You may have heard the term SEO before, especially if you work in the realms of online marketing. SEO is one of those things that people commonly assume is either too technical for them or not worth paying attention to.

SEO can help the visibility of your website or product online, making it well worth your time to learn about!

Technical language can be confusing, so we’ve tried to explain SEO in simple terms. SEO is a lot less complicated than it seems, but there are a few different approaches that may be useful for you to learn about. Let’s get started with the basics!

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
Search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ecosia. SEO refers to how visible (or not) your website is in searches when people use these search engines online.

The nitty gritty of SEO

There are countless web pages on the internet, so how does a search engine decide what to show a user?
When you search for something on the web, you want the pages that a search engine shows you to be relevant and useful.

Now imagine you’re on the other end of that scenario – you have a page that you’re sure is relevant and useful to your audience, so how do you make sure it gets seen by the right people?

The answer is Search Engine Optimisation. SEO shows search engines that your content is worth seeing, and that it should be ranked high in searches.

Why bother with SEO?

SEO takes time and – let’s face it – effort! Is it worth it? Why bother with SEO? We’ve listed a few reasons below and included an infographic so you can find out more at a glance.

Increase visibility –

The first reason is the most obvious and (one of) the most important! SEO increases your visibility and allows others to find you on web searches. This is important for all sorts of reasons, but improved SEO means a higher chance that someone looking for your product or service will find you. Many people think that they can sit back and relax after publishing a website online and assume that once your brand is out there in the world people will find it – this isn’t always true! It takes effort and work to get your website in front of the right people, but SEO increases the likelihood of the right users finding your website during their search.

Attract new customers –

As well as helping your existing customers find you easily, SEO makes it easier for new customers to find you. If you’re looking to scale up your business, then it would be a good investment to optimize your webpage for search engines!

Clear purpose –

A benefit of focusing on SEO (that you might not think of straight away) is that when you focus on increasing your use of relevant keywords, key messages, and clear headings, a fortunate side effect is that you’ll also end up with clearer messaging overall. This will help make your service/product’s message more apparent to customers. Your brand message may be obvious to you, but SEO will ensure that it’s obvious for everyone else as well!

Considered content –

SEO often means going through your content and considering any links, keywords, and descriptions carefully. Just as with the point above, this will mean that your content is considered, and often higher quality. You’re also more likely to catch any mistakes as you go through!

Higher traffic –

Higher traffic to your website doesn’t just benefit you – it will also benefit any of your outgoing links. If you choose to have affiliate links on your website or advertising (so you earn more when more users click on your outbound links) then you will benefit from more clicks.

How can I improve my SEO?

Make sure your content is relevant

The most important thing when trying to optimise your content for search engines is to make sure that your content is directly relevant to your subject and target audience. If you’ve written a blog post about cooking, for example, everything from the title down to the closing paragraph needs to be about cooking. This may be easy when creating short forms of content that can be summed up in a few paragraphs, but relevancy becomes more of a challenge when you’re posting longer forms of content, like articles.

According to this article on searchenginejournal.com, “Length [of content] matters, but relevance matters more”. This means that writing a short, succinct blog post that is directly relevant to your topic will rank in search engines higher than a long, meandering blog post that isn’t relevant.

Consider your topic carefully when creating content, and make sure that this topic is referred to throughout the web page you’re trying to optimise.

Keywords

How do you make sure your content is relevant? Keywords! Pick a keyword (or phrase) and aim to use it multiple times throughout your webpage. You should aim to use your keyword in the title and introduction, but also a few times scattered throughout the page. Search engines use keywords to which pages are relevant, so think of a keyword/phrase that you would put into a search engine if you were looking for your own page.

Metadata

Metadata is simply the data that tells search engines what your webpage or website is about (metadata just means data that is about data!). Including relevant keywords in your title & description metadata (the title that will appear on the browser window and the short description that will give users a preview) will increase the visibility of your webpage in search engines.
Website building platforms or software will have a section where you can add in your website metadata when you are first creating your page.

In the example below, you’ll see that when a user searches for the phrase ‘cookery’, the title metadata is the blue text that tells you the title of the webpage. The grey text underneath is the description metadata. Filling this in correctly when creating your webpage will help search engines rank your site higher according to your keywords.

Stay up to date 
 
SEO is based on algorithms used by search engines, and these algorithms can change over time. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re staying up to date with what algorithms are currently favouring. A good way to stay in the loop is to regularly read blogs and articles that focus on SEO. Search Engine Journal is a good option, along with Google’s own blog (Google Search Central Blog) and Search Engine Land (https://searchengineland.com/). 
 
Links 
 
Linking to other websites that are also relevant to your keywords/chosen subject helps show to a search engine that your page is useful. Helpful, relevant links on your webpage will improve your SEO – just make sure that you’re linking to high quality websites. Who knows, other websites that you link to may just return the favour! 

SEO may be one of those phrases that seems overly complicated, but the premise is fairly simple. Hopefully this guide has helped explain the basics of SEO!