SEO- Search Engine Optimisation is the practice of affecting a website’s organic visibility in a search engine’s results pages by adjusting elements on the website. SEO is incredibly important because the ranking on search engines contributes significantly to the traffic flow on a particular site. As a general rule, those ranked highly on search engines, say page one, will receive more traffic on their page which in theory equates to more business than those lower down on the rankings.
To understand SEO, it’s easier to break it up.
- Organic traffic – this is what websites ideally want- unpaid and hopefully high levels of traffic. Organic traffic comes from search providers such as Google’s algorithms picking up keywords and phrases. Google have software which go through the web in a methodical, automated way picking up content they think is relevant and valuable and then ranking it compared to other like pages. It is this data which is used to rank you against competitors when someone enters a search inquiry- if you run a horse riding centre then, it is important to realise the search words your potential riders would use- consider location, what services and levels you offer. If your content is full of relevant keywords and has worth to search engines, they will reward you with a high ranking. Think about what your audience will search to find you- users who are more knowledgeable on your content will search differently than a novice, using abbreviations and potentially informal wording. Google, in their ‘starter guide’ to SEO, speak about this, “Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results.’
- Quality traffic if they’ve searched for a specific item and instead of viewing what they want, hundreds of paid for promoted adverts appear, whilst they may click on them, they will click straight off realising it isn’t what they want- leading to a higher bounce rate for that web page- quality traffic i.e. those who are genuinely interested in your page, are worth far more than a higher volume. Once you have the quality of traffic, it’s easier to gather data from these people as to what they’re wanting from your site, which then converts to higher traffic.
- Search Engines use complex programmes to rank your website and sift through your content. ‘PageRank’ is an algorithm used by Google to rank websites, they give your website a ranked which is how they measure your sites importance. It is important to remember this ranking can change- if you’re number one on Google today you need to maintain that tomorrow, and if you’re on page eleven, you can alter your keywords to increase your ranking through trial and error- what content ranks and what doesn’t.
- Blog! If you’ve always wondered why every website has a blog these days, SEO is your answer! The blog, if updated regularly, provides content to Google which keeps your site relevant. If your content is of value to your target market, for example, if you make leather handbags, and you write a post about the best tips for leather upkeep, Google might pick up on the relevance to your products, and the value this content could have to your audience.
- URLs – improving the structure of your URLs by making them simple to understand will convey content information easily. If your URL is filled with numbers, it will make it harder to link to, and give no hint what it is about- linking to it will be hard as it is difficult to remember. When the search engines are crawling (exploring) on your site, it will make it easier for them to have a more clear and organised site- a distinctive URL will contribute to this.
- Improve your anchor text. Google define anchor text as, “the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link, and is placed within the anchor tag <a href=”…”></a>. If your anchor text accurately describes the content, it will be easier to convey what that context is. It tells the reader what the page is about and makes it easier to navigate your pages- whether this is an internal or external link.