What is SEO and do I need to care?

If you’ve been working on your web presence for even a little while, you have no doubt heard the term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimisation). But so often, the term is thrown around without any background or explanation, as if everyone knows what it is!

So what is SEO and why should you care about it?

Basically, SEO is about how easy you are to find on the vast internet. When someone types a query into a search engine, the engine then sends out “crawlers” into all the information available to find content that could answer your query. That content is eventually fed into an algorithm, which matches it to your query and feeds it back to you in the form of ranked search results.

Nearly 70% of all clicks on search results go to the top five ranked results, so it is essential to rank high.

Good SEO means you rank higher on search engines like Google or Bing, so your audience will find you. Bad SEO means you don’t. And that’s it.

Given there are over 5 billion searches on Google alone every day, that’s a lot of potential audience time you are missing out on!

How is SEO calculated?

SEO is based on a range of factors – in fact, Google uses over 200 factors to determine your rank (check out a great detailed list here). In general though, factors cover things like content, readability, links and your site’s set up (e.g. tags, meta descriptions). This great infographic from Moz.com explains some of the most important factors and how they rate.

rank-factors-pie-2013-lrg.gif?mtime=20170104131408#asset:2285:url

Source: Moz.com

On-site factors

On-site factors are those you can control yourself within your site. This includes:

  • Your set-up. This covers a range of behind-the-scenes factors. For example, having a keyword in your domain or sub-domain is a factor in SEO results. So if your business is working in a specific niche, considering including this upfront when you are setting up your domain, but definitely include any relevant keywords in your blog posts or sub-domain URLs!
  • Your content. Your content needs to be relevant to the search, but also high quality, different to other content and useful. It should also have appropriately selected keywords, but used carefully and judiciously, with thought about the kind of audience you want to attract and what you want to sell. Be aware of not over-using keywords so your content doesn’t feel awkward or stilted, and be warned that keyword stuffing is now penalised by search engines. A good copywriter can help you achieve all of these objectives, or explain what it is you need to do (link to that post).
  • Connections. Your site needs to be plugged into the rest of the internet. The more links you include and the more connected you are to the rest of the internet, the easier for the “crawlers” to find what they are searching for.You also need to make sure that your site is easy to navigateinternally and has plenty of internal links, again, helping those little crawlers find their target.
  • Frequency of updates. Noone wants their search result page to be full of out-of-date and irrelevant information. So good SEO means frequent updates to your page, to ensure your content remains fresh. You don’t need to come up with new content all the time, going back and editing and updating can achieve the same outcome.
  • Layout out of content. You don’t necessarily need to know HTML in detail, but you need to know some of the basics to achieve good SEO results. This includes using title tags (H1, H2, H3) to lay out content and ensuring you have a good meta description (the 160 character snippet that appears under your link in a Google search). There are paid services which can check all of this for you, or you might want to use the Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin analyses your WordPress posts for maximum SEO results and gives clear guidance on where you need to fix things. It’s a great tool for a beginner, until the little SEO quirks come more naturally.
  • Responsiveness. X% of internet browsing takes place on a mobile device. That means it is essential that your page is optimised for a mobile device. You can check your page here if you’re not sure how you go on this one.

There are a lot of other factors to consider for on-site SEO, such as loading times, the security of your page, ensuring there are no broken links and much more. But if you start with some of the above, you should start to see improvement in your SEO results.

Off-page SEO

You have a lot less control over these factors, and to an extent, it influenced a lot by the quality of the content you are producing. Search engines use factors like the legitimacy of your site (ie. how trusted is it), and how authoritative it is. That means presenting a legitimate, credible page to the world will see you go up in the search rankings. You can check your site’s authoritativeness here.

Rankings also take into account for your bounce rate, which is the measure of how many people only view one page on your site before leaving.

Drawing it all together

SEO is not an optional feature of your webpage anymore, if you want to be visible. You can focus on producing high quality, relevant and unique content, but unless it can be found, you won’t get anywhere. So look into the above to see if anything on your page can be improved, or contact us if you think we can help.

A good copywriter can help you to turn moderate SEO results into great, so get in touch if you need a hand!

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