SEO is the process of optimising your website and online content so search engines recognise your brand or website and display you at the top of their search results for specific keywords. Search engines ‘crawl’ the internet for responses to user queries, and display them on their search engine results page (SERP) to best answer the user query.
Sounds simple right, but the complex algorithms it takes to display your website or content on SERPs needs to be understood - if it's to be optimised.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO is the way you attract traffic to your brand online through non-paid or organic search engine results.
But it’s not only about search engines, it’s about people. Understanding keywords - see below - and other aspects of SEO will not only increase the quantity of exposure to your brand, it will also improve the quality of traffic or people that find you - as you will be exactly what they are looking for.
There are many SEO experts out there, but learning even a little bit can help you to tweak your website and socials to make your site more search engine friendly and improve your ranking. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the fundamental aspects such as:
Search Engines & SERPs
Search engines like Google, Bing and YaHoo (among many others) crawl billions of web pages using web crawlers. Crawlers are essentially code sent across the cyber universe to look for specific data, or answers to the users query, from every website across the world.
The crawlers download web pages and then follow links to discover new pages. These pages are then displayed on the Search Engine Report Page (SERP) in response to the users' keyword search.
Search engines customise the search experience for users taking in factors beyond the actual search terms, with more recent search algorithms focusing on the user, and includes data such as user location, browser history, user behaviour and social settings.
SERPs can include organic and paid ad results, as well as Featured Snippets, Knowledge Graphs and video results. We’ve got more on SERPS in our dedicated article.
Google SERP Image for ‘Sydney harbour bridge’.
When search engines crawl, they can't ‘see’ images so it’s important that your image file names and image descriptions (alt-text) are well, descriptive. These text descriptions are used within HTML code and should include not only the appearance of the image, but what the use or function of the image on your page is for.
You may hear alt text referred to as alt description, alt attribute or alt tag; don’t be confused as these are all the same thing. It’s even a good idea to apply this naming principle to all images on your site including icons and buttons.
Alt text also has the important function of making your website accessible to everyone. Screen readers can read the alt text for a visually impaired user, making for a better understanding for the user. Alt-text is also displayed when for any reason the image cannot load into a web-browser.
Keywords are words and phrases or terms that you should include in your online content so that search engines can find your website. SEO is impossible without them.
When your content is built and optimised around those keywords, you will rank higher in search engine results, and that’s the point of SEO right? Well kind of, yes being on the first page of a SERP is great for business, but are you attracting the right customers to your business with those keywords and that search? You want to find and include the most effective keywords and phrases that convert best for your leads and/or goals.
Knowing who your customers are and what they are searching for starts with a little keyword research. It’s a big subject, that we address in another blog, but your research should include:
The most critical thing is to build a list of targeted keywords, as opposed to randomly chosen words inserted into copy and code. Once those high-impact keywords and phrases have been identified, they need to be strategically implemented into your site to effectively attract both search engines and real customers. See our Keyword Research blog.
So now we know that search engines crawl to find those keywords, let’s have a look at how they decide what (indexing) and how (ranking) to display the search results on the page.
Indexing: Indexing is how the spider or crawler gathers and processes or files the data from pages and sites it discovers. Essentially, indexing is the way they organise that information. Your web pages need to be indexed, so they can be displayed on SERPs. To check your index, go to Google search and type in site:yourdomain.com.
Ranking: Using algorithms, SERPS display search results from most relevant to least relevant on their pages; this is ranking. We all aim to be in the top positions on the first page of a SERP, but adapting to constant ‘quality’ improvements by search engines can be challenging.
These days search engines, particularly Google, are more concerned with the overall user experience on your site and the intention of the user.
The need for fundamental knowledge on basic SEO principles is critical if you have a website for any reason, even if you are employing ‘experts’ to handle your strategy and process.
We have a series or cluster of blogs on the subject, that we update and expand on regularly.
If you have any questions, or are perhaps looking for an ‘expert’ to help you, please call us on 1300 633 086 or message us here.