Search engine optimisation is the process of making your website more findable to people using the internet to discover new information. Businesses can use a number of techniques to increase their visibility, either in-house or using a specialist SEO agency.
What is SEO?
Building a website is only half the work; a professional and enticing site is no use if there’s noone actively looking at your site and purchasing your products or services. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing your site’s ability to be discovered by relevant users, as well as increasing the chances of these visitors becoming clients. SEO is a very broad-based term that covers a huge range of activities, all of which aim to achieve these goals. It is an extremely fast-paced industry with new developments – including new techniques – emerging regularly.
Why do we need SEO?
Ranking highly in search engines and therefore attracting relevant traffic delivers tangible benefits to businesses, including an increased variety of visitors and greater lead potential. Because of this, markets are extremely saturated with websites vying to be the most visible and popular on the internet. This makes it harder to achieve success online. SEO is a way for websites to increase their visibility and popularity online and therefore improve their ability to be successful.
Search engines work by sending out little bites of program code called ‘spiders,’ which scour the internet and judge each individual site on a variety of criteria called ranking factors. These spiders rank every site and then build a hierarchical index of the internet. When a user searches for something, the results returned will reflect this index. SEO efforts are aimed at improving a website’s ranking in this index.
The SEO techniques used are directly connected to the factors used by the search engines to judge a site’s worth. For example, Google rewards sites that are heavily linked to by other websites. As such, one popular SEO technique involves increasing the number of links to a site to encourage Google to view it favourably. However, care must be taken to ensure these links come from highly-ranked sites, known as ‘authority sites.’ Links from poorly ranked sites or those known for offering poor functionality will not help your site, and may actually be detrimental. Another SEO technique is ensuring the site’s technical data is optimised, as Google looks more kindly on sites that are compliant with technical standards.
The internet has a host of information on how to get the most out of your optimisation strategies, including what techniques to use, when to use them and how to combine strategies to yield the best result. If you’re not confident conducting SEO personally, you have a number of options. You could contact a creative agency who will be more than happy to advise you, or hire a freelancer with industry experience. Make sure you discuss all the options available before deciding on a course of action, and ask for testimonials and previous results to ensure the company is reliable and effective.