Our 8 part guide on all aspects of SEO, from how search engines work to the effects of UI and UX.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a commonly used practise which involves optimising a website or webpage to drive more quality traffic to a website via search engines, such as Google’s organic results. A website which has been correctly optimised and ranks highly in search engines will see more search traffic each month and hopefully in turn increase the number of enquiries generated through the website.
- SEO is the process of optimising a website to increase visibility and ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
- It involves technical optimisation, content creation, link building, keyword research & mapping and monitoring/measuring success with KPIs & analytics.
- To succeed in 2023 businesses must adhere to search engine guidelines using white hat SEO practices and decide between outsourcing or managing in-house based on budget & expertise.
The Importance of SEO in 2023
In 2023, the importance of SEO cannot be overstated. With the ongoing advancements in technology and changing user behavior, SEO has become more than just a tool; it’s a vital lifeline for businesses seeking to thrive in a densely populated online marketplace.
The internet could be seen as a library, and Google is the librarian, holding 92% of the search engine market share. This dominance makes it crucial for businesses to optimize their websites according to Google’s algorithms. It’s like learning the language of the land to communicate effectively and reach a wider audience.
Changing User Behavior
User behavior on the internet is constantly evolving. In today’s digital age, a whopping 67% of B2B buyers begin their buying process with a comprehensive web search. This shift underlines the increasing importance of SEO as a critical tool in a business’s digital marketing arsenal.
Furthermore, the rise of local searches adds another layer to the SEO landscape. The number of searchers visiting a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search is stunning – 72% This indicates that they have been influenced by their online searches. It’s like customers using a digital compass to find their way to the nearest store, making local SEO a crucial strategy for businesses to attract these navigation-savvy customers.
The Dominance of Google
Imagine being marooned on an island, and the only way to communicate with the rest of the world is through a single radio channel. That’s what it’s like for businesses trying to reach online users in a market where Google holds a 92% share. Therefore, optimizing for Google’s algorithms is critical for businesses to achieve success online.
How do search engines generate results?
The easiest way to understand search engines is to view them as massive digital libraries which contain millions of articles and content in the form of webpages. When you enter a search query, the search engines plough through their indexes of content on each website to look for the most relevant information using algorithms. Although no one knows precisely how the search engine’s algorithms work, Google does disclose elements of information, and from this, we start to understand what is required when it comes to SEO Services, a more detailed guide on how search engines work can be found here.
How does SEO work?
The primary objective with SEO is to demonstrate to the search engines that your content provides the answers for the topics in specific search queries. The reason for this is relatively straightforward; all search engines want to provide the most relevant and best results for their users. However, how you do the SEO will depend on the search engine that you are targeting – usually Google or in the case of videos, YouTube. Naturally, it would help if you targeted your SEO to suit their algorithms to achieve the best results.
Basics for optimising for Google
Although we don’t know how many ranking factors Google has, it is commonly accepted that it is over 200 with 10,000 once mooted. We know some of these factors because Google has told us and in other cases because there are factors that are accepted within the industry. One of the most crucial points that you must understand is that Google ranks individual webpages as opposed to entire websites. As such, you don’t have to include your target SEO keyword on every page. Indeed, we would recommend that you target different keywords on different pages.
What are the main SEO ranking factors?
1. How easy is it for Google to crawl your webpages?
For Google to be able to display your webpage in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), it first needs to know that your content exists. The primary way which Google does this is by crawling, which is merely following links to and from pages that it has visited before. It is done by a program called a spider, and the spider would follow a backlink on one of your webpages, for example, the homepage, to a page that has already been indexed by Google. From here, Google discovers the content on that page and adds it to its index as well as following internal links to discover other pages on your site.
It normal circumstances, this is relatively straightforward, but some factors can stop the crawlers in their tracks including low-quality internal links, “nofollow” internal links and blocks in robot.txt. It is therefore essential that you check all your links carefully.
2. Is your site mobile-friendly?
More than 60% of searches are conducted on mobile devices, and this is something which is continually increasing. In 2016, this was recognised by Google and became a ranking factor with mobile-first indexing introduced in 2017. It, therefore, makes sense, that when a user visits your site from a mobile device, they wish to see a mobile version of the site. It is estimated that in the region of 80% of users click off a site if a desktop version is displayed. As Google’s objective is to satisfy its users, websites which display the desktop version will be penalised.
It is quite easy to check if your webpages are mobile-friendly if you use Google’s own mobile testing tool.
3. Page loading speed
It is generally accepted that with the pace of the modern world, people expect an immediate response, so it is no surprise that page loading speed is one of Google’s primary ranking factors. It is once again apparent that your page loading speeds need to be checked and you can do this using Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool.
In the Performance Report, you should look for any pages that are loading slowly and then try to establish the reasons behind it such the images are too large, or it has been poorly optimised.
4. Search Intent
It is a simple task to find the keywords that you should wish to rank for if you use a keyword research tool. Look for the most relevant keywords and make a decision based on search volume. However, your page must align with the keyword that you have chosen. If it is not related to the article and irrelevant, it is unlikely to be ranked by Google.
To illustrate the point of search intent, we can use the example of “Thai food recipes”.
We can then compare this to the results generated is we entered “Thai Food Bangkok”.
Although the searches, on the face of it at least, would appear similar; the results are very different with one only showing recipes and the other listing the local restaurants. Google has tried to interpret what the user’s intention was when they submitted the query. It is therefore vital that when you use keywords, that they are relevant to what you are offering.
We discuss more about Search Intent and Keyword Research in our SEO guide here.
Although backlinks may not play as important a role as they used to, they are still critical when it comes to determining the relevance of your website. Backlinks are essentially votes, and the more votes your page has, the higher it will rank with a clear correlation noted between referring domains and organic search traffic as shown below.
Although links are relatively straightforward to obtain, quality links are significantly harder to find, and you should always aim to build links to your content that contains the most relevant information. Alternatively, you could do a Google search for your target keyword and look for pages that contain inferior quality content. You should then reach out to those sites, explaining why a link to your content would be more beneficial to them, while at the same time building a new link to your site. We discuss link building in SEO as one of our chapters in our SEO guide.
6. Domain Authority
Quality backlinks are links that carry more weight and influence, and this built-in to how PageRank works are shown in the diagram below:
It would help if you always tried to include backlinks from high-authority pages although unfortunately, knowing which pages carry more authority can be challenging as Google removed public PageRank scores back in 2016. However, Ahrefs have produced a similar tool called URL Rating (UR). The UR rating is on a scale of 0-100, and there is a positive correlation between UR and organic search traffic.
Your webpage’s authority is not only boosted by backlinks but also internal links with can contribute to the authority of a page.
7. Quality content
There is no replacement for quality content and Google searches for content that offers expertise and authoritativeness as well as being viewed as trustworthy and reliable. When you write content, it should be aimed at a 7th or 8th-grade reading level with a focus on shorter sentences and paragraphs. Naturally, useful resources links should also be included where appropriate.
We discuss how to write SEO friendly content in Chapter 4 of our SEO Guide.
How does SEO ranking work?
We know that Google takes several factors into account, which can influence different SERPs. Factors include location, previous searches, along with the user’s search settings. For example, you could search for “chips recipe” in the UK and in again in the US, and the search results generated would be very different. The reason for this is that the same word carries two different meanings in the different locations.
In most cases, rankings within the first 2-3 pages (20 – 30 results) will fluctuate daily, as most webpages are competing for the top organic positions and each business will be making changes to on-page and off-page SEO.
When looking at SEO rankings, you are ultimately looking at the result of the past 1 – 3 months’ work, therefore it’s important not to panic if you do see a slight drop, the likelihood is it will recover and hopefully improve with consistently good quality SEO work.
Keyword Research and Selection
In the world of SEO, keywords are the terms and phrases that potential customers use when searching for information related to your product or service. It’s like planting signposts along the way to guide users to your website.
Choosing the right keywords is like choosing the right bait for fishing. The right keywords will lure the right audience, and long-tail keywords can even help you avoid competition.
Remember, keyword research is not a one-time task, but an ongoing process that requires continuous refinement and adaptation to the changing SEO landscape.
Identifying Target Keywords
Identifying target keywords is like understanding the language of your customers. It involves understanding user intent and selecting relevant keywords that align with your website’s goals. It’s like tuning into the frequency of your customers’ thoughts and preferences.
Choosing the right keywords is like choosing the right location for your shop. Just as a shop in a prime location attracts more customers, a website optimized for the right keywords attracts more organic traffic.
Remember, the keywords you choose, including search queries, are the foundation of your SEO strategy, and they play a significant role in determining your website’s visibility and ranking on SERPs. By carefully analyzing your search results, you can refine your approach and improve your website’s position on SERPs.
Optimising Content for Keywords
Once you’ve identified your target keywords, the next step is to integrate them into your content in a strategic manner. This involves incorporating them into the Meta Tag (a collective name for the follow):
- Page content and headers
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Other on-page elements
Keyword optimisation is not just about inserting keywords wherever possible. It’s about creating a seamless integration of keywords into your content that enhances readability and relevance. Just as a well-placed signpost can guide travelers more effectively, well-optimized content can guide users and search engines more effectively to your website.
Is SEO worth it?
If you’re in an industry where your products or services are being searched for the SEO should be your number one priority. There is simply no substitute for ranking in the top positions organically. That being said, you should also look to augment your marketing with other channels, Google Ads, Facebook Marketing etc.
To be successful at SEO, you must have a comprehensive knowledge of how the search engines work. It will help you to create content that is relevant to your target audience. Although Google’s algorithms frequently change, this should be kept in perspective, and you should focus on being consistent and using quality backlinks along with becoming an authority within your niche.
Monitoring and Measuring SEO Success
In the SEO journey, monitoring and measuring success by tracking relevant KPIs and utilizing SEO tools and analytics to gain insights into traffic, engagement, and conversions.
SEO Companies constantly monitor their KPIs and use analytical tools to evaluate their SEO efforts. This not only helps them understand their current position but also enables them to make data-driven decisions and adjustments to their SEO strategy.
SEO Tools and Analytics
Navigating the vast nuances of SEO can be challenging. That’s where SEO tools and analytics come in. SEO tools and analytics provide insights into a website’s performance, enabling data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement.
From free tools such as Google Analytics to Google Search Console and monthly subscriptions such as Ahrefs, these tools help monitor traffic, engagement, and conversions, providing a clear picture of your SEO efforts’ effectiveness.
Avoiding Black Hat SEO Techniques
In the world of SEO, not all strategies are created equal. While white-hat SEO practices adhere to search engine guidelines, black hat SEO techniques violate these guidelines and attempt to manipulate search engine algorithms. It’s like the difference between fair play and cheating in a game.
Just as cheating can lead to disqualification in a game, black hat SEO techniques can lead to penalties and damage a website’s reputation. It’s not just about playing the game; it’s about playing it right. By adhering to ethical SEO practices, businesses can ensure sustained growth and success in the digital marketplace.
Outsourcing vs In-House SEO Management
Implementing an effective SEO strategy can be a daunting task, but it’s one that businesses can’t afford to ignore. The question arises – should you manage your SEO in-house, or should you outsource it to an SEO agency? The answer depends on various factors, including budget, expertise, and long-term commitment.
Each website requires a tailored approach to SEO. Whether you choose to manage your SEO in-house or outsource it to an SEO agency, the key is to ensure that your SEO strategy aligns with your business goals and delivers the results you seek.
Its clear that SEO is more than just a tool; it’s a vital lifeline for businesses seeking to thrive in the digital marketplace. By understanding the basics of SEO, implementing an effective strategy, conducting thorough keyword research, monitoring and measuring success, and avoiding black hat techniques, businesses can enhance their online visibility and reach their target audience more effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SEO and how it works?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimising a website’s technical configuration, content relevance and link popularity to make its pages easier to find in search engine queries and rank higher in search results.
SEO strategies can help to increase website traffic, thereby enhancing visibility and potentially leading to more customers.
What SEO means in marketing?
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization,” which is a process of improving your website so that it appears more prominently in search engine results, helping you market your business effectively.
This process involves optimizing your website content, structure, and code to make it easier for search engines to understand and index your website. It also involves building links to your website from other websites, which helps to increase your website’s visibility and authority.
How do I SEO my website?
To SEO your website, you should publish relevant content regularly, include metadata and alt tags, optimize your images, prioritize proactive indexing, create titles and descriptions for each page, utilize anchor text, give your site structure with headers, and write quality content.
Additionally, ensure your site is interesting and useful, cultivate user trust, make your expertise and authoritativeness clear, avoid distracting ads, and link wisely.
What are the key components of an effective SEO strategy?
An effective SEO strategy should include technical optimisation, content creation, and link building for maximum success.
How does keyword research contribute to SEO?
Keyword research helps identify the terms that potential customers use when searching for relevant information. It helps guide users to your website and improve its visibility in search engine results pages, making it a key element in successful SEO strategies.
By understanding the language used by customers, you can create content that is more likely to be found and clicked on. This can help you reach more potential customers and increase your sales.
For more information on SEO, you can contact us on 02 038 5400, and we will be happy to discuss your needs and requirements. We have extensive knowledge of SEO and digital marketing and can help you to achieve your goals.