What is SEO?

SEO might be a term that you’ve heard thrown around, but you’re not quite sure what it means. Let’s do a whistle-stop tour of what it SEO stands for, what that means and how it works.

“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimisation

It’s the practice of optimising websites so that they show up in search engines when people search for stuff.

Before I got into digital marketing, I’d never thought about how Google worked. I assumed it was some sort of magic. The all-knowing Google simply knew exactly what you were looking for and dropped it in your lap.

Actually, a lot goes on behind the scenes to make that happen.

How search engines work

Search engines have their own index of all the pages on the web. They then use complex algorithms to choose which of the pages in their index to present to you when you type keywords into the search box.

Search engines create their indexes using crawlers

Also referred to as bots or spiders. These are software applications that access and analyse websites. They start at the homepage and follow the links on the website to determine its content and structure.

Think of little spiders crawling around the World Wide Web and reporting back to search engines.

So when a web page is published, it doesn’t automatically show up in Google. It needs to be crawled and indexed first.

Then, the algorithms kick in.

Google is constantly updating its algorithms to make sure it provides the most relevant search results from its index.

SEO is all about making sure your website can be crawled and knowing what search engine algorithms are looking for so that your website gets seen by more people.

SEO has loads of different aspects

As you might imagine, search engines take a lot a different factors into account when analysing websites.

Accordingly, SEO involves looking at and maintaining many different aspects of your website.

This includes technical aspects, such as site speed, mobile-friendliness and links, but also the written content, which tells search engines what your site is all about and shows that you are an authority within your industry.

SEO can be split into two broad categories

These are onsite and offsite SEO.

Onsite SEO looks at all the things that make your website good-quality, healthy and relevant (more on this in a minute).

Offsite SEO is pretty much all about other sites linking back to your website.

Google assigns every website something called a PageRank score, which is out of 100. The higher your score, the more chance you will rank well in search engine results.

Your PageRank score is determined by the number of other websites linking back to your site. Ergo, part of SEO is securing links back to your site, for example through digital PR, creating great content, and a whole host of other methods (this could be a whole blog post series by itself).

However, it’s more complicated than that, as not all links are created equal. The higher the PageRank of the linking site, the more value the link passes on to you.

Also, in the early days of SEO, people started taking the mick with link building to try and cheat Google’s algorithm. Google cottoned on and nowadays, your links need to be from industry-relevant sites, in your language, and basically not spammy, otherwise you’ll probably land a Google penalty.

Onsite SEO can also be split into two categories

Onsite SEO can be split into technical SEO and content.

Technical SEO ensures that your website can be crawled properly by search engines and has good usability from a technical standpoint.

This includes correct and optimised coding, maximised site speed, coherent site structure and a range of other measures.

Content SEO focuses primarily on written content. Search engine crawlers can only read html code and written text (as opposed to images, videos and JavaScript, for example).

This means that your written content needs to be on point for your website to rank.

Good SEO content is based on analytical keyword research, is optimised for said keywords and provides value for the user. Again – this could be another series of blog posts. Watch this space!

Why SEO?

Most businesses have a website, and if you have a website, then SEO helps you reach a whole world of untapped customers.

It helps your brand or company get seen by more people and puts you in front of customers who are already searching for your products or services.

As you might have gathered, SEO takes a lot of work and knowledge to do well, so it’s no surprise that many outsource to agencies and freelancers.

It can be well worth the investment.

If you’ve got any questions about SEO or about what you need to do to get your site hitting those Google top spots, feel free to get in touch. I’m always happy to chat all things digital marketing!

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