If you’ve not been living under a rock for the last 5 or so years, the chances are you’ve heard of SEO. But do you know what it is?
If you’ve been asking yourself “what the hell is SEO, and why does everyone think it’s so important?” then hold tight. We’ll be going through some frequently asked questions about this mysterious ‘tool’, and in just 10 minutes time you’ll have a good understanding of what exactly SEO is and how you can go about doing it for yourself.
Let’s get started…
“What is SEO?”
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the process of ‘optimising’ the content you put online so that you, or your business, are more likely to appear higher up the list of suggested links provided by search engines (i.e. Google, or Bing if you prefer Microsoft) when someone carries out a search.
So, if someone types in ‘copywriter manchester’ and I’ve played my cards right, then my site’s link is more likely to be clicked on because I’ll be higher up the list. If you’re really killing it in the game of SEO, then you’ll find yourself on the very first page of suggestions. Geddit?
“Why is SEO so important?”
According to Protofuse, an Orlando based web design agency, less than 10% of searchers will move to the second page of a search engine to find what they’re looking for. If you can scrape your way to the top, then you’ll have a swarm of clicks coming your way.
So, you’re probably daydreaming about how amazing it would be if your business came up first on google. But before you start trying to do any SEO for yourself, it’s important to know how search engines like Google work.
“How do search engines work?”
Take a deep breath, we’re going deep. Basically, there are 3 steps:
Search engines use automated bots, known as ‘web crawlers’ or ‘spiders’, to scour the web and bring back key data and info about millions of sites. Here’s some of the things these little critters will be looking for:
Page titles – What are you talking about on this page? Are you using keywords that relate to your business or the topic you’re writing about?
Keywords – For example, I’m a copywriter, so I use keywords and tags throughout my site and in my posts that relate to my business. E.g. ‘writing’, ‘copy’, ‘copywriting’, ‘manchester’, ‘bangcopy’, ‘tom hallett’. Capiche?
User Experience – How does your site look? Can you navigate it easily? Does it look like a chore to read or scroll through? Does it run well? Remember that search engines need to deliver quality to their users.
Images – Do the images you’re using have a title, caption, alternate text, description etc.? Apparently web-crawlers sometimes aren’t too sure how to process these without the info above.
Reputation & Trust – Is your site linked to other sites and reputable sources? In order for search engines to start taking notice of you, you’ll need to get a link to your site on someone else’s. The more links on different sites the better.
This is the process of storing all the information that crawlers gather in a HUGE database. Let’s use Just Eat as an example. Just Eat is a site that displays a big convenient list of takeaways and restaurants for you to scroll through when you’re hungry.
When Just Eat were compiling their list, finding all the takeaways would be ‘crawling’, and writing the list of these takeaways is like ‘indexing’. Now imagine that on a MASSIVE scale. Seriously, the amount of data that search engines store is almost incomprehensible. It’s like sticking an entire universe inside a tower block.
3. Ranking & Retrieval
The last step is where you, and everyone else who uses The Internet, come in. When you type something in to Google, the search engine does it’s best to display the most relevant and useful links in order to suit the searcher’s needs.
Sites used to be ranked just by their use of keywords, but that resulted in the ridiculous over-use of keywords throughout websites, which in turn affected the quality of web-content. Nowadays, however, the algorithms that calculate the ranking of various websites are FAR more complex, and numerous details are considered that all play a part in where you show up on ‘the list’.
Hopefully that’s cleared up all this SEO business for you. If you’re running a website or a blog, SEO can be a seriously useful tool and it’s definitely something you should consider doing.
Funnily enough, if you’re thinking about using an SEO Writer going forwards then I know a guy (hint – it’s me, Tom Hallett). See you soon.