Search Engine Optimisation has become one of the most important factors for creating business awareness.
It’s no longer possible for the text-heavy websites of yesteryear to make a visible impact for consumers. With technological advances in digital media transforming the way audiences consume information, more and more businesses are having to get increasingly creative with how they ensure their products/services can be seen and heard by audiences. This is where search engine optimisation comes in, as it provides endless opportunities for businesses to make themselves more visible online.
So, what is SEO?
There are so many definitions as to what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is, some say “it’s the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results” while others say it includes paid and unpaid processes. Well, this is what we say (the marketing experts 😉): “Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of using a variety of digital methods to boost the quality and quantity of website traffic, thus increasing the online awareness of your business”. The reason we coined our own definition is because we found many existing ones were overcomplicated and too caught up in the detail. They were great if you really wanted to get into the nitty gritty of the meaning of SEO, but not so great if you just wanted a basic level understanding.
How does it work?
So, whilst many people know what SEO is, what a lot of people don’t necessarily understand is how it works. This isn’t surprising considering search engines change their algorithms all the time, partly to keep business on their toes, and also to find the best ways to match a searcher’s intent with the most relevant results.
Without getting into the extremely technical stuff, SEO works by having someone (or some people) make certain updates to your website, to help your business gain higher search rankings for searches that relate to your business and industry. These update can include including adding keywords, creating descriptive meta-data, optimising your website for for mobile-use, optimising images for quicker load speeds, and so much more (it can honestly feel like and endless task). Those factors mentioned are all known as on-page SEO, and are completed within the back or front-end of the website itself.
‘Off-page’ factors that affect your business’s search rankings include social media, online listings profiles (including reviews), and both inbound and outbound links. It’s important these elements are added to your SEO strategy as each provide vital information to existing and potential customers, and are therefore also factored into search rankings. Creating a comprehensive SEO strategy that incorporates a content plan and a link-building plan, will help you build the basis for increasing your online visibility and generating better quality leads.
A search engine will then scan or ‘crawl’ your website along with all others (including competitor websites!), in order to identify which ones offer the best quality content and is most relevant to that searcher’s query. Your website will then be listed on a search engine results page (or SERP) in a position the search engine feels your website is worthy of.
As I mentioned before, search engine algorithms are changing constantly, and where keywording might have been a vital factor one month, mobile optimisation and linking might have a greater impact in rankings the next. These sudden changes can be detrimental to SEO experts when creating long-term SEO campaigns, and so should be kept in mind when creating an SEO strategy, and contingency plans should be considered.
Understanding your audience and how they use search is fundamental in ensuring your SEO strategy goes above and beyond what your competitors are doing. This means research is going to be needed to find out which keywords and synonyms your desired audience are using. Luckily, there are a variety of useful tools that can help with this, which include:
• Google autocomplete:
This is where you start typing your search phrase into the bar, and Google ‘autocompletes’ what you were typing with a variety of suggestions below the search bar.
• Related searches:
These are featured at the bottom of a SERP to show searchers similar suggestions on how to phrase queries that might give more relevant results.
• People also ask
Generally this is a feature in the middle of a SERP and in a similar way to ‘related searches’, it offers insights as to what people searching a similar subject have also asked, and case it would be of any relevance to the searcher.
Each of these features are available on Google, and some can be found on other search engines too.
Why is it important?
At a basic level, SEO is extremely important because it improves the searchability of your website. Being able to rank highly for relevant search terms and appear in searches related to your business, is highly valuable in terms of generating greater website visibility, which in turn, will result in more leads and customers. It will also aim to send better quality leads to your website, because it will direct the people that have searched the most applicable topic to your business.
The main thing to keep in mind though, is that SEO needs a lot of research and time spent on it in order to make the most out of it. Picking a few keywords and using them wherever you can isn’t going to make your website rank very highly, in fact Google frowns upon this, as do other search engines. This is why creating quality content is essential, and using relevant keywords in places that allow for sentences to be read fluently is key.
Recent research shows that only 5% of websites not on the first page of search results are viewed. Which makes it increasingly important to optimise your website and ensure it’s ranked as best as possible, and that you have a variety of content for each stage of the customer journey. This is because not only does Google rank quality of content, it ranks based on the searcher’s intent. If a searcher just wants to be aware of a certain product, or if they’re considering a particular brand or product, or if they’re ready to buy, Google will bring up different results for each of these intents. You should also be keeping in mind that everyone is fighting for to be featured on that first results page, so there is increased competition between businesses. The increase in competition can quickly lead to your website becoming obsolete if you don’t work to keep up to date with SEO.
As everything is becoming more and more digitalised, the need for businesses to adapt their marketing methods to reflect this, is growing. It’s no longer enough to rely on a website, a few leaflets, and word-of-mouth to market your business anymore (as would have been the case 15 years ago). An integrated marketing strategy with a mix of print and digital adverts, information, profiles, will help ensure your business stays dynamic and reaches your desired audience.
To get started, you can read our basic SEO checklist or check out our deeper dive into SEO fundamentals. Whether you’re starting off on your digital journey, or would simply like some extra help along the way, contact LOCALiQ and discover our marketing services today.