us to have access to search just about everywhere in the world.
What people search for says a lot about their intentions, or what sort of actions they would like to take at some specific point of time and in the past, this would have been the holy grail for marketers. Now we can see if someone searches for “hotels in London” or “Where to buy car tyres”, it has now become easier for us marketers to exactly understand what searchers are looking for.
As I have said in the above, it is the search engines job to provide searchers with the relevance and authority when providing results. And if you are a hotel in London, you will need to create content which is relevant, authoritative and well optimised for Google, but not keyword stuffing!
Good SEO can provide you with a good stream of targeted and intentional searchers. But better than that, one of the biggest benefits of SEO is being able to measure your efforts by way of website analytics to find out how successful your SEO is.
You can evaluate the effectiveness of your content in attracting new users through your sales funnel and can measure what these searchers do and what they don’t do on your website.
So, that was part one, well done you made it through! In the next part, we’ll be looking at
Overview of keywords
Thanks for reading, see you in the next part, which will be published next week!