Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the task of optimising your website to make it more appealing to search engines. SEO techniques allow you to improve your search ranking and gain more organic (non-paid) traffic.
SEO first started in the mid-1990s during the emergence of search engines. In the modern digital age, SEO is the underpinning of most of the digital content online. Business and website owners use SEO to give their content more chance of ranking on Google and other popular search engines.
It’s worth noting that search engine optimisation is different to pay-per-click (PPC) to secure more traffic. In theory, you can manage SEO yourself, but without the right experience the results may not match your expectations. That’s why it’s best to work with an SEO professional to bring more traffic to your website and gain more conversions.
In the following guide, we’ll cover the fundamentals of professional SEO and how it can help your business. Furthermore, you can find details on the SEO process and what makes it such a core part of modern digital marketing.
Before diving in, it’s important to understand the core differences between professional SEO and pay-per-click (PPC). SEO practices generate organic traffic that impacts your ranking in search results, while PPC is paid advertising that places your page above search results with an “Ad” icon.
One way of looking at it is this: SEO is effective marketing while PPC is effective advertising. Neither is better than the other, as both can be powerful tools to help you reach readers and customers. In fact, a combination of SEO and PPC gives your website more chance of standing out from the crowd.
If you’re embracing digital marketing, you’ll probably have heard about SEO. You’ve heard the term and how it relates to search engines, and you might even know SEO is hugely important. So, what is it that makes SEO such a vital tool in the digital age?
Think about your own search habits – how often do you head to the second page of search results, or even the third? Google surfaces the information you need on the first page, so you rarely need to go beyond. If a potential customer searches using a keyword related to your field, you’ll want to appear on page one.
If your website doesn’t make the top ten results, your chances of acquiring new customers decreases. As the name suggests, search engine optimisation is a collection of techniques to optimise your website to appeal to search engines.
With excellent SEO, algorithms used by Google and other search providers are more likely to find your website and rank it highly. While doing your own SEO is possible, the skills and knowledge of a professional SEO expert will likely provide you with better results.
Let’s explain the wider topic of how search engines rank websites. This is important to understand because it will inform the decisions you make when working with a professional SEO expert.
While all search engines behave in a similar way, when we discuss web search, the focus is undoubtedly on Google. As the dominant name in search, most SEO is targeting Google. Any traction on other search engines is a bonus. With that in mind, here are the core principles of how search engines work:
- Search engines use crawlers to find a website by following links.
- When crawlers find a site, they search through individual pages and index them.
- Once indexed, search engines can show these pages in the search results.
- The indexed information allows Google to create snippets, which are links to sites with descriptions. These appear on a search engines, or Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
- A special algorithm decides the position in search results.
Google does not disclose the specifics of its algorithm, but the company provides guidelines. By using these best practices, it is possible to influence your SEO output.
There are key areas of SEO you will need to cover if you’re to rank highly on Google searches. However, in SEO a holistic approach works best. You cannot take the individual components and use them separately. Instead, SEO should be a combination of all the following techniques: Content SEO, Technical SEO, and Local SEO. Below we’ll break down each of these aspects of professional SEO.
Content SEO is the contents of your website that potential customers can read. A big part of content SEO is keyword strategy, on-page formatting, copywriting, and page linking.
- Keywords can be complex, so tools like SEMrush and Google AdWords can help you gain insights into keywords, search volumes, ranking difficulty and search intent.
- With your keyword research, you can create a list of words and phrases that are most associated with your site and have regular search traffic.
- Keyword research involves understanding the common search terms that your target audience is using to find topics/products you want to rank on search engines for.
- Google can only rank your website if the algorithm understands it. This means having a solid site structure is essential, with clear hierarchy and internal page links. Google will find it easier to index a well-organized site.
- Your copywriting must serve a clear purpose and be engaging to your audience. However, you must also balance content with SEO practices to appeal to Google. There is a sweet spot between snappy copy and search-friendly copy.
- A good place to start is with copy that is easy to read. Make your content interesting for your target audience.
- Alongside written text on your website, there are meta data in the CMS (Content Management System) that helps Google interpret copy. These are descriptions and content snippets that appeal to search engines and show up in results.
- We use Yoast plugins to make on-page SEO easier. The plugin can evaluate the quality of your text and provide a score to see how well you’ve done. It also highlights improvements that you can make to improve your score.
While most website admins and business owners can get to grips with the basics of content SEO, the technical elements are more complex. Technical SEO involves optimising the infrastructure of your website so search engines can crawl and index it easily. It’s important to know what you are doing with technical SEO, which is why you should use a professional SEO expert.
Technical SEO covers the following components:
- Core Web Vitals: These are performance metrics that Google considers important for the overall usability of a website. This means how good the user experience is and how the site performs, including page transitions and load times.
- Schema markup: Also known as structured data, this is a technical SEO element that gives search engines a better understanding of a website. It shows important site information, such as reviews, products, and contact details. Google can transfer this data into rich snippets in search results.
- XML sitemaps: An essential part of Google’s method for finding URLs. This displays as a text file that shows all URLs on your website.
- Duplicate content: Duplicate copy can happen, but if there is too much repeat content on your site, it will not do well with Google algorithms. This is because search engines have issues managing the data. Furthermore, Google can be uncertain which version to rank or link metrics to.
- Mobile friendly: It’s a mobile world and most users visit websites on a smartphone. Google increasingly has a mobile-first policy and prioritises mobile friendly websites.
- Security: Google tries to list only secure and reputable websites. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification is a google ranking signal, allowing visitors to be reassured their data is safe.
As the name suggests, local SEO involves optimising your website to gain more traffic and leads from local search. Gaining superior results from local SEO is a challenge and involves the following considerations:
- Google My Business: List your business info on Google My Business to help customers locate your organization on Google Maps and Search.
- Link building: Partner with other local business to create links to your website. This can help spread customer awareness in your area. Backlinks are a key component of Google’s SEO criteria and quality links are helpful to your ranking.
- Local directories: If your business has a citation in a local directory, it can boost your SEO. A citation is any online mention of your business name, contact information, or address.
- Google reviews: By encouraging customers to leave a Google review, you can gain an SEO advantage. Reviews appear next to your business profile on Google Maps and Search.
- Social media: There’s no direct link between social media and your SEO ranking, but it can help increase brand exposure and help you generate backlinks.
- Structured data: Use “LocalBusiness” tags in your website code so Google knows your business.
- Contact page: Google can better understand your business and location if you provide a clear contact page.
- Mobile first: As mentioned, Google really loves a mobile-friendly website. At Union 10 Design, we ensure all our sites are responsive and work seamlessly across all devices.
SEO is an evolving concept, and you should have a dynamic strategy to optimising your website. Keyword competition is fierce and the latest content ideas mean you must constantly rethink how you appeal to search engines. Having a clear goal and strategy is essential, while able to track your search results can help you make the best decisions and improve your SEO.
Just remember, it takes time to build a successful web presence and there’s no quick fix to rich SEO. We know it’s daunting, which is why Union 10 Design offer a range of SEO services. Our goal is to make your professional SEO journey as seamless and successful as possible.
- Fully optimised sites
- Schema Mark up
- WordPress Plugins
- SEO training
- Monthly SEO tracking with reports
- Fix problems as they appear
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important investments you can make for your website. If you are not on the front page of Google, many potential customers won’t be able to find your business. While some of the techniques around SEO are simple to understand, becoming an expert in SEO is not easy.
Union 10 Design discovers the keywords your site is currently ranking for and tracks their position. We can also analyse your competitors’ keywords to give insights into new opportunities.
Using Google’s Core Web Vitals, we’ll check to see if your website passes on responsiveness and visual stability, providing an overview of your sites performance and a foundation for recommendations for improvements.