What Is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimisation) involves following steps designed to improve a website’s ranking in search results. The ultimate goal of SEO is to attract higher numbers of quality visitors to the website through organic search.
Let’s break that description down a bit to get a better understanding:
- Ranking in search results – when a user enters a search request on Google they are shown a list of results. The results at the top of the first page attract the most attention, so it is important to get into at the top two or three positions for as many relevant searches as possible (keywords).
- High quality visitors – it is sometimes thought that SEO is all about getting as much traffic to a website as possible, but it is as important to get good quality traffic. For example, a Locksmith in Birmingham in the US state of Alabama will get no benefit from a website visitor looking for a Locksmith in Birmingham in England.
- Increased quantity of visitors – once the right visitors come to your website, the more the better.
- Organic search – a search engine results’ page is usually made up of both paid-for ads and organic listings, i.e. results that are not paid-for ads. SEO is concerned with organic listings.
Do I Need SEO?
You can attract visitors to your website through organic search but you can also get visitors from other sources:
- Links from other websites (referral traffic);
- Social media;
- Email marketing;
- Paid ads;
- Offline marketing;
- And lots of other methods.
The ideal situation is to attract high quality visitors to your website in as many different ways as possible, but organic search will almost always be an important source. In fact, for many websites it is the primary source of traffic, while for others it is a significant source.
So, do you need SEO? If you attract visitors to your website through organic search, or you want to attract more, then you need SEO. How much SEO you will need depends on your website, business, online strategy, and marketing objectives, but SEO cannot be left to chance.
Search Engine Overview And Doing SEO
When a user does a search on Google – or any other search engine – they want an answer to their query, and Google’s objective is to provide that answer. This involves sifting through millions of website pages and displaying them in order. From Google’s perspective, “in order” means putting the website that is most likely to answer the user’s query into first position on its results page.
This is an important concept: Google’s objective is not to comprehensively list the websites on the internet, or to display your website in organic search results. All it cares about is answering the queries of its users.
It does this by looking at your website’s relevance and popularity, so SEO is about positively impacting your website’s relevance and popularity. In practice this means making sure your website is SEO-friendly, creating fantastic content that people want to read and link to, and increasing awareness of your brand through marketing (link-building, social media, offline marketing, press, etc).
In the next article in the series, we will go into more detail on how search engines work and the processes behind effective SEO.