What is SEO - Search Engine Optimization?
SEOor 'search engine optimisation', is the art of improving your website to increase its visibility in search engines such as Google and Microsoft Bing. Think of it this way: when someone searches for products you sell, services you offer or topics on which you have deep knowledge, you want your website to be among the first ones they see. The higher up your site ranks in the search results, the more likely you are to be clicked on. And ultimately, SEO is about drawing in visitors who become loyal customers, clients or repeat readers.
Read on to learn more about the following:
- The differences between SEO, SEM and PPC
- Why SEO is so crucial to your online presence
- Different types of SEO and its specialities
- How SEO actually works
- Best ways to learn and master SEO
How does SEO differ from SEM and PPC?
When diving into the world of digital marketing, you will often come across the terms SEM and PPC. These terms, along with SEO, form the basis of how businesses reach their online customers. But what do they really mean, and how do they relate to each other?
SEO versus SEM
SEM, or search engine marketing, is an umbrella term that includes both SEO and PPC. While SEO focuses on driving organic traffic from search engines, SEM is about combining both organic and paid traffic. So when we talk about the difference between SEO and SEM, it's important to understand that SEO is actually part of SEM.
But here it gets a little tricky. Many people today use SEM as a synonym for PPC, which can diminish the importance of SEO. But both SEO and PPC are marketing methods. Think of SEM as a coin: SEO is one side, while PPC is the other.
SEO versus PPC
PPC, or 'pay-per-click', is a marketing method where advertisers pay every time someone clicks on their advert. Advertisers bid on specific keywords or phrases, and when someone searches for those keywords, the advertiser's advert appears among the top results.
SEO and PPC are complementary and should both be used for optimal effect, within your budget of course.
Why is SEO important?
SEO isn't just a marketing channel; it's incredibly important for today's digital presence. It's worth noting that more than half of all website traffic comes from organic search - meaning that SEO is a real heavyweight when it comes to digital success.
When people want to explore, learn, buy or just satisfy their curiosity, their journey often starts with a search. But the way people search has changed. In addition to traditional search engines like Google and Bing, users now also search on social platforms like YouTube and TikTok, as well as retailer websites like Amazon. Interestingly, a majority of US online consumers start their product search on Amazon rather than Google.
With trillions of searches each year, search traffic is often the primary source of website visits. This emphasises the importance of being 'search engine friendly' on all platforms where your brand or business can be searched.
But it doesn't stop there. Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, are extremely competitive. They are packed with various features, from knowledge panels to videos and news articles. And in the middle of all this, there are paid adverts, making the battle for visibility even tougher.
One of the main advantages of SEO is its sustainability. Unlike paid campaigns, which end when the budget runs out, the positive effects of SEO continue to yield returns over time. And while social media traffic can be unreliable, SEO remains a stable and reliable source of visitors.
Ultimately, SEO is the basis for a holistic approach to marketing. It's about understanding your users' needs and translating that insight into everything you do: from campaigns to web content and social media. A well-known brand or company is often seen as authoritative and trustworthy, which is exactly what search engines want to reward.
Types of SEO
Technical SEO is about fine-tuning the technical aspects of a website to improve its performance and searchability. A well-structured website that is easy for search engines to crawl and index is essential. It involves optimising URL structures, internal linking, user experience and much more. Technical SEO also includes ensuring a fast page load, mobile-friendliness and the use of structured data to improve the site's presentation in search results.
The focus here is on the content of your website. On-page SEO is about creating high-quality and relevant content that appeals to both people and search engines. This means including relevant keywords, creating unique and original content, and ensuring that the content is free of grammatical errors. In addition, the content should be up-to-date, contain multimedia elements and be better than competitors' content. For search engines, it is important not to forget to optimise title tags, meta descriptions and alt texts on images.
Off-page SEO is about building your brand's authority outside of your own website. Link building is a key part of this, with the aim of getting quality links from relevant and trustworthy websites. Other techniques include branding, PR, content marketing and social media. While not all of these techniques have a direct impact on your ranking, they play a crucial role in your brand's visibility and authority.
How does SEO work?
If you found this page via a Google search, chances are you searched for something related to SEO. But how does SEO work in general? Let's break it down:
Understanding the functioning of search engines
To appear in search results, you need to understand how search engines work. This includes processes such as crawling, rendering, indexing and ranking. Each platform, be it Google, YouTube or Amazon, has its own unique factors that affect how content is ranked.
Research is at the heart of SEO. It involves understanding your target audience, identifying relevant keywords, analysing the competition and much more. By understanding your brand's unique value and how it fits into the market, you can create an effective SEO strategy.
With all the collected research in hand, it's time to create a long-term SEO strategy. This includes setting goals, defining KPIs, coordinating with stakeholders, and much more. Think of your SEO strategy as a map that guides you towards success.
Create and implement
With a plan in place, it's time to act. This could mean creating new content, updating existing content, or removing outdated content. Each step should be in line with your overall SEO strategy.
Monitor and maintain
SEO is not a one-time effort. You need to constantly monitor your website to detect any problems or changes that could affect your ranking.
Analyse and report
By measuring and analysing the results of your SEO work, you will gain a better and better understanding of how SEO works. This can be done using tools such as Google Analytics or other specialised SEO tools. By regularly reviewing your website, you can adjust your strategy and continue to improve.
SEO is an ongoing process. Search engines, user behaviour and competitors are constantly changing. Therefore, you need to constantly adapt and improve your SEO strategy.
How to learn SEO
Understanding the basics of SEO is just the beginning. To truly master the art and science of search engine optimisation, you need to constantly update your knowledge and skills.
Stay up to date
Search engine algorithms and user behaviour are constantly changing. By regularly reading, watching or listening to the latest news and research in SEO, you can stay one step ahead. With technological advances, such as the rise of ChatGPT and generative AI, it's more important than ever to be well informed.
Google's SEO resources
Google offers a wealth of resources for those who want to learn more about SEO:
Ahref's SEO resources
Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools used to analyse websites and their search engine optimisation. Ahrefs also provides some resources for those who want to learn more about SEO:
- SEO guide: A comprehensive and very good guide for beginners in SEO.
Theory is important, but practical experience is even more important. By building your own websites and experimenting with different tactics, you can see what works and what doesn't work. This gives you a deeper understanding of the complexities of SEO.
While there are many reliable sources out there, you will inevitably come across outdated or incorrect information. It is important to be critical of sources and to compare information with other sources.
Search engine optimisation: a constant journey
There is no 'magic formula' for search engine optimisation. It requires hard work, dedication and a willingness to constantly learn and adapt. But not everyone has the time to learn something as comprehensive as SEO. That's why at Webbzone we offer expertise in the field. Whether you need to improve your SEO or create a new one. website, we can offer solutions that fit your company's needs.
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Frequently asked questions about SEO
What is SEO?
SEO stands for 'search engine optimisation' and is the process of optimising a website to improve its visibility in the organic search results of search engines. The goal of SEO is to increase traffic to a website by ranking higher in search results for relevant keywords and phrases.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO is about fine-tuning the technical aspects of a website to improve its performance and searchability. It includes optimising URL structures, internal linking, user experience, page loading, mobile-friendliness and the use of structured data.
What is On-page SEO?
On-page SEO focuses on the content of your website. It involves creating high-quality and relevant content that appeals to both people and search engines. This includes including relevant keywords, creating unique content, optimising title tags, meta descriptions and alt texts on images.
What is Off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is about building your brand's authority outside of your own website. This includes link building, branding, PR, content marketing and social media.
How much does SEO cost?
The cost of SEO can vary depending on the needs of the website and the competition for keywords. In general, SEO costs can range from £3,000 to over £10,000 per month.
How does SEO work in general?
To appear in search results, you need to understand how search engines work, including processes such as crawling, rendering, indexing and ranking. It also requires research to understand your target audience, identify relevant keywords and analyse the competition.
Why is it important to constantly update your SEO skills?
Search engine algorithms and user behaviour are constantly changing. With technological advances, such as the emergence of ChatGPT and generative AI, it is more important than ever to be well informed.
Why should you be critical of the source of SEO information?
While there are many reliable sources, you may come across outdated or inaccurate information. It is important to compare information with other sources