What Is SEO And How Does It Work?

Posted By
Emma White

Simply, SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of carefully maintaining and marketing websites so that they appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO has been around for many years, although it is an element of marketing that many businesses are just becoming familiar with.

From small businesses to international corporations, and florists to universities, SEO is now an integral part of marketing, and organisations from any sector or background can benefit from it.

How does SEO work?

As both technology and the internet move at such a quick pace, successful SEO strategies have evolved throughout the years, although there are a few important elements that have remained.

For instance, Google, alongside other important and major search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo! prefer only to show the best quality and most relevant websites to users when they search for a search term or search query.

Therefore, websites need to offer quality content, the fastest pages, and the most accessible usability (among many other factors), to be shown anywhere near the top of a results page.

Although this might sound easy, due to the fact that there can be thousands or even hundreds of thousands of websites competing to offer the same information or product, each one needs to be at the very top of its game to appear at the top and the first page of search engine rankings.

How can you optimise a website for search engine success?

How you optimise a website can depend on what kind of website it is, what audience you want to target, and what information or products you want to provide.

For instance, an eCommerce website (a website that sells goods online) will want to appear highly for the products that it sells, whereas a news website might want to appear only for the most recent news stories or topics.

How you want your website to appear in search engines will depend on the strategies you use to optimise them.

The very first step once that a website has been built to a good technical standard, usually involves something called keyword research.

Put simply, keywords are relevant and popular terms that you would use to appear in search results to drive organic search traffic to your website.

Usually, keyword research will involve investigating competitors and studying how they use important keywords.

You can also use a range of tools that can show you which are the most popular keywords in your industry or sector. The most prominent SEO tools for this are:

You can also use Google Search Console to help you discover keywords that are important to your website.

Once that you have found the correct and best keywords, you can incorporate them into original, high-quality copy for your website.

What other ranking factors must be considered?

Of course, keyword research, while being one of the most important aspects of a successful SEO campaign, it is one of many, and there are other important factors that search engine algorithms consider for search ranking, including:

Technical auditing

This involves checking whether your website can be crawled and indexed by search engine crawlers.

Crawlers read your website in order to understand what it is about so that they can offer it and or its pages to the right users.

Onsite optimisation

Although keywords are a factor of onsite optimisation, it is also important to consider site architecture, navigation from an internal perspective, content relevancy, page speed, the structure of internal links, meta descriptions and accessibility for mobile devices.

These are factors that are more closely aligned to an area of SEO called “technical SEO”, which is more specialised and tends to involve a higher skillset and understanding, usually provided in the form of an SEO expert.

User experience

When search engines, especially Google, choose to show which websites to offer users, one of the most important factors that they take into account is how well users can experience a website.

These are usually determined by one or more of Google's algorithms and will involve looking into the quality of the content, how authoritative it is, how fast the web pages load, and how these factors compare against similar websites.

Off-page optimisation

You can also help boost your website by performing a range of digital marketing campaigns, such as creating linkable content (content marketing), and by offering promotions, outreach, PPC, and partaking in social media.

This area of SEO is particularly important to get right, as link building and the number of inbound links pointing towards a website is beneficial, but they must be of good quality, relevant, and under no circumstances should they be bought.

When practicing good SEO, it is important to stick to best practice guidelines set out by search engines. You can read Google’s, here.

If you’re doing SEO in 2019, Take a look at these advance SEO tips.

What happens if I don’t adhere to best practice guidelines

In the past websites have been known to violate the terms and guidelines set out by search engines, which means that they take violations very seriously.

For instance, in the past, some websites were known to “stuff” keywords into their landing pages, while others would spend thousands of dollars per month buying links; both of which can lead to websites no longer appearing in search results.

These tactics are often referred to as "black hat SEO".

When embarking on an SEO campaign therefore, it is important to use only honest SEO techniques so that you don’t get targeted by penalties.

Although not every punishment will involve de-indexing, even a search engine’s smaller punishments can lead to a loss in both organic traffic and revenue.

Can I learn more about starting SEO marketing?

Across the internet, there is a range of guides, videos, and podcasts that can help you learn more about SEO.

For beginners, Google has published its very own beginner's guide for those who want to learn more, and it is well worth taking the time out to read and digest.

However, if like many business owners you don’t have the time to learn SEO from scratch, and then implement it, you can enlist the services of a local digital marketing company. A full service agency can take care of SEO for you meaning you don’t have to learn the ins and outs or pay monthly subscriptions to marketing tools.

If you want to talk about how ranking on the first page of Google could benefit your business, call Multi Layer Media on 01245 934167 or email us on contact@multi-layer-media.co.uk for a free, no obligation chat.