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Search Engine Optimisation

What is SEO and why do you need it for your business?

What is SEO and why do you need it for your business?

SEO is essential if you want to make sure your potential customers find you when they're searching online for specific products or services and when they're asking questions or looking for solutions. Read our blog to find out more.

If you’re a business owner and you’ve got a website, it’s likely that you will have already heard about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) when looking at how to get people to visit your website. However, if you’re still not sure about what exactly SEO is or how SEO works, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog, we’ll explain exactly what SEO is, how it works and why it’s important for your business.

What is SEO? 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In short, this means optimising your website and pieces of content in order to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site. 

How do you do this? 

By using SEO to make sure your site is visible when customers search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine. The more visible your site is within these search engine’s results for particular search queries or questions, the more likely you are to drive traffic to your website. And not just any traffic, high-quality traffic. 

Common practices associated with optimising your website for SEO include:

  • Creating high-quality pieces of content
  • Optimising your content around specific keywords
  • Building backlinks

Search is now one of the main ways in which people discover content, products and services online, so if you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs), you will increase traffic to your website. 

In fact, Google now has a market share of 85% worldwide. So, if you want to create an SEO strategy for your business, you must follow Google’s and other search engine’s best practices. 

Whilst your website and content should be appealing to search engines, one of the most important factors is understanding your customers, what they’re looking for and their expectations. 

To appear in search results for these people, you will need to know what words they’re using, the answers or solutions they’re looking for and the type of content they’re looking for. This may vary depending on your industry or the stage of the buyer’s journey your customers are in at a particular time. 

Understanding these factors will give you a much better chance of appearing in front of the right people at the right time. 

How does SEO differ from paid search?

The biggest difference between SEO and paid search is that SEO involves ranking ‘organically’ rather than paying for it. When you enter a search query into Google, the paid results appear at the top of a page, and the organic results come just under. Ranking on the first page of the search results is the best way to get your brand seen. 

You can learn more about how SEO and PPC differ in our blog: SEO vs PPC: Which strategy should you be using?

In the example below, you will see the paid results highlighted in red and the organic results for this particular search query highlighted in green. 

google search example

How does SEO work? 

Understanding how search engines work will help you determine SEO's usefulness for your business. Search engines such as Google use complicated algorithms to decide whether your website will be shown for a particular search query. No one really knows exactly how it works (apart from Google!), but they do provide clues as to how you can improve your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. 

First, let's take a look at exactly how it works: 

Step 1: Crawling 

Search engines such as Google crawl website pages from all over the internet, collecting key pieces of information from them and adding them to an index. 

Step 2: Analysis  

Once these pages have been crawled, the results are analysed by a unique search engine algorithm that considers hundreds of ranking factors to decide where each page should appear in the search results for any given search query. To be precise, Google has over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm

During this analysis, search engines look at various factors including:

  • The meaning of the search query 
  • Content’s relevance to the search query 
  • Ranking the usefulness of pages
  • Evaluates the user experience of web pages 
  • Puts the search results into context for users to provide the most useful and relevant results in that particular moment 

Google provides more information on this on its how search works page.

Step 3: Optimisation 

The crawling and analysis of the pages on your site might be up to Google, but it's up to you to help them do that. Ensuring that your pieces of content are easy to navigate and help answer your customers' questions will help them find what they need and provide Google with the information required to rank a particular page. 

Long gone are the days of being able to create a page filled with keywords to make sure you’re seen by customers. SEO is not about providing relevant and useful information to your customers, at the right time and in the right place. 

All search engines want to do is show their users the best and most relevant search results and provide them with the answers they need. All you have to do is provide those answers in the best way to drive traffic to your site. Once they get there, you need to convert them too. The user experience of your website will have a huge impact on how long your visitors stay and whether they go on to convert so this is something to consider when building a page on your site or creating high-quality content. 

To achieve this, there are a number of SEO techniques you can undertake including:

  • Keyword research - using a keyword research tool such as the Google Ads tool, SEMrush, or Answer the Public will allow you to find out more about what people are searching for online around a particular topic. This will help you determine the keywords you should optimise for and which should be included in your content. 
  • On-page SEO - this means optimising individual pages on your website in order to rank for particular keywords and attract relevant traffic in the SERPs . This includes the content on your site as well as title tags, meta descriptions and internal links. 
  • Off-page SEO refers to any activities you undertake outside your website that can impact SEO such as influencer outreach, social network or broken link building.   
  • Link building - links indicate to Google that other web users consider your particular piece of content or web page useful. External links are a ranking factor so it’s important to undertake this as part of your SEO strategy. 

📚 Learn more about optimising your website for SEO in our blog: How to optimise content for SEO

You can use tools such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console to track your results and check on how your pages are ranking and the search terms they’re ranking for. 

Why does SEO matter? 

Do you remember the last time you wanted to know something about a particular topic, product or service? The chances are, you opened Google, typed your query into the search bar and clicked on one of the results on the first page. If that site didn’t provide you with the information you needed, you will have clicked back and scrolled further down until you could find the information you needed. 

This is exactly what your customers are doing too. To be more precise, trillions of searches are made every year. If you don’t optimise your site for SEO, the customers who don’t know you exist but need your product or service will never find you and you won’t get the chance to tell them about your business or what you can offer. 

Even worse, your competitors might be there so they will take all of the leads you could be targeting.

Organic search results are more trusted by searches, and receive more clicks than paid ads. In addition, SEO is one of the only marketing channels that, when you set it up properly, it will keep providing a return for a long period of time. If you create content that is optimised for relevant keywords, it will continue to drive traffic over time. On the other hand, paid ads require continuous funding to keep driving traffic. 

💡 Want to know more about how important SEO is for business? Take a look at our blog: Why is SEO important for your business growth? 

How can SEO benefit your business? 

SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to understand and reach your customers in the right place, at the right time. During the pandemic, the need for SEO has risen more than ever as consumers made a shift to online shopping. 

Let’s have a look at some of the key benefits SEO can provide for your business: 

  • A primary source of website traffic - SEO forms a key part of the buyer funnel with many consumers starting the search for a product or service in a search engine. The way you optimise your content and website will then help to lead customers to convert or engage with your brand. 
  • Low cost and effective - if you consider the results you’re likely to see over a long period of time, SEO is a low cost solution for driving traffic to your website. The main cost is the time it takes to create and optimise content. 
  • Increases lead generation - when you optimise your website with the right keywords and understand what your customers are looking for and when, you will appear in the right search results and capture the interest of new customers. 
  • Builds trust and authority -  following Google’s E-A-T guidelines (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) will help you to be successful in your SEO efforts. Not only will it help you to establish trust and credibility with Google, but with your customers too. 
  • Understand your customers - knowing what your customers are looking for and the answers they want will help you to understand exactly what they want and how they find your business. 

By optimising your website and regularly creating and publishing relevant content, you will have a better chance of being found by your target audience in the search results and ranking higher in those results. This will allow you to drive relevant and targeted traffic to your website. 

It’s important to remember that being successful with SEO is about more than just getting people to click through to your website. You also need to get them to take the desired action once they get there. 

If you’d like to find out more about how SEO can help you to drive results for your business, why not request a free digital marketing audit from our team.  

Blog written by

Amy Ward

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