What is SEO and How it Works: A Guide
SEO is one of the most common terms used in digital marketing. However, many new businesses know very little about this highly effective optimisation strategy. For businesses that want to improve their presence online, it is important to understand exactly what Search Engine Optimisation means and how it works. Let’s explore the details around this term and the benefits it has for businesses.
1. So, what is SEO?
If you’re not familiar with the term, you’re probably wondering: What does SEO stand for? SEO stands for search engine optimisation. And just as the name suggests, SEO is a method used by digital marketers to optimise websites’ content to increase its chances of getting found on search engines. But to understand the term better, we should consider the full definition.
1.1 The definition of SEO
SEO is the practice of boosting traffic to a website from organic search engine results through effective on-page and off-page optimisation techniques.
1.2 What are organic results in SEO?
SEO focuses on organic results. Now, you may be wondering, what is organic result in SEO? This type of results are listings of websites or webpages that appear on a search engine through its algorithm. It means that the content displayed on these websites are relevant to someone’s specific search terms. According to the Search Engine Journal, 49% of marketers state that organic search has the greatest Return On Investment of any marketing channel.
1.3 What exactly is SEO Development?
SEO development is a type of web development that focuses on optimising websites for search engines. The goal is to attract more quality search engine traffic and to capitalise on it. During SEO development, digital marketers focus on:
- Keyword research
- Optimising on-page content
- Link building
- Improving metadata
- Developing an SEO-friendly URL structure
- Enhancing site speeds
Ensuring responsive and mobile-friendly design
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2. How SEO works
Search engines always want to offer the best results for their users. This means delivering results that are relevant to what users are searching for. To do this, search engines scan websites to find the best, most relevant content to display. Through the process of SEO, a search engine picks up that a website matches what users are searching for and displays the website in its top search results.
Studies show that only around 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the second page. This means that websites compete hard for the first top spots. With an effective SEO strategy, the chances of ranking higher are increased greatly.
2.1 SEO explained
- Doing proper keyword research Keywords are important because they give search engines a clue that a website’s content may be most relevant to what they are searching for. According to Neil Patel, around 90% of SEO revolves around keyword selection. Keyword research involves looking at which words or phrases a website ranks for, which keywords competitors rank for, and which words or phrases people are most searching for.
- Optimising on-page content On-page content includes text, images, and video. Text can be optimised by including valuable information, using the right keywords, adding effective headings and using powerful Call to Actions (CTAs) that guide users to take action. Images and video can be optimised by using the right alt tags.
- Having a quality link building strategy Link building is a very important part of a good SEO strategy. It involves adding links between the pages on a website, as well as including links to other high-quality websites.
- Improving metadata Metadata is data that provides information about content. It includes meta titles and meta descriptions. These types of data are HTML elements that describe and summarise the content of web pages.
- Developing an SEO-friendly URL structure A good URL structure is easy to read and keyword rich. This helps search engines to identify what a specific page is about.
- Enhancing site speeds Users want to find content fast and efficiently. To meet this need, search engines will display sites that load fast. If a website has slow loading speeds, it can negatively impact its rank.
- Ensuring responsive and mobile-friendly design Increasingly more people are using their mobile devices to search for content. Since the majority of searches take place on mobile devices, the Google Algorithm focuses on mobile first indexing. You want to ensure that your website is mobile responsive and fast for the best ranking.
2.2 How search engines work – crawling, indexing, and ranking
Google and other search engines use what is known as ‘crawlers’ to gather information about websites’ pages and their content. With this information, they determine where they should rank websites based on a particular search. These crawlers collect data about keywords, content, links, page speeds, backlinks, and metadata.
While the crawling process collects website information, indexing involves collecting, analysing, and storing of data to promote efficient and accurate information retrieval.
Finally, the ranking process involves organising all the data so that the most relevant websites are ranked at the top of the search engine’s pages. So, when a user searches for a keyword, they have access to the most suitable content.
2.3 How SEO works for business
Now that you know a little bit more about SEO, the next question to answer is how SEO works for business. All businesses need a fast, informative, and user-friendly website that ranks high in search engines. This is because it helps attract more potential customers to the site and, ultimately, increases sales. SEO is an inexpensive tactic to achieve these goals.
For business websites, SEO consists of three parts: Technical SEO, on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
- Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to optimising your site for crawling and indexing, but can also include any technical process meant to improve search visibility.
This includes providing new, informative, and useful content, and optimising headlines, metadata, links, URLs, and images.
Off-Page SEO involves anything done on other websites that can improve a website’s ranking. This can include backlinks and listings on authoritative directories.
During the SEO process for any business, it is key to do thorough research around competitors, the right keywords to use and the most suitable techniques to implement. It is also of utmost importance to keep track of results through regular analysis and reporting. When working with a digital marketing agency, they will provide this so SEO campaigns can be tweaked for optimal results.
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3. Why is SEO important for marketing?
SEO is a vital part of digital marketing, as internet users conduct billions of searches daily to find information about products and services.
Search is the primary driver of digital traffic for businesses and can complement other marketing channels. More traffic means more leads that can easily be converted to sales with other types of marketing.
3.1 Do I need SEO?
If you are wondering do I need Seo, the answer is yes. Any business that wants to get found online and wants to gain more quality traffic needs SEO. Studies show that 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. This means the opportunity to gain more traffic through search engines is very high.
SEO makes a website more visible, which leads to more traffic and better opportunities to turn prospects into real customers.
3.2 What is good SEO?
Through the years, SEO has grown to be quite complex. The internet is now more competitive than ever. As a result, search engines have now learned to identify deceptive, black-hat SEO techniques. These techniques refer to methods used that go against search engine guidelines. These unethical tactics typically do not solve searchers’ queries, and search engines will penalise these sites.
Today, there are three essential parts of SEO that all digital marketers strive to achieve with websites’ SEO. Search engines are always looking for:
It is incredibly important to ensure all content provides the most up-to-date information. This includes using informative headings, making use of quality internal linking strategies, and streamlining the site structure.
All search engines want to ensure the information they display comes from an authoritative source. This involves using quality backlinks, making sure a website is mobile-friendly, and improving page speeds.
Search engines are always looking for trustworthiness when crawling websites. For websites, this includes investing in security such as an SSL certificate, gathering testimonials and reviews from current customers, and building a robust backlink profile.
All good SEO techniques must adhere to these three principles.
3.3 How long does SEO take to show results?
While most clients understandably want a definitive answer, it is very difficult to give one, because there are so many variables to consider. For one website it may take just a few weeks to get on the first page of search engines, while it may take months for another to rank. One of the key aspects to keep in mind is the competition. If a business has a popular niche, it may take longer to climb to the top of the search results.
However, it is important to invest in a long-term SEO solution and to not give up in the early stages. Working with a reputable digital marketing agency is essential to ensure you get SEO services that are effective and consistent.
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With this guide, we’ve provided detailed answers to important questions, including what SEO stands for, what is SEO development and how SEO works for business. This will help you understand how important it is for your business to invest in SEO services. With the correct strategy, your business can stand out online and beat competitors to the top results on search engines.