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  • Writer's pictureMichael Marshall

SEO Basics: How does SEO Work

Looking into the basics of SEO

As a web design agency, we understand that the term "SEO" might sound like a foreign language to many of our clients. Fear not – in this post, we'll demystify SEO, unravel its mysteries, and shed light on why it's crucial for the success of your website.

How does SEO Work?

Google and other search engines use an algorithm to crawl all of the websites on the internet and then index them based on the content that on the website. When a person searches for something in Google, the search engine looks through its index and shows the results it thinks are most suitable on the Search Results Page. SEO works by updating a website to enhance the chance that the search engine displays the site.

SEO ultimately stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This just means making adjustments to your website over time to increase the chance that it is shown on search results.

To understand how SEO works, you need to know what a keyword is. Google shows results to searchers based on the "search term" they type in. Google breaks up a search term into "keywords". For example a user could type:

"Used car dealership near me"

Google will see two keywords in this term:

  1. Used car dealership

  2. Near me

Google will look at the location of the user and then look for websites that are listed as used car dealerships in the area that the user has searched.

If a user types in "best recipes for macaroni cheese", Google then looks at all websites that have a page titled "Best recipe for Macaroni Cheese". Certainly there will be thousands of website with that page. So Google then looks at a number of factors at determining which website to show to the searcher. The process of updating your site to maximise these factors is the process of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

To briefly touch on the points that Google looks at without going into too much detail I have provided a short list of the factors which Google considers:

  1. How old is the website

  2. How many page visits does the page get

  3. If a user visits the page do they spend time on it or just leave quickly after arriving

  4. Does the page have a god amount of written content (between 500 and 1000 words)

  5. Does the page have pictures

  6. Does the page have videos

  7. Is the page mobile friendly

  8. Is the page optimised for users who are hard of sight

  9. Is the page easy to use

  10. Is the page structured clearly

  11. Do other websites link to this page

That list is by no means the full list of things that the Google Algorithm considers, but hose are some of the most crucial elements.

Why New Websites Don't Rank High in Google:

Launching a new website is exciting, but don't be disheartened if it doesn't skyrocket to the top of Google's search results immediately. Search engines need time to discover, crawl, and index your site. Additionally, competition is fierce, and established websites have a head start in building authority. Patience is key, as the age of a website is one of the factors Google considers when ranking pages.

Google values sites that publish new content regularly. This is because Google sees that as valuable to the website visitors. If you want your new website to do well on Google make sure to have a content strategy in place that allows you to publish content regularly. This is why many websites have blog sections.

Why Your Site May Not Rank for the Terms You Want Initially:

While it's a worthy goal, instant gratification is rare in the SEO world. Google's algorithms evaluate numerous factors, including relevance, content quality, and user experience. It takes time for your site to earn credibility and relevance, so stay committed to the long game.

If you want your site to rank for specific keywords you need to make sure that you have those keywords present on your site. If there is a very specific keyword you want to rank for then it is a good idea to have a dedicated page that has that keyword as the title. For example if you are hairdresser and you want to be displayed when people search for "men's haircuts", then you should have a page on your site titled "men's haircuts". You should also mention the term on other places in your website too, for example you might have a page called "services" and then have a section that page titled "men's haircuts" that links to the men's haircuts page.

Strategies for SEO Success:

While there are many different strategies for SEO success these are the core ones that never change:

  1. Quality Content: Craft engaging, relevant, and well-structured content that addresses your audience's needs. Regularly update your website with fresh and valuable information.

  2. Keyword Optimisation: Identify and integrate relevant keywords naturally into your content, titles, and meta tags. Be strategic, avoiding keyword stuffing, as it can harm rather than help.

  3. User Experience Matters: Ensure your website is user-friendly, with easy navigation and fast loading times. A positive user experience contributes to higher rankings.

  4. Build Quality Backlinks: Establish links from reputable websites to yours. Quality over quantity is crucial; Google values links from authoritative sources.

Google Ads as a Quick Fix:

If you're eager for immediate results, Google Ads can provide a shortcut to visibility. These paid ads can place your website at the top of search results for specific keywords. While it's a quick fix, remember that it's a temporary solution that requires ongoing investment.

SEO Is an Ongoing Process:

Think of SEO as a marathon, not a sprint. It's not a one-time task but a continuous effort. Regularly update your site, adapt to algorithm changes, and stay informed about industry trends. Consistency and persistence will pay off in the long run.

SEO relies of analysing the data from your website and updating the website accordingly. Remember that Google expects you to keep your website up to date and to publish new and interesting content for your users regularly.

Your website is dynamic entity that requires monitoring and upkeep in order for it to work for you.

Conclusion: Come up with a strategy and commit to it. Results come to those who persistently work towards the outcome they want.

SEO is the secret sauce that transforms your website from a hidden gem to a shining star in the online world. Embrace the journey, invest in quality content and user experience, and consider Google Ads for a speedy ascent. Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint – with time, dedication, and the right strategies, your website will climb the ranks and reach new heights.

If you need help with your SEO or if this post has sparked your interest you can always book a call with us to discuss your site, go through your analytics and come up with a strategy to start ranking higher in searches.

SEO Glossary of Terms:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The process of optimizing a website to improve its visibility on search engines and increase organic (non-paid) traffic.

  2. SERP (Search Engine Results Page): The page displayed by a search engine in response to a user's query, showcasing a list of relevant websites and their rankings.

  3. Keywords: Specific terms or phrases users enter into search engines. Incorporating relevant keywords into content helps improve a website's visibility for those terms.

  4. Meta Tags: HTML tags that provide information about a web page to search engines. Key meta tags include the title tag, meta description, and meta keywords.

  5. Backlinks: Links from other websites to your site. Quality backlinks from reputable sources can boost your site's authority and search engine rankings.

  6. Crawling: The process by which search engine bots systematically browse and index web pages, collecting information to determine their relevance.

  7. Indexing: Storing and organizing the information collected during crawling in a search engine's database, making it retrievable for future search queries.

  8. Algorithm: The complex set of rules and calculations search engines use to determine the relevance and ranking of web pages in search results.

  9. PageRank: Google's algorithmic method of measuring the importance and authority of a web page based on the quantity and quality of its backlinks.

  10. Alt Text: Descriptive text added to an image tag in HTML, providing information about the image. Alt text is crucial for accessibility and can also impact SEO.

  11. Canonical URL: The preferred URL of a web page, used to avoid duplicate content issues. Canonical tags indicate the primary version of a page to search engines.

  12. Organic Traffic: Visitors who come to a website through unpaid (organic) search engine results, as opposed to paid advertising.

  13. Anchor Text: The clickable text in a hyperlink. Using relevant and descriptive anchor text can contribute to the SEO value of the linked page.

  14. Local SEO: Optimization strategies focused on improving a website's visibility in local search results, often essential for businesses targeting a specific geographic area.

  15. Sitemap: A file that lists all the pages on a website, helping search engines understand its structure and index its content more effectively.

  16. Robots.txt: A text file placed in a website's root directory that instructs search engine bots which pages to crawl and which to avoid.

  17. 404 Error: An HTTP status code indicating that a requested page is not found on the server, potentially leading to a negative impact on SEO if not addressed.

  18. Long Tail Keywords: Specific and often longer search phrases that target niche audiences. They can be less competitive and may result in higher conversion rates.

  19. Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate may signal issues with content or user experience.

  20. Conversion Rate: The percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form. Tracking conversions is vital for assessing the effectiveness of SEO efforts.


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