What Are The Basics of SEO?
Ready to start your journey into the dark art of SEO?
Well, one of the first things we need to cover when looking at the basics of SEO is what the hell it stands for.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
It’s a process where the content on your website or blog is written, designed and labelled in a way that makes it easy for search engines to crawl (read) your content and index (add) it to their database so that your site and content is listed in their results.
Why is it Important?
That is a huge amount of traffic that’s all originating from search engines. And if your site is hard or impossible for a search engine to process then you’ll be given a poor ranking on their site. This means that you’ll appear much lower on search results delivered to a potential customer. Or worst case, you won’t appear at all.
What is an Organic Search Result?
If you’ve ever used a search engine you’ll have undoubtedly noticed that you get two different types of results back.
At the top of the page you’ll see results labelled either as ‘sponsored’ or ‘Ad’. These are paid search results, which are listings that companies have paid to have appear at the top of the page.
Underneath these results, you’ll then see lots of standard listings. These are organic – as in no one has paid for them to appear where they do. And SEO is the magic that delivers a high-ranking listing without having to pay the search engine for the pleasure.
However, unless you’re going to do the optimisation yourself you will need to invest in getting someone to optimise your site for you.
So Why Pay for SEO?
If you have to pay one way or the other why not just pay to be at the top of the page?
You can. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest some of your advertising budget in premium listings as there are a lot of people who go to these listings first.
But, there are also a lot of people who will scroll straight past the ads and sponsored links to the organic listings. The reason is that the companies at the top of the organic lists are generally there because their content, product or service is the most relevant for that search term. Plus, they normally hold the highest authority on the internet for what they do.
Organic SEO is the main driver of trackable web traffic (53% vs. paid’s 27%) so you’d be a fool to ignore its importance for your business.
The Basic Elements Of On & Off-Page SEO
SEO is divided into two sections, on and off-page optimisation.
On-page SEO is to do with what’s going on with your actual site. Whereas off-page is what’s going on outside of your site. SEO isn’t a one or the other deal. To be successful with your SEO you have to cover both On and Off-page optimisation.
What’s Involved in On-Page SEO?
The most important parts of on-page SEO are:
Your site should be filled with content that’s relevant to your business and useful to your target audience. Your copy should be keyword optimised and all images and videos should have alt-text that is relevant to the keyword or phrase that you’re targeting.
It’s all well and good having optimised content, but if the site is poorly laid out or doesn’t respond to the device it’s being viewed on it will be hard for your reader to follow. This means that they may leave your site straight away creating a poor bounce rate, and a poor bounce rate isn’t good.
It tells the search engine that your content isn’t relevant to the search term you optimised for and therefore your content isn’t something they should reward with a boost to your listing.
Metadata & Alt Text
From a website perspective, metadata or meta tags are the title and summary of your content that tells search engines what your page is all about.
It’s also the information that populates the search results for your site – the bits that people see when they’re scrolling through the search result pages. Both the title and description should be keyword optimised, punchy and engaging.
As for alt text, this is the label for the images on your site. They are important for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a vital piece of information to ensure your site is accessible to everyone. If someone is visually impaired their screen reader will use the alt text to tell them what the image is of.
For SEO purposes the alt text is what search engine bots read to help them understand what the content on the page is about and what search terms it should rank under.
The structure of your site and its internal links are important for both the website user and the search engine.
From an SEO perspective, linking between your content is important as it helps the search engine bot navigate through and index your site. It then uses this structure to populate its search results for your site.
From a user perspective, it helps them to get to all of the relevant pages for their needs. Plus, search engines like to see users stay on your site and view multiple pages as it means you have good, relevant content.
A slow site is a poor site in the eyes of search engine bots. To be honest, it’s a poor site in pretty much everyone’s eyes. So ensuring your site loads quickly is vital.
Large file sizes, slow servers, no caching, and too many plug-ins (active or not) are all basic things that can really put a drag on your site’s loading times.
What’s Involved in Off-Page SEO?
The most important parts of off-page SEO are:
Backlinks (links to your site from other sources) are an important part of off-page SEO. But it’s not just quantity, it’s also the quality of the links that’s important.
Backlinks are used to tell search engine bots how popular your site is, as well as what your site is most relevant to. For example, a clothing retailer ideally wants lots of links from other businesses and blogs in the fashion industry, as it shows that they’re a trusted voice in that sector. And therefore, the search engine should push this trusted voice up the search result rankings.
Links back to your website through social media channels, comments, surveys, competitions etc. are all things that help to boost your SEO ranking. The more active companies are on social media, the more traffic is created for their site. And the more popular your site the higher you will rank.
Long Story Short…
SEO is a constantly evolving beast and something that isn’t easy to master, but it is vitally important to make sure that your site at least has the fundamentals in place so that your site can be found and indexed (aka listed) on the various search engines.
Written by Kayleigh Nicolaou
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