What is SEO?
SEO is optimising content so it achieves the best possible rankings in search engine results.
Search engine algorithms use specific sets of criteria to determine how to rank content. Google’s algorthm, for example, uses over 200 ranking factors.
Professional SEO experts are familiar with the most important ranking factors. As far as possible, they also track changes to these factors. As technologies evolve, the algorithms of major search engines are updated.
The more criteria your content meets, the higher it’s likely to appear in relevant organic, or unpaid, search results.
Examples of important SEO ranking factors
SEO takes two main forms. It includes meeting specific criteria within content published for your business. And it includes building relationships with external parties and sites.
On-page SEO factors
On-page SEO refers to optimising individual web pages for search engines.
On-page elements that affect the SEO of a website include:
- speed – how fast your website loads
- title tags – each page should have a title tag to let search engines know what it’s about
- meta descriptions – these go into a little more detail so search engines can tell whether page content is relevant to specific search terms
- image names and alt text tags – all images should have relevant names and alt text tags so search engines can index them properly
- headings – headings and subheadings should include relevant keywords
- internal links – linking between related content within your site can boost search engine rankings.
Off-page SEO refers to all SEO factors outside of your website that may affect its search engine rankings. It’s worth noting that these elements aren’t all entirely within your control.
Two examples of off-page SEO factors are:
- backlinks – links to your website from other authoritative sites help increase rankings
- social performance – quality likes and shares on social media from influencers can help boost search engine rankings.
How can SEO benefit my business?
The internet has become an incredibly competitive marketing platform. As more brands vie for attention online, making your business visible becomes more challenging.
This is what makes SEO so necessary. It makes your website, and by extension your brand, easier to find.
It’s not just regular Google or Bing searches you need to consider, either. Some social media platforms are being considered de facto search engines these days because of the vast number of searches they handle.
By this standard, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google, handling more than 3 billion searches per month.
Why the need for on-going SEO?
On-going, professional SEO is important for a number of reasons.
Regular updates to ranking factors
Major search engines like Google regularly update their algorithms with new SEO ranking factors.
A few years ago, it made little or no difference if your website was designed to display properly on mobile screens. It didn’t really matter to search engines whether your site used the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP, or if it included regularly updated content.
Today, these are all important SEO ranking factors.
Changes in what users search for
It’s not just search engine algorithms that are evolving. Consumers’ interests change, and this is reflected in new search trends.
The ways users search for content changes over time, too.
With greater use of voice-activated searches, for example, people are tending to use longer-tailed keywords, more question phrases and more direct requests for highly specific information. This calls for an updated approach to SEO.
Proper SEO takes time
Professional SEO experts may invest hundreds of hours in on-going SEO for a single website.
In particular, off-site SEO can be very time-consuming. It takes time to cultivate relationships with external influencers and site owners, and to identify and exploit opportunities for getting links.
It also takes time to plan and generate high-quality, properly optimised onsite content.
This requires keyword research and a clear understanding of a business’s target markets and goals. It also requires the ability to write professionally for the web and to source attractive, suitable images.