search engine optimisation basics seo

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Basics

The Basics of Search Engine Optimisation

There’s two general types of websites.  One is an expanded business card, where potential customers are directed to it by you or some form of your advertising.  The other is a marketing powerhouse that does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

A website that works for you is a collection of “arts”, fused together, much like a video game.  A video game incorporates graphic design, creative storyline, music and other audio at the right time as well as quality programming.  Similarly, a website is a cohesive mix of graphics, easy to read content and quality code.  A website’s “storyline” is the structured path a user should be guided on.

How Google – and other search engines – rank a website is deeply connected to the quality of its various “arts”, after all, it’s not in Google’s best interest to serve poor websites to its users.  That’s where Search Engine Optimisation – also known by its acronym SEO, comes in.

Search Engine Optimisation mainly covers three primary areas with each area having its own rabbit hole.

3 Key Components Of SEO

  1. Great Content (On-Site SEO)
  2. Quality Coding and Optimisation (Technical SEO)
  3. Trust (Off-Site SEO)

Content – On-Site SEO

Website content is ultimately what keeps the user engaged for as long as possible.  It allows them to immerse themselves in your content and build trust in you.  From an SEO perspective, the content greatly assists Google to weigh your website’s offering (its product, service or educational value) against all others.

Keyword Research is extremely important for Search Engine Optimisation as it provides direction for your website pages.  While “keyword stuffing” is a very outdated SEO tactic and should never be used, understanding relevant keywords means you can write content that is both important to Google’s users and your ideal customers.  Little nuances like a plural may drastically change the outcome of your rank.  Obvious examples of important words include the service or product you’re offering, as well as the location you offer it in.  Less obvious keywords may include words such as industry competition, for example “curtains” if you offer venetian blinds.

Keywords aside, the content must be informative or educational – depending on the goal of the piece – in order to improve a user’s time on site metric.  Time on Site is another metric Google uses to determine rank.  If someone is interested they’ll stay longer, and that shows search engines that your website should be well ranked.

Code & Optimisation – Technical SEO

Technical SEO is to a website as a Mechanic is to a car, it’s all about what’s “under the hood”.  While a poor quality website can still function, Google prefers not to force poor running websites on its users.  It wants to provide the premium experience whenever possible.

Times have changes since the 2000’s when people were happy to wait five minutes for a song to download, they now want it straight away.  Studies have shown that a typical user will lose interest in just a few seconds if your website has not loaded, so to meet consumer’s decreasing attention span, search engines prefer to rank faster websites towards the top.

Improving a website’s code and optimising objects like images and plugins goes a long way to enhancing its performance.  A website should be HTML5 compliant (the language interpreted by your browser to show you the website layout, which is also what Google sees) as well as uncluttered in terms of unnecessary and/or disordered code.

Off the shelf content management solutions such as WordPress, Wix or Shopify have limited functionality when it comes to image optimisation.  This often leads to huge image file sizes, effectively choking the website from being shown to the user.

Key Aspects to Technical SEO

  • Content formatting such as Heading (H1, H2, H3 etc.) tags
  • New additions to HTML5 such as Section and Article tags
  • Structured Markup (Schema)
  • Correct image formats, with file sizes as low as possible without harming quality
  • Correct placement of external code libraries and functions in core files
  • Improving hosting server performance and asset delivery

Technical Search Engine Optimisation is the process of identifying and correcting issues so that your website can run as best as possible.  When that happens, Google and other search engines want to rank it well.

Trust – Off-Site SEO

Search Engines love trust.  Unlike the first two aspects of Search Engine Optimisation, trust is built by other websites linking to you.  In Google’s eyes, it only makes sense for another website to link to your website if it serves a purpose, and trust can be derived from that.  A website that links to you is generally called a backlink, but there is a distinction to be made here.

There are two types of backlinks, and they are not created equal.  We discussed trust in the last paragraph, that can only be earned by a link from a Trust Backlink. A Trust Backlink can be a third-party article, a mention, reference in Wikipedia or even just a list of suppliers (although a page full of links isn’t worth much to you).  Individual trust links themselves are also not created equal.  Every website in Google’s index (their database of websites) is uniquely scored, and the authority they possess weighs heavily on the importance of the trust link.  A highly popular website such as a news website will undoubtedly assist your website more than an unknown one, so the skill is in finding those opportunities.

The other form of backlink is the Citation Backlink.  Citation Backlinks are links housed in directory websites, think Yellow Pages or True Local etc.  These links help Google confirm the validity of your business, so your rank will improve using them, but they offer little in the form of trust in that your website will best suit Google’s searcher.

Search Engine Optimisation Specialists
When working with an SEO Specialist, it’s important to understand what aspects of Search Engine Optimisation they are undertaking.  Actual Marketing tailor our SEO Services to each client individually, working on one or all three of the core areas, depending on their needs, with clear reporting at the end of the month.

With Search Engine Optimisation working with you, your website can become the marketing powerhouse it was built to be.