The three letters: SEO, are known only too well by anyone working in digital marketing, but it often remains the domain of technical specialists and so not well understood by others. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is indeed a technical practice, but one that should be understood (if only on the simplest level) by business owners who are looking to pay or already pay for this service.
Understanding how SEO works at a basic level (when explained properly) can be hugely beneficial to the working in many business areas: so here we drill it down to its foundations and take it step by step.
Table of Contents
What is SEO?
SEO is the practice of optimising content on a website so that the machine learning algorithms search engines run on, are able to identify their relevance and present them high up on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). When looking at how SEO works, those in marketing primarily work to make their content relevant for Google – as it holds by far the majority market share, and so it naturally drives more visitors to websites than others.
When a User Searches
Digital marketing departments need to link in their SEO actions to meet with each point of the search process for the ultimate efficiency.
First, a user performs a search by typing their query into a search engine. They are then presented with results that the algorithm deems appropriate and relevant to that search. In order to rank highly amongst search results relevant to the business, there are two main factors taken into consideration:
- Relevance – the search engine must be able to scan through the content on the page and judge it to be appropriate to the users search terms.
- Authority – the search engine must be able to judge how trustworthy the page is.
Demonstrating Relevance and Authority
Firstly, a business’ web content must demonstrate its relevancy and authority in order to rank on search engine results for appropriate user searches.
To demonstrate relevance, a website must clearly demonstrate its topic and niche in its content. This means that the search engine must be able to determine through its words, content, keywords and meta tags what it is about and who it would be relevant for. This can be implemented through the usage of keywords and key phrases, and can occur even in less considered places such as image names.
To demonstrate authority, a website must appear genuine and trustworthy. This is most commonly demonstrated through links from other sites to it, as well as from it to other sites. If other websites deem it relevant and honourable enough to link to, a search engine will take that as a positive reference.
The Two Main Types
As perhaps you may have ascertained from the two points above, there are two main types of SEO activity: that carried out on-page (on a webpage, created and curated by the business) and off-site (on other websites linking back to it).
On-page SEO is the most natural place to start work, but off-site should also be focused on once the on-page basics have been fixed. Off-site SEO can be a myriad of activity – from PR and social media campaigns to news stories, industry articles, referrals and basic links. The latter is really what builds a website’s credibility with a search engine. Whilst a high quantity of links is good (because it shows that lots of other sites deem it relevant), quality links also play a huge role. ‘High authority’ websites such as big brand names, news agencies and high-ranking websites give greater eminence than links from smaller, lesser-known and lesser-visited websites do.
Judging SEO Success
Websites each have a DA (Domain Authority); a score given to them from 1-100 that ranks how likely they are to show up highly on search engine results pages. What is considered a ‘high’ DA score depends on how competitive sites are within the niche it resides in, but anything above 25 to 30 is considered good.
Whilst many assume that typing search queries into a search engine and seeing where the site ranks is an accurate measure of SEO success, it is not – because there are so many factors at play when it comes to displaying what the search engine deems relevant (such as location, sites previously visited, etc) that what it shows for one person, it may not show for another.
Digital marketing specialists use DA checker services to judge their score and can analyse how much traffic to the site is ‘organic’ (not achieved through paid-for advertising) to best understand their current SEO performance.
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Calling In The Experts
While it’s true that most digital marketing professionals will have a base knowledge of SEO, there too are specialists working in the field that do nothing but SEO all day every day.
As Google and other search engines continually improve their machine learning and the algorithm gets smarter, it is better able to judge what is relevant and what users want, and expect, to see. This means that the ways SEO can be worked into a web page and its content is always changing. For example, the most recent Google announcement confirmed that accessibility, increased safety parameters, loading times and the responsiveness of websites to different devices will all have an enhanced focus on search moving forward – but there are announcements of such changes every few months, and tweaks ‘behind the scenes’ just about every day!
Businesses are able to implement certain levels of SEO improvements themselves, but we would always recommend having the support of an SEO expert. Woya Digital have an experienced and enthusiastic team of digital marketing and SEO professionals who can tackle any search-related challenge, and now also provide comprehensive Whitelabel SEO Content and SEO reseller packages.