Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a simple marketing concept that can increase brand value and visibility when implemented correctly. So why are so many professionals intimidated by the idea of strategising SEO to enhance potential and growth? Fundamentally, many people fail to understand SEO and misrepresent the concept, confusing potential users and ultimately missing opportunities to enable consumers to understand what constitutes a particular brand.
SEO refers to a system of practices designed to help improve the appearance and positioning of web pages' search results to be optimised. Stripped down to its essentials, SEO is how customers are helped to locate a brand's online presence when they use a search engine, such as Google or Bing. If potential customers fail to understand or mistrust a brand, a potential sale is lost and so optimising the presentation of results is critical in helping consumers to find the product or service they are looking for. With 57.8% of all web traffic coming from Google, brands are seriously losing out on sales if they aren't embracing SEO.
Read on to inform and educate yourself about the fundamental information you need to get to grips with in order to strategise your SEO campaign successfully.
The first step is to understand how search engines work. Surveying web pages using web crawlers, search engines scan the internet, downloading relevant, established web pages and tracking links which enable new pages that have recently been made available to be discovered. Seeking out key elements such as backlinks, title tags, keywords, image tags and internal link structure, search engines assess site structure and visitor behaviour, as well as other factors, to establish how a site should appear and be ranked in their search engine results page or SERP. The main takeaway from this process is that rankings and visibility are both fundamental values that are interlinked with the success of your SEO campaign.
Rankings in SEO relate directly to where a website features in the rankings of a search engine's results page. Numerous influencing features impact ranking factors, including a whole series of algorithms. Ranking relates to an item of content's position on the SERP. A top-ranking equates to a specific web page showing as the first result when a term is searched for, excluding promoted results. A web page's ranking can alter when affected by greater competition in the SERP or if the algorithm changes by the search engine itself.
Visibility relates to the appearance of a brand to the broader public. In terms of success and profit, if a brand is not Googleable, it's only achieving a fraction of its potential. Search traffic can only direct unique visitors to an online store or website. If a domain isn't featured prominently on a search engine's top 5 pages, a valuable opportunity will have been missed.
So why is visibility so intertwined with successful SEO?
Statistically, the more content you produce and push, the more visible your brand will be, because in this way your SEO will be broader and more extensive. Search engines rely on content to assess page ranking, page length and quality information, with search algorithms matching a person's search with the most relevant page. The entire process is based on fully understanding keywords. When you use the optimal keywords the visitor is most interested in, the kind of content you present will be organically guided to your page, with potential leads quickly converting into solid leads. So make sure you are fully clued up on the most appropriate keywords to use in your search including research hashtags, buzzwords, language and terminology to unlock related terms your audience would use. The true essence of SEO begins with the determination of what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.
There are three SEO processes to get your head around:
Technical SEO – refer to the process associated with crawling the indexing phase.
On-Page SEO – refers to the SEO elements you control on the webpage, or the webpage code itself.
Off-Page SEO – refers to actions taken outside of your own website to influence your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
What is an SEO strategy?
The majority of consumers will actively research a brand before fully engaging with it, consequently, Google is most likely to be the first port of call for reviews, social media handles and overall popularity. Google uses algorithms to present the most relevant suggestions to users in response to questions or keywords. Search engines rank the most popular web pages unearthed by these algorithms and then assess their relevance and authority. Each search engine uses its own equations to scour the internet for interesting and valuable content. These algorithms focus on ranking factors as their primary SEO strategy. Improving image filenames, increasing the amount of content available and optimising internal links will enhance websites' rankings, search visibility and ultimately the ranking factor.
By formulating an in-depth plan to push traffic to websites, using on-page and off-page strategies with intent-based keywords is commonly regarded as an SEO strategy. Once a search engine has identified a website and condensed the keywords of the page, it needs to index the content so that searches can be as accurate and informed as possible. Search engines perceive a webpage very differently from the way the general public does, in place of colour, graphics and links, plain text is condensed. Search engines use on-site optimisation to scan and index websites as quickly as possible using website navigation. It will benefit your SEO if the URL used is short, containing just the primary keywords you want users to be guided towards. Load time is also crucial. The amount of time it takes to read a page is relevant. Page speed is known to be a leading SEO ranking factor. Google is dedicated to improving users’ experience of the web, and fast-loading web pages will help to achieve that. Mobile-friendly platforms are another key driving SEO ranking factor with more people digesting content online via their devices as opposed to desktop computers.
It's important to avoid dead links or broken redirects and ensure your website does not appear and read in a similar way to familiar brands and competitors, search engines deem duplicate content to be a negative factor.
Finally, be sure to not neglect video. With Instagram's Reels and the rise of TikTok and this month's changes upping the length of a video short on the platform to ten minutes, 80% of online content is driven by video. The age ranges watching videos are broader than those reading lengthy blog posts. Today, more people are using videos to gleam information than ever before.