SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is a discipline under the umbrella of digital marketing. The goal of search engine optimisation is to ‘optimise’ the SEO digital presence of a website so that it is ranked more favourably in search engine results for queries related to the website.
For example, a pet store would want to appear as high as possible in the search results of a query like “best dog food” or “cat accessories”. This is because they want their business to be exposed first and foremost in front of an audience that’s actively looking for their products and services.
This differs from traditional forms of marketing in which a message is broadcast or displayed, and the business hopes that customers remember them. In this case, the customer expresses their intent via the search engine which then tries to find them the most relevant possible result.
Let’s take a closer look at how SEO works and why it’s so important.
Search engine algorithms
In order to understand the utility of SEO, you need to understand how search engines work. Without getting too technical, search engines use a series of signals to determine the quality, relevance, and sincerity of a website so that they can serve the best possible results to their users.
According to Kev’s Best the world’s leading search engine with over 80% market dominance, naturally has the most advanced algorithm. Over the decades, this algorithm has become more and more human-like in the way it evaluates the content on the internet.
In the early days, Google would simply crawl each webpage on the internet, index it, and then users would search that index for key terms AKA keywords. These basic signals would match the website with search queries based purely on their direct relevance to the keywords in said query.
Basically, if you made a website on which every last bit of free space was used to write “cat food” then that website would be #1 in search results for that keyword. Obviously, this system was easily exploited and thus the algorithm needs to be updated in order to combat dishonest practitioners.
The new Google updates took the way in which the algorithms crawl websites from primitive to sophisticated almost overnight. This is because these updates used artificial intelligence to determine the sincere intent of online content and gauge its semantic quality for SEO.
This meant that websites which attempted to rank high for a keyword by spamming them were quickly punished and pushed to the bottom of search results. Since then there has been a constant battle between algorithm updates and unethical ‘black-hat’ practitioners who seek to find new exploits.
On the other hand, websites that had high quality, sincere content that was designed to help users were pushed to the top of results. Nowadays, a website with a #1 spot will be highly authoritative, trustworthy and linked to by lots of other domains.
What does SEO work look like?
The majority of SEO work is split between two areas; on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation.
On-page optimisation = everything that exists on the website itself that can be improved to make it more attractive to search engines
Off-page optimisation = everything that you do outside of your website to boost its relevancy, such as guest posting.
SEO work can also take the form of copywriting. This involves the creation of webpages, blogs and articles that reference the business and its keywords in a strategic way.
SEO is simply essential for any business that wants to be discoverable on search engines and it should be conducted by a professional digital marketing agency.