^ see what I did there?
Search engines (so basically Google)
When you want to search for something on the web what is your first port of call?
For over 80% of us that question is rhetorical, it’s Google, of course, and for the other 20-ish% it’s some combination of Yahoo!, Bing and I genuinely don’t know what else.
As Sen (2005) explains, regardless of which one you use, we are all using one (a search engine that is)! How else would you navigate the web to find Rosie’s Batchie Recaps? Or Grumpy Cat Memes? Or, well, basically anything you don’t have the exact address for.
Google likes pie and is greedy.
Major commercial search engines like Google are responsible for driving the majority of web traffic, and not just any traffic, targeted traffic. That is, people who are already searching for what you have on offer. For this reason search engines reign supreme! But, if they can’t find you or you are ranked so far down their pages that no one is ever going to then you are in a spot of bother.
Here is where search engine optimisation comes in …
Search engine optimisation
The Begginer’s Guide to SEO defines Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as “a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results” – it is about making yourself seen in search engine results and everything that comes with and contributes to that, such as:
- Improving your page’s ranking – That is moving your website further up the results list because we know that over 90% of people won’t click past the first search engine results page and over 60% of consumers will only consider the top 3 results.
- Driving traffic to your site – Getting more interested and targeted consumers to your site (these are the ones you want)
- Increasing awareness
The motivation behind search engine optimisation is explained well in this video:
In the end it is all about making yourself seen to the consumer but to do this you need your content to be seen and valued by the search engine.
All big search engines like Google rank their organic search results based on what they consider to be most relevant to their consumers. It is in their best interest to do this so that consumers have a good experience and keep coming back for more.
So how do they do this? Well, by naturally (or organically) altering what results come up based on what people are actually doing on the web.
How do search engines find and rate webpages?
Search engines locate and rate pages in 2 ways: Through keywords and backlinks
- Key words – Key words allow the search engine to see and find your site, as well as know what it is about.
- Back-links refer to how many other sites have cited your website and enable the search engine to trust your website as relevant.
- Think of back-links like references. The better academic references are usually the ones that people cite more often. Citing these articles then is a measure of their reliability and credibility in terms of the information they present.
- Google looks at your site in the same way. If more people have cited you, then chances are your website is legit.
Given there are 2 ways that search engines locate and rate pages, it stands to reason that there are also 2 corresponding ways in which search engines can be optimised:
On site component
For the onsite component it is important that your website has relevant keywords so it easily comes up when searched for. For example if selling leather boots you might have key words like: leather, shoes, boots, ankle boots, black boots, blue boots etc. These keywords should make your site easily findable both by the search engine and consumers. They should be broad enough to ensure your sight is found but relevant enough that the consumer actually get’s what they are looking for, otherwise your page is going to drift right down the bottom of the search results page and no one wins.
Off site component
For the off site component you may generate backlinks to strengthen the relevance of your website through using articles, social media, blog posts etc. The more legitimate the website is that links back to your site the more effect that back link is going to have on your search result ranking.
Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of why search engine optimisation is needed and how it works. I’ll leave you with some more ideas on how to optimise the way search engines and consumers see you on the web, and would love to hear your ideas on the best ways you found for a business to undergo search engine optimisation 🙂