Marketing is full of acronyms – CRM, PPC, CTR, SERP. As a business owner, you don’t need to know all the acronyms in the marketing alphabet soup, but there are a few that should be in your vocabulary. One of those is SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, is a key way that your potential customers find you online. Search engines, like Google or Bing, are complex algorithms that work to satisfy users’ queries. They collect information from all the websites and pages on the internet and use that information to serve searchers the best, most relevant results.
Websites and pages with proper SEO are more likely to appear in relevant search results and will ideally appear higher in those results. Since most business these days starts on the internet, a strong SEO strategy is all but required for success.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation, in simple terms, is a way for your website to better communicate with search engine algorithms. When algorithms understand you better, they’ll show you to more searchers and reward you with a higher ranking on results pages.
The goal of all search engines is to give users a great experience. That means delivering highly relevant search results in the form of quality websites and web pages. To do that, search engine algorithms take into account a number of factors about a webpage. Everything from the text written on the page to how it’s organised to how fast the page loads is analysed and considered when deciding what to include in search results.
No one except the creators know exactly how search engine algorithms work, but we do know some of the things that are most important to them. By optimising these things on each page of your website, you give yourself the best chance to be found by people searching for businesses like yours.
Those important factors can be grouped into three broad categories: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
On page SEO deals with the things on your website pages that you have the most control over. It focuses more on individual pages, rather than on the website as a whole.
On-page SEO includes factors like:
- Keyword targeting
- Title tags
- Meta data
- Image alt text
- Internal linking
One of the first things you’ll do when creating a new web page or writing a new blog is decide on a target keyword or phrase. For example, a hardware store may target the phrase “building supplies” or “hardware tools.” A beauty brand may target the keyword “skincare” or “shampoo for women.”
These keywords or phrases are things that you want to be found for and associated with. Including these in your content, your headlines, your title, and your metadata is the simplest way of telling search engines what your content is about.
Of course, search engines don’t exactly read content the way that we humans do. Where we see text on a screen, search engines see the HTML code behind the scenes. The way that you structure that HTML gives search engines a wealth of information that they use to rank your pages in search results.
H2 and H3 tags are useful for further keyword targeting and showing structure and organisation. Since search engines can’t “see” images or videos, media attributes like alt text gives information about the image or video. Metadata helps search engines gauge relevance and encourages clicks on your site.
On-page SEO is all about telling search engines what your content is about and proving that you can deliver a quality, relevant experience to searchers. Since the goal is to provide users with a good experience, search engines will show websites that deliver that good experience.
Technical SEO broadens its focus to the website as a whole. It takes into account the things that users don’t see but that still affect their experience on the site.
Technical SEO aspects include things like:
- Working links
- Site speed
- Page load time
- Mobile friendliness
- Media optimisation
- Site security
Think of the things that would make you close out of a website. Even if the content answered your questions, you wouldn’t stick around for a page that takes forever to load. You wouldn’t appreciate clicking on links that don’t lead anywhere. If that page was distorted or hard to navigate on a mobile device, you probably wouldn’t be keen to visit again.
Search engines know this and take those factors into account when ranking sites. No matter how good your content is, a poorly functioning site will hurt your rankings in search results.
Many of these factors are addressed by your website developer. When building your site, they should ensure that all links are working and that it’s mobile friendly. They should know the appropriate media sizes to ensure quick loading and set you up with a fast, efficient server.
Websites are more than just what appears to visitors on the screen. Technical SEO helps your website perform as good as it looks.
Finally, off-page SEO is the optimisation of things that don’t appear on your website pages. This focuses on the surrounding internet connections that your website has.
Off-page SEO includes things like:
- Domain authority
- Social media presence
- Google My Business profile
Imagine if you were set up on a blind date. You would probably look the person up on social media. If you have mutual friends, you’d talk with them for information on your date. You’d probably even search for their name online and look at what connections they have to people, organisations, universities, etc.
Search engines look for this type of information too, to assess your website’s legitimacy, authority, relevance, and more.
If a lot of sites link back to yours, a search engine can assume that you are an authority in your space. If you have a complete social media profile and post often, they can assume that you are a legitimate, active business. The information you put into things like Google My Business helps search engines determine what kind of business you are and how you might relate to users’ search terms.
No man is an island and the same applies to websites. Connections across the internet show legitimacy and relevance that can put you at the top of search results.
Why is SEO Important?
Search engine optimisation is key to getting your website and content found on the internet. 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Organisations with strong SEO strategies are poised to grow and thrive in this digital age.
Simply put, SEO increases your visibility. As your SEO practices improve, your website can move up the ranks and, ideally, reach the first page of results. When was the last time you visited page 2 of Google search results? 75% of people never do.
First page placement means more impressions for your content and your brand. Even if searchers don’t click through to your website, simply seeing your content in search results can boost brand awareness and add credibility.
Those clicks are likely to come, though. 53% of all web traffic comes from organic search results. That traffic brings customers wanting to learn more about you, wanting to engage with you, and wanting to convert.
When done correctly, SEO is a strong strategy that can return up to 12x your marketing spend. As powerful as it is, implementing and maintaining proper SEO can be a full time job. A search engine optimisation agency can help keep your website up-to-date and ranking high.
Unified Marketing works with one of the leading SEO agencies in Australia to audit your current website or create a new one that is ready to perform. We handle on-page, off-page, and technical SEO, in alignment with your broader marketing strategy, to help you succeed.
Schedule a free SEO consultation with us today to get started.