SEO: What’s it all About
There’s no doubt about it: the digital world is awash with frightening-sounding acronyms. While many of them can be ignored, SEO is definitely one that needs attention. Here’s a quick overview of some of the SEO basics. Don’t forget that if you need help with SEO, we’re here to answer all your questions. Simply get in touch.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s all about making sure that your website is designed, written and built in a way that attracts maximum interest from search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo!. An “optimised” site will appear higher on search engine page rankings when a user searches for certain terms – meaning there’s greater likelihood of that customer finding you, and of them subsequently buying your products or services.
Importantly, SEO is essentially free – and shouldn’t be confused with SEM or Search Engine Marketing (which refers to the paid advertising placements you can purchase in major search engines).
How does SEO work?
While the principles of SEO are fairly simple, the execution can be quite complex – as all search engines are different, and they change their search algorithms (or what they look for) on a regular basis.
In very basic terms, search engines trawl the internet and index websites based on their perceived value to users. While all engines are different, and while the rules are always changing, search engines generally look for a few key things:
- The number of external websites which link to your website.
- The extent to which the keywords used in your website copy match those which the user is searching for. This is important – as your site needs to reflect what a user would realistically search for, not the terms that you necessarily want to use to promote your business. Keywords used in navigation and headings are given more priority and value than words used in page copy.
- Your page titles (the phrase which appears in the top left hand side of your browser) and metadata (more on this later).
- The number of links you have within your website – between pages.
What are keywords (or keyphrases)?
These are the specific words that users will enter into a search engine (such as Google) when looking for a particular product or service. Accordingly, keyphrases are strings of words which users might search for.
For instance, here are some of the terms that users might search for if looking for Big Click Studios:
- Central Coast web design
- Sydney web design
- Web development
- Online Marketing
Through optimising our website using these keywords (i.e. integrating them into the copy and page titles), we have been able to achieve number one rankings for our site. For instance, if you search for “central coast web design” in Google, our website is the first non-paid listing that displays:
Obviously, “owning” keywords is impossible – and SEO is a competitive business. The more websites out there that use the same words as you, the more difficult it will be. The trick is to use the right words, and the ones that will necessarily get the most impact – not those which are the most popular.
What is metadata?
Metadata refers to the text (meta keywords and a meta description) which your website developers can insert into the code of your site to ensure it is as optimised as possible. Keyword metadata used to be one of the main ways in which sites were index – though isn’t referred to so much these days. However, search engines can sometimes take a meta description that’s been inserted into your code, and display it along with your website in the results page.
Can SEO backfire?
It definitely can. One of the tricks of SEO is to strike a delicate balance between “optimisation” and overdoing it. If a search engine believes your website isn’t genuine (i.e. only built to capture search leads rather than genuinely adding value), you could end up being blacklisted. This would obviously be a branding and marketing disaster for any small business.
Can I optimise an existing website?
Absolutely. While it’s obviously better to optimise a website as it’s being developed (to ensure you have the right navigation and set up), it’s definitely possible to optimise a website that already exists. In fact, SEO should always be an ongoing process. To some extent, it will always be based on trial and error – so it’s important to regularly examine what’s working, and what’s not – and making ongoing modifications to boost your rankings.
So if you are interested in optimising your website, it’s important that you speak with experts – like Big Click Studios – who can help you implement a workable and safe SEO solution.