What is SEO and how does it work?

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the marketing tactic of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. It is the simple activity of making sure that your website can be found in search engines for relevant words and phrases for what your company is offering. It improves the position and click-through rate of organic search results. This can also be referred to as ‘free’ or ‘natural traffic.’ To achieve this, digital marketers can adapt website content, make changes to source code, and make technical changes such as enhancing metadata or fixing broken links. While SEO may be a long-term strategy it yields a significant return on investment (RIO) in comparison to other marketing strategies.

Currently, 93% of all digital journeys start with search engines, which should ring alarm bells for organisations that aren’t currently adopting SEO in their digital marketing strategy. But how does SEO work and how do organisations secure those top spots on Google search pages?

what is SEO and how does it work?

So, how does SEO work?

Google accounts for 94% of all search engine traffic and 96% of all mobile search traffic. So, when it comes to successful SEO, companies must follow Google’s rules to ensure they get the most website traffic.

So, what works? How does Google determine which pages to show in response to searches? And how do you get all this valuable traffic to your site?

The key areas that affect the ranking result for search are:

  • High-quality content that is relevant and engaging.

  • Backlinks and marketing signals from relevant and credible sources.

  • Mobile optimisation

  • Technical factors.

Factors that Impact SEO

Now you know what SEO is and what it's based on, so the next question is how do I implement SEO marketing or how does SEO optimisation work? SEO involves both technical and creative activities that are often grouped into ‘Onsite SEO’ and ‘Offsite SEO’ – splitting the practices that can be performed on and away from a website.

1. Content Marketing

One of the key factors that Google looks for in its top-ranking websites is rich and relevant content. If your company can identify which keywords or phrases potential clients are using in their online searches and incorporate them into your site, Google will more easily be able to identify your website as a suitable result.

Similarly, more engaging, and effective content means that visitors will spend more time on your site. A high bounce rate signals to google that visitors aren’t finding your information useful making it rank lower in the search results.

Content doesn’t just have to refer to text either. Having a wide variety of content, from blog posts, whitepapers, infographics, and videos is vital in keeping your viewers engaged. Videos content is particularly powerful in generating SEO results. Videos not only make landing pages more engaging but are 50x more likely to drive organic search results in comparison to just plain text.

2. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO are website features and elements, over which you have complete control. This goes beyond purely content marketing to the deeper levels of your sites HTML. Here are a few on-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking:

  • Title Tag – in under 70 characters this tells the search engine what your page is about.

  • Sub-headings – not only do sub-headings make your content easier for visitors to read, but it can also help improve SEO. Using H1, H2 and H3 tags will help search engines better understand what your content is about.

  • Internal links – links to other content on your site can help search engines learn more about your site.

  • Image Name and ALT Tags – including a keyword or phrase in the image name and alt tag will help search engines better index your images when users perform an image search.

  • Mobile optimisation – with more searches now taking place on mobile devices, it is essential that websites are responsive in their design. Not only will this increase user experience, but it can also affect your SEO.

With on-page SEO you need to be careful that you avoid over-optimisation by trying to include too many keywords, as this could result in penalties from Google and other search engines. Each piece of content should aim to focus on one or two keywords, as this ensures content is relevant and specific. Trying to include too many keywords can negatively impact your SEO by making the content thin and unfocused.

3. Off-Page SEO

In addition to on-site SEO, off-site SEO can also affect your ranking. Whilst you may not have direct control over these factors there are techniques you can implement to get them to work in your favour:

  • Backlinks – this involves taking time to build relationships with influencers, that are in your field of interest, who create quality content and will link back to your site through their own content. The more links, from quality and relevant sources, that point towards your website the better!

  • Social – likes and shares from influencers can also help boost your SEO. The more quality content you publish, the more likely you will be to get people to share your content with others.

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SEO has a huge impact on website traffic and your companies overall digital performance. SEO has a much higher conversion rate of 14.6% than 1.7% for traditional marketing methods like direct mail or cold calling. Although SEO takes time to work its magic and results are not seen overnight, it is the best way to build a sustainable online business that will continue to bring in new organic site traffic for years to come.

Check out some of our other blog posts: 'Key signs you need a new website' and 'The misconceptions around Quality Assurance.'

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