Understanding SEO Basics in 3 Bite-Size Chunks
Anyone new to SEO might hear of the 200+ ranking factors and consider reaching for their revolver. It’s true that SEO is a complex beast in the modern age, and it’s tricky to know where to begin.
However, understanding SEO basics is more than enough to get you started, and with this knowledge in your holster, you’ll be able to tackle the more detailed facets with a beaming smile and growing confidence.
What is SEO?
The letters SEO stand for ‘search engine optimisation’, and the process of SEO management involves optimising a site to make it more visible on search engines, such as Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. Successful SEO means having a high place on search engine results, which appear when a user inputs a word, phrase or query into the likes of Google.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is important given the huge search engine contribution towards how people use the internet. Around 69% of people use search engines to find information online, so the role they play can’t be underestimated.
If a brand has poor visibility on the search engines, it’s much harder for users to find it. If users can’t find it, they can’t buy its products or services, making it difficult for that brand to stay afloat. So much business is conducted online these days that any firm wanting to be successful needs good SEO simply to compete.
Understanding SEO basics in 3 bite-size chunks
SEO experts have identified a myriad of factors that the likes of Google assesses when looking at a site’s value. Given these 200+ factors are closer to a medieval banquet than a bite-size chunk, we won’t be going into great detail on all of those. Instead, we’ve split them into three key areas:
- Technical SEO
- SEO content
- SEO outreach
Technical SEO set-up
‘Technical’ SEO refers to the way a site has been technically set-up. Whizz-kid developers (and some wrinkly, balding ones too) can code sites in a myriad of ways and make them look equally delicious on the eye. However, technical SEO means setting up a site to make it easy for search engine crawlers to find what they’re looking for and rank it accordingly.
If Google’s website crawlers can’t find your content, they can’t analyse and rank its quality, meaning your site fails to appear on the search results. Furthermore, there are structural considerations to be made regarding a site’s navigation, speed and layout. If these aren’t in line with Google’s guidelines, your SEO visibility will suffer.
The importance of SEO content
‘SEO content’ is a part of on-page SEO, or in other words, SEO that’s visible to the naked eye. This is the stuff you can see on a site, so think content, images and videos. Content is a massive ranking factor when it comes to search engines evaluating a site, given that most user searches are an attempt to discover more information.
As a result of this trend, content needs to provide precisely the information that a user is looking for. SEO content specialists will use a variety of online tools to discover the phrases that users are inputting which are relevant to the brand they’re working for. Content will then be based around these phrases.
Furthermore – and brushing past our earlier point regarding tech – let’s not forget that search engines are robots, not people, so they consume content in a different way. Whilst we’d love to imagine Google’s bots leafing through pages of content with a cup of Earl Grey and a fig roll or two, that’s not how it works in practice (yet). All content needs to be structured in a way to make it easy for mere bots to understand. A failure to do this can mean that even the creamiest content gets ranked down, purely because it’s only been designed for human consumption. Find out more with our post on SEO content management.
Last but most definitely not least is SEO outreach, also referred to as ‘off-page’ SEO. In contrast to our previous point, off-page SEO refers to the unseen stuff. Unlike content, it’s not obvious to the naked eye, but it’s of equal importance when it comes to the issue of visibility.
The main ingredient when it comes to SEO outreach is backlinks. And what be these backlinks, you may ask? Well, a link is simply when another website adds a hyperlink on one of their pages that goes directly to your site. They may wish to share a piece of your content as it’s so fabulous, or simply be quoting from one of your articles.
Search engines use links as a major indicator of site-quality. If hundreds of websites are linking to yours, then it suggests your site is an authoritative voice; an expert on its subject. However, it’s important to realise that not all links are equal. Search engines will value links coming from trustworthy and established sites, but will react negatively to tons of links from gutter-trash.
SEO outreach will also include any other PR-related activity that’s geared towards giving a business a greater online presence. Those working in the industry are forever attempting to conjure up unique ideas for content that firstly matches what users are searching for, secondly pleases those pesky bots, and finally makes everyone wants to link to it.
The natural order of things
Once you’ve got your head around understanding SEO basics, the process is a little like building a house. Although you don’t need to be skilled with bricks or nifty with a blowtorch. However, what the two processes have in common is a set building order, and a failure to follow this will mean the whole house falls down.
A site’s technical set-up is like a building’s foundations. It needs to be strong and built correctly, so the walls don’t collapse. Next up, the content you create needs to be based on data – what are people searching for, and how do Google’s bots read pages these days? If you’ve skipped the tech part, your content will fail, no matter how well it’s written.
Finally, once you’ve got your foundations and walls in place, you can do the fancy stuff – windows, doors, a roof, even a shiny new knocker. This is the outreach gig, and for this to succeed, you need strong walls i.e. content. No one will ever link to you if you’ve got nothing worthwhile to say.
Ready to start the next chapter of your SEO journey? Try our article on 5 essential concepts of SEO and keep those synapses quivering.
Managed SEO campaigns
Once you’ve got your head around understanding SEO basics, the world is your veritable oyster. If you’d like to further your own knowledge through direct training or utilise our team of professionals to manage your SEO campaign in a clear and transparent way, contact us today and see the difference we can make!