What SEO is and why you should care

Published: Friday, May 6th, 2016

What is SEO?

You’ve heard of search engine optimisation (SEO) but what is it and why should you care? SEO is the continuous effort to rank on page one of search engines and improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. Getting your business to page one on Google is critical and here’s why. Google is by far the most popular search engine and page one gets 90% of online traffic. This is where your potential customers are, so you can see why page one is crucial for driving sales. Here we break down some of the SEO activities that matter when trying to improve your page rank and increase traffic to your website.

Technical stuff matters

Technical stuff, or technical SEO to give it its proper name, matters a lot because poorly developed websites negatively impact SEO for a variety of reasons. One common problem is slow page loading times, which we’ve all experienced so you know how frustrating it can be. Research has shown that pages that load too slowly hurts SEO and puts consumers off which in turn can hurt sales. Another common problem is the ‘readability’ of your website. It’s crucial that Google is able to crawl and analyse your website so it can decide where to display you in the search engine results pages (SERP). Poorly developed webpages may not show up on search results at all and that will hurt your sales as well as page rank. It’s also worth noting that more people than ever are accessing the internet with mobile devices, so websites need to be mobile in order to rank well in mobile search results.

Words matter

When people enter a search query Google returns a list of websites it considers to be relevant to your keyword search phrase. Therefore, keyword research is a vital part of SEO strategy in order to understand the language your customers use when they search for your type of products and services. There are keyword tools to help you research your audience but also listen to your customers – how do they describe your products and services? What common phrases do they use? Understanding their language will give you a better idea of the words you need to focus on in your SEO strategy.

Page titles matter

Don’t make it difficult for search engines to analyse your web pages. When deciding page titles try to make them relevant to your customer’s search intent. It’s vital you keep the searcher in mind so Google can match your web page to someone interested in your particular type of product or service. A strong page title, accompanied by a relevant description, is your opportunity to attract them to your website.

Quality content matters

Content is king’ is an old SEO phrase but rest assured it’s still relevant. It simply means giving consumers high value information that they are searching for. They want to be educated and informed. So deliver valuable content to them that they will appreciate. Consistently delivering quality content that people trust and return to again and again is one way that Google judges your website authority.

Search Engine Optimisation - SEO Galway

Links matter

Google evaluates websites by analysing the activity on your web pages but also evaluates the websites that link to yours. The links that appear on your web pages are internal links (on-page) and the websites that link to yours are external links (off-page). Both have a powerful effect on your page rank. Sounds complex but it’s not. Think of internal links as sign posts on a web page that guide customers to other pages where they can access more information, or send them directly to your payment page and convert them into sales. Internal links, when used correctly, are an excellent way to improve user experience. This encourages more repeat visits which acts as another signal to Google that your website is trustworthy and trustworthy websites rank higher in SERPs. By the same token, Google loves websites that other respected websites link to because of its content. Having other trusted sources, or external links, linking to your content acts as a vote of confidence in your website and provides a real SEO boost. Some businesses go one step further and develop whole off-page SEO link building strategies designed to boost quality traffic to their website, though this requires experience and a big commitment to get it right.

Social media matters

Increasing the number of visitors to your website is another way to improve SEO as Google takes into account the volume and quality of traffic to your website. There are various channels to help businesses drive website traffic. Social media channels for one but also online advertising platforms like Google Ads and email marketing campaigns can all drive quality traffic to your website. But as always there is a cost involved in these activities, particularly the time cost and that needs to be factored into any SEO strategy.

Landing pages matter

A landing page is an entry point to your website. Great landing pages will always help the visitor decide what to do next. An obvious example would be your homepage that guides visitors to other key pages on your website, but landing pages can also motivate visitors to take a specific action on a web page like filling in a form to access a special offer. Great landing pages also make good use of call-to-action buttons that entice people to explore more pages on your website which helps reduce ‘bounce rate.’ Bounce rate refers to visitors abandoning your website after viewing just one page. A consistently high bounce rate may indicate that there is an issue with your landing pages that needs to be addressed. The best way to reduce bounce rate is to produce top quality landing pages that deliver a great user experience, drive real engagement and satisfy technical SEO requirements.

Time matters

In our experience a reasonable expectation for SEO results is a 3 to 6 months’ time-frame. However, nobody’s position on any search engine is guaranteed. Ranking should be viewed as temporary because Google is constantly evolving and updating its search rules and requirements. Maintaining page rank requires an ongoing commitment to best SEO practices. Ultimately SEO is about increasing sales conversions. Your level of success will largely depend on the level of expertise of your web development team.

Beware of negative SEO

Negative SEO is the practice of using unscrupulous or ‘black hat’ tactics to lower a competitor’s ranking. Some examples would be hacking your website, creating hundreds of spam links pointing to your website or duplicating your web page content and using it across the net. It’s important that your web developers are aware of the various threats that could compromise your website security and that they understand the web tools available to address negative SEO issues. Securing your website and protecting your content and customer data matters because your reputation is at stake.

Key Takeaways.

SEO is about getting your business to rank on page 1 of search engines and increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. It involves a range of activities including technical SEO, keyword research, content development, link building and off-page SEO. Expect to wait 3 to 6 months for your SEO efforts to bear fruit. SEO is always evolving, so it’s a good idea to partner with professional web designers and digital marketers who stay up to speed with best SEO practices.

And finally…

If you want to develop a comprehensive SEO strategy for your business, but don’t know where to begin, then contact Digitaledge, the web design and digital marketing agency based in Galway. We’ll work with you to identify more SEO opportunities to drive your online sales.