What is SEO?
And why it matters!
What is SEO? These three initials used to be the preserve of the nerds, a place where most of us would fear to tread. Now, if you don’t have a basic understanding of what is SEO, you’re going to be lost. Most webmasters and website owners, no matter how uninvolved with the mechanics of their site, will need to have a basic knowledge of search engine optimisation.
So, if you have ‘the knowledge’, turn away now. If you don’t, read on and we’ll try and explain it from top to bottom.
Search Engine What?
Search engines rules when it comes to the internet. The internet now has over a trillion pages within the network that is the worldwide web. A search engine is an index of the majority of those pages. Okay, some sites don’t want to be found (acting as secretive intranets) and some don’t care if they are found, or not (let’s say a hobbyist site setup for close members to share thoughts and ideas), but most sites do crave attention. And to get that attention, they need to be indexed.
Think of it this way – a library stocks a book. Most authors want to be in the library. That book can either be found because someone had indexed it and created a record of its place on a particular shelf, or a person browses and comes across the book. In the early days on the internet, browsing was popular and fun; you enjoyed the serendipity of it all. Now, however, the internet is so vast, and growing by the second, that you could spend a lifetime looking for the book you wanted on the shelves.
Thus, it all comes down to how the books are indexed and if the library holds billions of books with trillions of pages of information, the index had better be good.
And this is where Google came in. Before they appeared on the scene, searching the internet was a pretty haphazard process – it was hit and miss, and if you found a site you liked, you needed to keep a good record of its domain name, otherwise you might never find it again.
Google figured out that as more people took to the net and ecommerce grew in importance, then the search engines would have to be on top of their game and provide precise results for searchers.
Search Engine Algorithms
Google introduced complex algorithms which made the search process more exact – spiders (effectively pieces of software code) were set off to index sites which were posted on the web, following a series of precise instructions. Search engine algorithms are just that – a series of perimeters which are used to judge a site.
Search Engine Spiders
Search engine spiders will stress test a site and judge it accordingly. In crude terms, it will pose your site a set number of questions. Depending on how well your site answers these questions, depends on where it will be ranked within Google’s search results. So, for example, if the spider looks at the title of a given page (what you see in your browser bar) and then reads the content on the page, which turns out to have no relevance whatsoever, the spider is going to leave disappointed.
Google needs to index and judge, because if it doesn’t, then how does it decide which site best matches a web users’ search request? If you type in red trousers, you want to see results from companies which have sites about orange trousers; you don’t want to see companies offering double glazing.
But given that Google is the judge, every site is out there to impress their spiders and get the rank they think they deserve. What upsets webmasters and website owners most of all, especially those that operate ecommerce platforms, that unless they rank one through to ten (this is page one and the higher the better, as 75% of people never go to page two), their site will not attract the leads which they can then convert to sales.
Thus, the hallowed turf is Google Page, positions one to three – the rest, forget it!
However, not everyone can make those positions and common sense dictates that the competition for certain search terms is going to be immense.
In its purest sense, SEO strategy is at the heart of search engine marketing which will make a website rank near the top of the search engine ranks – thus, to be ranked properly, a site has to be optimised.
Keywords, What Are They Then?
Humans search on the internet by tapping a word, or group of words which best describes what they are after. If I’m after red trousers, I’ll tap those ‘key’ words in and see the results.
Webmasters build their sites to attract the keywords that most accurately reflect what they potential users are searching for. Thus, if I’m a tailor selling red trousers, my site, or part of my site, needs to show that it is focussed on red trousers. Then it stands a chance of being ranked properly.
Now, keywords used to be the main criteria on how a site was judged. They are still amazingly important, but now they have been joined by so many other parts of the algorithm, that relying on them entirely won’t work.
In the bad old days, webmasters would pack their sites with the same keywords over and over again, which made the site mainly illegible to the user and therefore pointless.
Keywords are just now a component – the algorithm now places a huge emphasis what’s known as the user experience, which comes down to how well a particular page copes with the surfers’ need to know more about red trousers. And underpinning the user experience, in the eyes of the search engine, is content. This basically means that content has to be both quality in nature (not waffle, ill-informed, or badly written) and relevant (on message and informative about red trousers).
As we say, keywords are just a small part of the SEO consideration and in the next section, we take a look just at SEO covers.
What Falls Within SEO?
People differ about this, but we see SEO content writing as the essential component within the mix. For us, it is the main thrust of online marketing and everything falls within it. It is the engine room and the leading force which leads all other strategies.
In our view, even Online PR, Social Media, PPC and Website Design stand inside the SEO title. We’ve kept them outside of our main page headings for convenience, but, for us, only Affiliate Marketing can be said to be truly outside of the SEO brief.
As we deal with Online PR, Social Media, PPC, Website Design and Affiliate Marketing elsewhere, here we list the core SEO elements (or, at least what the SEO specialist should be concerned with to make a fully performing site):
- site structure and navigation;
- keyword research and implementation;
- tag implementation;
- content (text, complete with headings);
- content (images and graphics);
- internal linking;
- offsite tactics (including back-linking strategies).
Need help with SEO?
If you have any questions regarding SEO or need help getting your website ranked on Google, contact us and we will give your website a detailed review and provide recommendations on how to increase your organic traffic.