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What is SEO and how It works

 

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of organic traffic through SERP (Search Engine Results Page) by generating Inbound Content to attract the right people and following & implementing SEO best practices.

Simply put, it’s about knowing your audience and what their struggles and issues are and making your website the ‘Go-To’ place to answer and solve their issues – whatever it might be.

 

What Is the Benefit of SEO?

The benefit of good SEO is that it drives passive traffic to your website, month after month without spending money on paid ads. That way you grow your website organically which leads to more sales and more business.

On the other hand, unless you’re an SEO and do the work yourself, you have to pay for the SEO services which aren’t cheap. And it can take time until you see any real impact – especially if your website is brand new.

This is one of the things I like to tell my clients right from the very beginning to ensure they are aware. Patience is key!

Most people think SEO is just placing keywords in certain areas and that’s that. This is simply not enough. Even keyword research may seem like a very simple and easy task – but I see tons of people get it wrong. They target keywords that ‘sound’ right and end up driving the ‘wrong type of traffic’ to their website because they aren’t thinking of the real ‘search intent’ behind the query. You can find out more on this subject here; everything you need to know about on-page optimisation in SEO.

This is why it is so important to get it right!

What is SEO and how It works

Here are some questions you may have regarding SEO:

  • How to do keyword research (What is, keyword research, the importance of, keyword research, the four types of search intent, and more!)
  • What is technical SEO
  • What is local SEO
  • What is international SEO
  • What is page authority in SEO
  • What is an SEO friendly website
  • What are SEO ranking factors

 

So how does SEO work…

First, let’s talk about the search engine.

Search Engine (Google) Explained

Search engine explained

Imagine a library that owns every book in the world. Google is that library!

Their powerful system holds information about every single page on the web. it has a secret algorithm (when I say secret, I really mean it. Google hides this as much as possible and only gives away hints) that understands your content and turns it into useful search results.

Search results matter. If you have a website that ranks at the top of page 1, more people are able to find you. This means more traffic to your website and ultimately… more sales!

 

How Google crawls, indexes and ranks websites

 

#1 Crawl queue

Once published, every page is placed into a crawl queue.

 

#2 Fetching

The web page is fetched (by Googlebot – also known as robot, bot or spider) and taken out of the crawl queue ready to be crawled.

 

#3 Crawling

Googlebot then visits new and updated pages to be added to the index. There are several ways to improve your crawling and make it more efficient.

 

#4 Indexing

During indexing, Googlebot processes each page it crawls in order to understand it (this includes text, content tags such as title tags and alt tags, images, and more). Again, there are several techniques to improve your indexing which allow Google to understand the content of your page better.

 

#5 Ranking

This is the process of Google returning search results based on users’ search queries of which according to Google are most relevant. There are hundreds of factors (and forever growing) when it comes to determining the relevancy and Google always works on improving their algorithm. To name a few well-known ranking factors; user experience, quality content, and mobile-friendliness.

 

How SEO Works

The key to higher rankings is to ensure that your website is continually growing and is up to date with fresh, quality and on-topic content as well as following best practices that the search engine needs in order to recognise what it’s about and how relevant your page(s) is to the given search query.

 

SEO Best Practices

 

What is SEO and how It works

 

#1 Choice of words and phrases (with searcher’s intent in mind)

If someone searches for “SEO services” (decision stage of the buyer’s journey) Google can narrow results to only those that are about SEO services. This page should provide information on different types of SEO services and prices.

However, if someone searches for “SEO vs PPC” (consideration stage of the buyer’s journey) and sees results for SEO services only – that would be classed as irrelevant content because the user clearly doesn’t yet know if he needs SEO or PPC.

This is what I meant by ‘search intent’.

 

#2 Headers and titles

The header of your page should give away its content, similar to how a title of a book gives away its subject.

However, multiple titles on a single page can be very confusing to the search engine. You should definitely keep that in mind when structuring your pages.

Best practice is to always keep a single H1 tag on each page. Then for your sub-headings, use H2s, H3s and so on.

 

Notice how many links I have throughout this single page. I’m not saying you should spam your web page(s) with links, but it’s definitely a good practice to add relevant links around your page(s) pointing to another page(s) that may be of interest to your audience.

This adds value! The search engine recognises that. Especially when users actually click through to other pages making use of your internal links.

Think about it – if someone lands on this page through Google search, chances are, they are interested to learn about SEO. What better way to give value than to provide other information that is relevant and accessible within a single click.

 

Similar to the point above and so important.

Avoid hypertext (hypertext is the word or phrase behind your link) such as “read more here” or “find more information here”. This has nowhere near as much value as it is to have your actual keywords as hypertext.

Just like the links I have on this page.

 

When one website links to another website, the search engine sees that as a recommendation. Meaning that the website that is receiving the link must be providing good value/ information. And this is one of the reasons why quality content is so important – if your content is good enough, people will naturally want to link back to it. Which means your site is growing faster!

Lots of backlinks from many different medium-high DA (domain authority) websites can look great to the search engine. This is how you grow your own DA and overall trustworthiness.

Bear in mind that not all links are good. This is why you should regularly check for spammy/ toxic links that point to your site and remove them.

 

#6 Reputation

The above point explains what I mean by reputation. If your website is known to provide good and useful content and it becomes the ‘Go-To’ place when you talk about your niche and, lots of other well-known websites link back to you with your main keywords in the hypertext, you’re winning!

 

SEO Rankings Factors

All of the above are ranking factors. But there are tons more:

  1. Security / SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate
  2. Speed
  3. Mobile-friendliness / usability
  4. Optimised content
  5. Site hierarchy and crawlability
  6. User experience
  7. Duplicate content
  8. Canonicalisation
  9. Hidden content behind tabs (Google said this may not be indexed)
  10. Broken links
  11. URL length
  12. Keyword in URL
  13. Categorisation
  14. Keywords/phrases in category names
  15. Priority pages (in sitemap XML)
  16. User behaviour
  17. Breadcrumb navigation
  18. Site usability
  19. Alt tag (image optimisation)
  20. Bounce rate

And hundreds more! This is going back to what I mentioned earlier, placing keywords in certain places is not enough. There is so much to think about when it comes to SEO – the industry is changing every day.

 

White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO

Before we come to an end I’d like to talk a little bit about white and black hat SEO.

Just to make it clear, white hat SEO is literally what I’ve talked about on this entire page so far. So it basically means you’re following all the search engine guidelines and best practices.

White hat SEO

Black hat SEO is the opposite. It’s like owning a business (website) and avoiding paying taxes (cheating, not following guidelines). It’s a quick win but eventually, you will get caught and penalised.

Here are some of the black hat SEO techniques:

Black hat SEO

  1. Keyword stuffing
  2. Cloaking (showing one piece of content to users, and a different piece of content to the search engines)
  3. Misleading redirects (sending someone to a completely different and irrelevant web page or website to what they thought they were going to by clicking the link)
  4. Bad content (content with zero value)
  5. Paid link (purchasing backlinks from other websites)

 

Conclusion And Importance of SEO

With over 200 ranking factors and forever changing algorithm, it’s safe to say SEO isn’t simple and cannot be done properly by someone who only knows basics.

Hopefully, by now, you understand that.

What works for one website may not necessarily work for another – because there are so many factors that go into SEO. Every website is different. Different age, different history, etc. all of which matter to the search engine!

Without SEO your website won’t grow. This means very little or no traffic at all and ultimately less opportunity for sales.

Not sure if you need a website? Find out why you need a website for your business.