What is SEO? The Beginner’s Guide

SEO is often viewed as complex, challenging and technical. Whilst we’re not denying that can be true, the basic principles are fairly easy to grasp.

Whether you’re a newbie to SEO or are looking to refresh your knowledge, this guide is here to help.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

What Is SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a marketing activity which focuses on growing visibility and driving traffic to a website from the organic (free) search engine results, such as Google and Bing.

SEO can help to increase the quality and quantity of visitors to your website, as it’s closely related to the search terms (words or phrases) that the user submits through the search engine.

For example, imagine you are a hairdresser in Nottingham. When somebody searches Google for ‘hairdresser in Nottingham’ then ideally you’d want your website to show up in search results for this phrase. But, the search results page your website will appear on all depends on how well your website is optimised. If your website isn’t properly optimised, then it’s likely you’ll be way down the list of search results – or may not even appear at all. If you’re not within the first few pages of results, then chances are the user won’t ever discover your website.

This is where SEO comes in. It helps you compete against others for your position in search results. The better optimised your website is, the higher your search engine ranking will be.

Why does my website need SEO?

Simple. If you want your website to be found online, then you need to implement on-going SEO.

Whilst social media, directories and direct visits can all drive traffic to your website, the most common way in which websites are found online is through search engines.

Forrester states that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

A search engine connects your business with people who are actively looking for what you offer. These are your ideal prospects! Investing in SEO allows you to take advantage of this highly targeted traffic to increase exposure for your business and generate more sales. If not, you could be missing out on a hugely valuable pocket of potential customers.

Why Does My Website Need SEO

How does SEO work?

How Does SEO Work

Now for the technical part.

Search engines use ‘crawlers’ which gather information about all of the content they can find online. Using the data they’ve found, they take this information to build an ‘index’ for each website (think of it like an index in the back of a book). When somebody searches for a particular keyword or phrase, the search engine uses an ‘algorithm’ that analyses the search term and decides which results are most useful and relevant to present to the searcher.

The exact content of the search engine algorithms are a closely guarded mystery. What we do know however, is that there are factors which contribute to improving your search rankings including:

On-site SEO (on your website):
• Chosen keywords (the words or phrases you want to be found for)
• Website content
• Website structure
• Domain authority (the level of trust your website has built up)
• Page titles, headings and descriptions
• Responsive design (adapts to different devices)
• Page speed (how quick pages are to load)
• Image labelling
• Internal links (links to other pages within your website)

Off-site SEO (outside of your website):
• Inbound links (from other websites)
• Social media

The search engines evolve and change their algorithms regularly to become more and more refined. This means SEO isn’t a quick fix. It’s a continuous process that needs to be maintained in order for your website to maintain its ranking.

Getting SEO right

SEO requires time, dedication and patience. It’s not a quick one-off marketing activity that delivers an instant outcome.

You should expect that it will take at least a couple of months before you begin to see results. This is because it takes time for your rankings to build. To help this along, regularly publishing unique, relevant quality that uses your keywords in a natural way will help the search engines to recognise and understand what your website is all about. SEO is an on-going activity which requires regular attention.

Getting SEO Right

Can I do SEO myself?

Can I Do SEO Myself

It’s completely possible to do SEO yourself.

Implementing the basics (e.g. page headings and meta descriptions etc.) is easy once you’ve grasped the concepts. To give your website the best possible chance in search rankings, the basics need to be completed alongside some of the more advanced SEO techniques.

There are several complex, advanced SEO methods which require technical knowledge and experience. That’s not to say you can’t learn and manage this yourself. It will require an investment of time and learning on your part, plus on-going, regular maintenance. If that’s not possible, working with an agency such as ours can give you the peace of mind that your SEO is looked after and your website is optimised for maximum performance.

2018-05-08T21:08:56+00:00 April 5th 2018|