It is a popular saying that the best place to hide dead bodies is on the second page of Google; unfortunately, this saying has some merit. The overwhelming majority of clicks for an online search are done on the first page of results. So what can be done, and how can we do it? The answer is simple: Search Engine Optimisation.
Search engines rule over the internet. Nothing is hidden from their gaze. They can build empires and overthrow powerhouses and they show no mercy to those who don’t comply. If they don’t understand or like you, you will be buried in the recesses of the internet. No matter how hard we try, we are subject to these search engines rules and regulations to make our online presence feature in the best possible position. We have to adhere and practically apply Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to our websites.
Since SEO is such a major buzzword for online activity, everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon. Very few really know exactly what it is, and how to use it optimally. This is what I am trying to clarify today.
Before we continue, let’s establish a basic understanding that SEO is not a fad and not something you can pay for to get to the top of any page (although you can pay a service provider to improve it). It is not charged per click by a search engine when somebody clicks on that link. It is organic, meaning your efforts to give readers the best possible content is either rewarded or penalised.
What is Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO improves your visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. It improves your rankings, drives traffic to your site and increases awareness in search engines. This is the default description but can still be unclear. In essence, Search Engine Optimisation is the effort of the company or individual to make it as easy and effective as possible for the reader to search for specific content and to find it easily. In order to find these results, search engines have a set of requirements they think will enable the reader to find the most suited results.
Search Engine Optimization, as a whole, is the only non-paid way to make you more visible on search engine platforms. It is more effective in the long term than paid advertising. Like all business activities or contracts, there are specific guidelines we must adhere to. Although these guidelines are regularly updated, there is no escape from them.
But what does SEO do exactly?
How can it help you through the minefield of requirements from the search engines? It uses a few instrumental factors:
- One of the tools Google and Microsoft (the Bing browser) use is called “spiders”. Spiders are pieces of unique code that crawl the web in search of keywords and phrases to determine the relevance of your site when someone enters a keyword or phrase into a search engine. So making sure the keywords on your site are relevant and well placed is essential. SEO can give you suggestions, trends and pointers.
- Linking with other websites is another important factor used by search engines. This is also referred to as back-linking. Reputable pages that link to your page improve your SEO score. Although you cannot generally control inbound links to your website, there are some steps to improve your rating. Linking to social media, referencing and inbound or outbound hyperlinks can help improve your website.
- Changing the content on your website also increases the effect of your site. You may want to change some of the content on your website at least once a month. Alternatively, set up a blog on your website and set aside some time to create high-quality content to put on it. Be sure to link your blog to social media, or send it out with an email to clients, so they are made aware that you have posted new content for them to read.
- Keeping up to date with the latest SEO requirements and guidelines is also very important. As previously mentioned, the algorithms Google and Microsoft use evolve constantly. Keeping up with these algorithms is essential to the success of your website. Conforming to the regulations set by these search engines can help and/or continue your website to succeed on the web.
Benefits of proper Search Engine Optimisation
Proper Search Engine Optimisation has the ability to improve your standing with regards to search results and can have you reap rich rewards: About 60% of all organic clicks (clicks that are not influenced by ads or other paid media) go to the top three search results. This means that if you are not on the first page, let alone the top three results, your chances of being found by a potential customer is severely reduced.
Fact: Paid ads are not really that popular after all! 70-80% of users ignore paid advertisements and only focus on the organically generated results. So trying to take a shortcut by throwing your money at paid advertisements, and not giving attention to your organic rankings, will not work effectively.
The importance of Quality Content
Search engines use absolutely all the text on your website to determine your rank. That includes text that is not displayed, like image tags, page titles – even the way your page links are constructed.
Content must be relevant, substantial and not be copied. Duplicating another website’s content will count against you with strong penalties. The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings, the more quality content each web page has. Validated (working and relevant) links from other websites that link to your website are also a factor. And search engines are smart - they recognise low-quality links from random, small, insignificant websites that will end up counting against your website.
If you do not know how to do Search Engine Optimisation, ask an expert. Some companies charge exorbitant amounts of money to do your SEO for you, using technical gibberish that will literally leave you “Googley” eyed. This is not essentially needed, as informing yourself on what to do and learning the basics can already make a major difference. Yet – if you do not have the knowledge and the time, please leave it to those who truly know how.
So there you have it: SEO is not a science that we should be scared of or intimidated by. If you need any advice, have any comments or require some assistance for your website, please reach out to us.