SEO (search engine optimisation) – such a buzz term, but such an enigma for many businesses. When asked ‘What is SEO?’, I’m tempted to cram in as much information as I possibly can. I’ll try to refrain from self-indulgent rabbiting here and give it to you straight!
What is SEO?
SEO is search engine optimisation – the techniques used to get your website to appear higher in the search engine rankings when someone searches for a word or phrase which is relevant to your site. That’s getting to appear higher in Google, Bing, etc.
Why do I need it?
You want people to visit your site. There’s no point in having a great website if it can’t be found.
96% of Irish internet users use search engines every day, and Google is by far the most popular. Your target market is there. What’s more, they are not likely to go past page 1 of the Google search results, so if you want them to find your website rather than your competitor’s, you’ve got to be right up there.
If you’re not there, it’s a missed opportunity.
How does it work?
Google and all the other search engines read everything on the entire internet. Not humanly possible, but this is done by their programs, which they call spiders, or Google Bots.
They store all of this information. When someone types in a search, they go through all the information they’ve collected and decide what pages on the internet are relevant to the search the user has put in. Then, they rank all of these relevant pages in the order of importance as they see it, and return this as the search results we’re so familiar with today.
The important thing from an SEO perspective is understanding how the search engines decide what order they will rank the pages in. After all, if a page comes up on page 1 of a Google search, it’s going to get more traffic than a site that appears on page 5. It makes sense.
The search engines use complex algorithms to decide the order of importance of all the relevant pages. It’s understanding how the algorithms work that allows us to tailor our activity and aim for page 1 rankings.
How is ranking determined?
The search engines will look at loads of different things and put a different weighting on each of these criteria. Their exact formulae, or algorithms, are unknown – they don’t disclose them. But there are SEO experts out there who spend their time studying the data. These studies, together with the information Google and co have shared with us, can fairly accurately tell us what we need to look at.
I won’t go into the finer details in this post – that’ll keep for another time, but to start, here are the 3 main areas the search engines use to determine rankings.
- The page itself
This is where you have complete control. It’s your website, your page, so how well optimised it is depends on you.
The search engines won’t just look at what you’ve written on the page, they’ll take everything into consideration – your images, your text, your links, and all the stuff in the background too which the user doesn’t see.
- All the links pointing to the site
The more links you have pointing to your site from other websites the better. It’s almost that simple! The quality of the links will differ dependent on where they come from. Spammy links are bad. Authority links are good. So, links from well established websites will benefit your search engine rankings, particularly if those websites are related to your field.
- Social media
Social media is having an increasing influence on search engine rankings. Social shares and other interaction will improve your Google position – it’s that simple.
So, that’s a basic introduction to SEO! If you’d like to learn more about SEO, or help improving what you’re already doing, let’s chat! Just get in touch.
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