What is SEO? Search engine optimisation explained

Have you heard about SEO but are not sure what it is? Read on to find out more about search engine optimisation.

20th January 2021
What is SEO? Search engine optimisation explained

SEO is a term that gets used a lot when discussing digital marketing and websites. It can often be misused or is a term that is not as well known as people may think it is.

If you want to understand better what SEO is and why it is important for your business, then read our handy guide to search engine optimisation below.

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is increasing the quantity and improving the quality of organic (non-paid) traffic from search engines.

SEO consultants and SEO agencies will achieve these objectives by optimising a website for the many ranking factors that search engines use to determine their search results.

What are SERPs?

SERPs stand for search engine results pages. These are the pages that are displayed after a user searches for a query on a search engine.

The SERPs on the leading search engines have drastically changed over the years. Initially, the results consisted of just a list of links, often ten per page. Since then, the SERPs have developed to include products, FAQs, local results, images, search query suggestions and more.

You will find the SERPs changing frequently, and you are likely to notice search engines rolling out new features and design tweaks each month.

SEO and Google

Generally, when people are referring to search engine optimisation, they mostly mean optimising for Google. The search engine giant has over 90% marketing share globally. Of course, other search engines exist, but their market share is significantly smaller. For example, Google’s next biggest competitor Bing has a market share of under 3%.

You should note that you should always check the search engine market share in your country despite Google dominating search globally. For example, in China, Baidu is the most popular search engine with almost 75% market share. You may find your results lacklustre if you optimise a Chinese based website under the assumption that Google is your number one priority.

Why is SEO important for marketing?

You might be asking “Why is SEO even that important?” The reason SEO is so vital is that organic search is the primary source of traffic for websites. A study by BrightEdge shows that over 53% of website traffic comes from organic search alone. That means, on average, over half of all websites’ traffic is from non-paid listings on search engines.

A study by AHREFS also highlights how vital SEO is. SEO can help you avoid wasting time producing content that does not deliver results. In the study by AHREFS, they determined that over 90% of web pages do not receive any traffic from Google.

The question you need to ask yourself then is if you are not currently driving any traffic from search engines, would you like to double your visitors?

SEO is also essential to provide insight into your audience and improve your website’s quality of visits by ensuring you are targeting the correct search terms. Both of these can help to increase your conversion rates.

SEO ranking factors explained

You probably want to know how you optimise your website for search engines? You can essentially categorise ranking factors into two categories, on-page/on-site and off-page/off-site.

On-page refers to any factors directly related to your website and its pages. The types of on-page factors include:

  • UX
  • Keyword usage
  • Mobile optimisation
  • Search engine crawler accessibility
  • Metadata and structured data

Off-page refers to ranking factors that are not on your website. Types of off-page ranking factors include:

  • Quality and trustworthiness of links to your domain
  • Quantity and relevance of links to your pages and domain
  • Brand usage and entity association

Within each of the types of factors mentioned above, there are many other more specific factors.

What types of SEO services are available?

You might be wondering at this point, how do you have your site optimised for search. Well, you have a few options:

Each of these approaches has its pros and cons. Much of this is a trade-off between costs and then resources and experience to complete the SEO work. For example, you could do the work yourself, which costs only your time but is limited by your experience. Alternatively, you could hire an SEO agency, which could be very expensive, although they likely have more experience and resources than yourself.

What types of SEO tools are available?

There are many different SEO tools available. Generally, SEO tools fall into the following categories:

  • Keyword research tools/planners
  • Website SEO audit tools
  • Competitor link analysis tools
  • SEO analytics tools

There are many other tools for more specific tasks. Still, you will often find many of the available SEO tools fall into one of the above categories.

How can I learn more about SEO?

So you want to find out more about SEO? Well, firstly you check out the articles on our blog. We post about all things digital marketing, including SEO, content marketing and social media marketing.

Google provides lots of useful content on Google Search Central, and the Google Search Central YouTube channel also has lots of excellent SEO video content.

You can keep up to date with industry news and tips and tricks on sites such as SE Roundtable, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Journal.

Wrapping up

You should now have a much better understanding of SEO. If you want to find out more about our SEO services, then email us hello@strategyst.co.uk.

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The Author: Daniel Lee

I am a digital marketing strategist with more than ten years' experience. I have worked in digital marketing agencies, as well as client-side. My clients include small businesses all the way up to FTSE100s. I am particularly passionate about digital marketing strategy.

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