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Understanding SEO; the beginners' guide to Search Engine Optimisation for business owners.

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

What is SEO in digital marketing?

Search Engine Optimisation, better known as SEO, is optimising websites and web pages to improve a webpage's visibility on the search engine results page (SERP) for products or services.

Google search apps on IOS and Android.
Google. Organising the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful.

Search Engine Optimisation is a great free way to increase traffic to your website, raise brand awareness and drive product sales. When executed correctly, SEO increases web page discoverability, which results in more organic traffic, resulting in clicks to your landing page.

Google uses its algorithms to determine which pages best meet a search query entered by a user. The Google bots look at everything from the quality of the content, the structure of the page, how well it is optimised, the author, references, sources, and many more factors before determining if it should show a website page. This article provides a valuable overview of some of the SEO processes and the fundamentals that help you get to grips with SEO.

Website designed and built to deliver user great user experience and meet search engine optimisation requirments.
Website designed for users and meeting design principles.

Why is SEO important?

  • A good SEO approach helps you rank your chosen keywords and phrases higher in Google, allowing more people to see your website, leading to more customers and sales.

  • SEO helps you reach the right audience. If a search engine user is looking for an answer to a question, they want quick and informative results that are easy to read and understand. Getting ranked high on Google for a specific keyword or phrase makes it much easier for users to find your site, increasing the likelihood of finding what they're looking for and converting into a customer or lead.

  • SEO is a cost-effective way to attract audience members without massive budgets for digital advertising or campaigns.

  • If done correctly, SEO can continue bringing traffic to your website long after the content has reached its lifecycle.

  • By creating content, your audience wants and google loves; you increase your digital footprint and presence.

Key SEO terms to know and how they work

When you release a new website or digital product, search engine providers like Google take your website and index this.

They send what is known as Google bots to crawl across your entire website, looking at content, links, and technical build, collating as much information as possible, and placing this in their extensive index. Think of their index as one big digital library where everything is grouped into appropriate categories.

Google needs to index your page to determine your webpages content for ranking.

Filing cabinet representing SEO indexing
Google indexes your webpage. Similar to a filing process.

Once they have indexed your website, Google's next step is to use their ranking factors (of which there are thousands) to determine how your pages should appear based on a search query a user enters within their search engine.

Google will look at the search's intent and display the content that best meets this user's question. It is your job to make sure you are following Google's principles for developing relevant, expert, authoritative and trustworthy content, better known as

Crawling and Indexing can be interchangeable, and it is essential to know that there are two kinds of Crawling Google does.

The first type is discovery, where google sends its bots to find new webpages to add to their index.

The second is what is known as refresh, and this is where Google discovers changes in web pages that are already indexed.

To determine where to rank your web pages, we listed some of the core signals to pay attention to; Google doesn't tell us what all the signals are for ranking but the ones they share; it is vital you pay close attention and adhere to these.

Google studies;

  • How many internal links do you have across your website?

  • The number of external links

  • Your page speed

  • The quality of the content produced on the site

  • Page experience for the user

  • On-page optimisation

  • A mobile-first approach to design

  • Your site's security level should be HTTPS and Rankbrain.

Is Google's AI machine learning system that helps it understand the intent of users' search queries. Rankbrain works by assisting Google in interpreting search queries and providing more concise results. Its introduction in 2015 means your pages need to answer the question for the user's search.

To know what users are looking for, start by reviewing your google analytics and looking at the behavioral flow as they navigate across your site. Next, study your google console performance report; this will let you know what people are clicking on in SERP to find your webpage.

This is the process where Google sends its bots to retrieve all of your webpages, run their code, and access your content to understand your site's build, structure, and layout.

After rendering all the information on your site, Google then uses this information to rank the quality and value of your content compared to other sites and based on user search entries.

What's the difference between Organic and Paid SEO?

Organic SEO refers to optimising your site for organic search visibility. Organic results take a lot longer to get right, but the results are more long-lasting than paid results.

An example of how paid ads are displayed on Google SERP
Google paid ads always appear before organic results

Users who search on Google receive two types of results above the page fold; paid ads appear first. These are ads competitive brands have paid to have to appear when a relevant key term is used.

The paid results are at the top of SERP and identifiable with an Ad - denoting advertisement icon. As you can see, for the search term 'trainers for running long distance,' the first four results are all Ads, then we're presented with organic results.

Organic search results appear beneath paid ads, and Google will present what it feels is most relevant to the user's query.

Example of organic Google search results for the query 'trainers for running long distance.'
Google organic search results for the query 'trainers for running long distance.'

Therefore, companies and marketers place a great emphasis on continuing to succeed by producing content that users and Google will find relevant, thus showcasing this on page 1 of Google.

Paid search results are the outcome of businesses paying Google to run advertising campaigns that always feature above the organic results.

Paid ads are a fast and impactful way to ensure your website and content are discovered. However, paying for either CPC (cost per click), CPA (cost per acquisition), or CPM (cost per thousand impression) is costly.

Google Ad formats you can use for paid advertising

Text Ads: These are word-only ads and are easy to set up and maintain.

Responsive: The types of ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit available spaces- they can also shift from text to image ads.

Image ads: If you have a product that is best represented visually, you can opt for formats in the form of JPG, PNG, and or animated graphics format.

App promotion ads: This is designed to drive app downloads and engagement within app promotional ads. If a potential customer uses Google play, you can target and reach them with app promotion.

Video: Deliver rich and engaging videos that are shown as standalone ads or inserted into streaming video content such as YouTube.

Product shopping Ads: Show consumers your product when users are shopping online for that product or one like it.

Call-only ads: Ideally, if you want to drive prospect or sales calls with your ads. These ads will display your phone number, and when clicked on, these ads automatically call your business.

Why focus on organic SEO?

Users traditionally ignore paid ads and instantly navigate down to the organic results. This is primarily due to users' being against wanting to be retargeted by an Ad once clicked on.

An arrow representing re-marketing and retargeting by Google
Ad retargeting

Most businesses focus on ensuring they are ranking on page 1 of Google. Our advice is to focus on ensuring your pages are ranking for keywords and phrases associated with your products or services for that page.

There is no point in owning a dress shop, but your site pages appear for words associated with 'suits' for weddings' or 'comfortable winter jackets made with cotton.'

It's about making your page that houses a user's search query discoverable. Google treats one webpage as a landing page. If you look at it from this lens, you can shift your focus, ensuring each one of your web pages is designed (from structure to content) for the end users' needs.

All organic search results that appear on the first page of Google are all because Google has determined these pages, based on the spiders crawling the site, have the most relevant content associated with the search query and high ranking factor scores.

What Are the Key Benefits of Search Engine Optimisation?

  • Increased visibility for your webpages

  • Appearing under the appropriate search terms and key phrases users complete online

  • A cost-effective inbound marketing strategy

  • The benefits of receiving traffic are long-lasting

  • It helps you to get more customers

  • It allows you to get more sales

  • It helps you to get more leads

  • It helps you to get more engagement

  • And it also increases your traffic and social media followers

How long it will take for you to see results from SEO depends on a few factors, including:

  • The industry you operate within and how competitive it is.

  • How much E-A-T content you produce (And I don't mean food)?

  • The keywords you're targeting. (For example, if you want to rank for "best bagel shop near me," similar businesses will try to do the same thing.)

  • How much money (if hiring a specialist), time, resources, and effort count towards seeing results.

Now you understand what SEO is, its basics, and why it's essential - final reminder

  • SEO is a digital marketing strategy designed to help your potential target audience find your products and services online. It's about optimising your website pages to be found by people searching for your product or service.

  • It takes time for search engines to recognise changes you make to your site and then rank them accordingly, so don't expect immediate results from any modifications you make.

  • SEO is an ongoing effort, there is no one silver bullet, but with the right tactics and overtime, you can and will pull in organic traffic.

  • Use social media to share and amplify your content to targeted audience members.

If you're not sure where to start and still find SEO overwhelming, book yourself on to our 1-2-1 masterclass – SEO for beginners or enquire for more general information.


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