SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, a digital marketing specialisation that helps improve your website visibility in organic search results. In other words, SEO helps your website rank as high as it could possibly be in the search engine results page. In this digital age, the internet is a massive crowded space with tons of websites. Due to this reason, we rely heavily on search engines as the primary method of finding information and navigate the internet. You may have top-tier content, products, services or information but if nobody is able to find it, your website is as good as useless. When properly done, SEO helps your website reach out to your target audience and deliver your value proposition, be it personal or business. You will enjoy increased visibility, traffic and conversion to your website. Here’s a brief introduction to SEO.
How do search engines work?
Most of us are not strangers to the major commercial search engines such as Google, Yahoo! And Bing. In general, these search engines work based on the same principle. First, they crawl and index web pages to discover what is available on the internet. Whenever a user searches for a particular keyword, the search engines then sort and rank the pages based on their own proprietary computer algorithm. Some of them might even use sophisticated artificial intelligence in the ranking process. Each search engine might employ slightly different methods to rank websites, but they all aim to deliver the best results to users based on quality and relevance. Of course, the exact ranking algorithm of search engines is never disclosed to the public. Google, for example, introduces changes to its ranking algorithm every day so you may find that your website ranking fluctuates daily. While most of these changes are small tweaks, sometimes there may be a major algorithm change that sends huge ripples across the internet.
How is SEO different from SEM?
SEM, or Search Engine Marketing should not be confused with SEO because they are referring to totally different things. You might be wondering how search engines make money. Well, here’s how: You could pay search engines to display your ads on the search engine results page. Your ads will appear on top or alongside the organic search results, and they will be clearly marked as paid advertisements. SEM is a quick way to increase visibility and drive traffic albeit at a cost. Once you stop paying for advertisements, however, your website simply stop showing up in search results and your traffic will plummet instantly. On the other hand, SEO is a long game of continuously growing your organic search engine visibility. You are not going to see results overnight, but a good SEO campaign can have long-lasting positive impacts that carry on for many years down the road.
How to optimise a website?
It is impossible to cover everything about SEO in one post, so let’s go through just the basics. SEO encompasses a very broad field that requires both technical and creative skills from an individual. The goal of SEO is to make your website search-engine friendly and provide the best value to the user. The fundamental SEO process comprises of a 4-steps cycle of continuous improvement: Research, On-page, Off-page and Reporting.
- Research – Full website audit, Keyword research, Competitive analysis
- On-page – Information architecture, Keyword mapping, Meta tagging optimisation, Content expansion
- Off-page – Link building, Blogger outreach, Online directory citation, Social signals
- Reporting – Track and measure performance, Identify new opportunities
As you have already known by now, Google constantly changes its search and ranking algorithm in order to serve better results to the users. To keep up with Google updates, SEO professionals will have to be adaptable and find out what really works for the client. In all truthfulness, there really isn’t a fixed one-size-fits-all SEO approach for a website, nor can one truly guarantee a ranking on page 1 of Google. However, if you want to be ahead of the game, a long-term investment in SEO will give you huge ROI for your business and basically pay for itself.
You might also want to read more about local SEO. In local SEO, similar methodology is carried out for improving your visibility in local business listings. You can find out more details in this article about optimising GMB for local search.