Have you heard people talking about Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, even User Experience and wondered what they are really talking about?
Have you heard that SEO is important for your website? SEO is critical to your website if you want it to rank in popular search engines.
So what exactly is SEO?
First things first. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
SEO is the process of increasing the amount of traffic to your website by increasing the visibility of your website or webpage to web search engines such as Google, and thus to those looking for information. SEO is the term used when this is achieved through organic (free) methods.
Let’s remember the aim of search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo is to deliver the user the best result possible. Either in the form of web pages and other content such as social media feeds – think Facebook or You Tube videos. This information is ranked and shown in order based on the content that the search engines think is most relevant to the users search – the question they ask.
You can use SEO to improve your position in the results pages – often referred to as SERPs – Search Engine Results Pages.
Search engines use algorithms (a set of rules or calculations set by computers) to trawl the content of websites and other media and deliver in order those it considers are closest to what the user is looking for. Thus the higher to the top of page one the higher page ranking you have, and of course everyone wants to be at the top of page one!
These results will take into consideration items such as, but isn’t limited to:
- content and keywords: the quality and relevancy to the search
- answers:does your site answer the users question
- site structure: both
- architecture – the overall set up of your side e.g. load speed and responsiveness, and
- HTML; your titles, meta descriptions etc
- trust: are you a trusted publisher, is your content reliable or are you an authority within your field?
- links: both the quality and number of links coming into and feeding out to other sites
- social: your reputation and social network
This is by no means an exhaustive list – in fact there are over 200 items the search engines look at, but it gives you an idea of the many areas you need to consider when looking to improve your SEO.
As mentioned everyone wants to be on page one of Google, the premium search engine, and great content can certainly help you with this, but all of the factors mentioned above, and much more, need to be considered and incorporated into a holistic strategy for your website.
Getting to Google page one
You may be approached by media agencies and website designers that will promise to get you onto Google page one, but you should be wary of such promises as the reality is that no guarantees are possible. Google changes its confidential algorithms weekly, or even daily. And whilst they may get you onto page one, is it a word or phrase that you actually want to rank for?
Be careful too of tricks and tools more unscrupulous web designs may use as a way around the algorithms, and avoid the use of ‘black hat’ or bad techniques to improve your rankings. In the long term these will damage your website’s reputation and your website will incur a penalty by the search engines. Typically it will take organic SEO a minimum of 12 months to achieve ranking results. Read more about white hat and black hat SEO here.
SEO = Quality Control For Google!
SEO vs SEM
SEO = Search Engine Optimisation: results achieved through organic methods – free – NOT paid.
SEM = Search Engine Marketing: refers to paid advertising such as Google Adwords / PPC – pay per click.
Think about it, Google, and in fact all search engines, want to delivery the best results possible for your search so being able to assess your website content and functionality means they can do just that!
UX is short for
Finally we come to UX also known as user experience. Simply put the experience visitors have when they are on your website.
Of course your organic SEO and/or paid advertising might have got you a great page ranking but all of this is worth nothing if when visitors reach your site they can’t work out what you offer, they can’t easily navigate their way around, they can’t find the information they’re looking for, or there is no call to action.
UX defines the overall experience your visitors have. Make it positive and they’ll be engaged and click deeper into your website taking the action your looking for – that telephone all, that click on a button, placement of an order, making a booking or signing up to a mailing list. Negative and they’ve gone – off to the next site that catches their eye….. never to return !
A clean, modern easy to navigate website that functions well will drive conversion.
In summary, it’s natural to want to be on page one of the search engines and great content can certainly help you achieve this. However you need a broader and wholistic approach to combine the many SEO factors which contribute to your page ranking.