One of the first questions we receive from clients during a discovery session or project briefing is “how do I get to the top of Google”. Of course, a higher ranking in search engine results increases a company’s visibility online and provides more opportunity to convert visitors into customers. One of the most important ways to reach the top of a search engine results page is through effective search engine optimisation.
People rely on search engines to find exactly what they are looking for in almost every aspect of their daily lives. In general, most people will not look past the first page of search results and instead adjust their keyword search terms to refine their search.
Although search engines like Google don’t share their search volume data it is estimated that Google processes about 63 000 search queries every second. The average person completes between three and four searches every day.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of organically increasing your website ranking in search engine page results. Effective search engine optimisation is one of the best ways to increase visitor traffic to your website. Keep in mind that this relates to organic ranking and not a paid search listing which would be generated through a Google Ad.
Websites that are served at the top of the first page of results contain the highest quality relevant content that matches a searchers query. To search engines like Google and Bing, this query is seen as a series of keywords. Search engines use a few factors to determine and rank a website, this includes but is not limited to:
- Website design
- Website page load speed
- Website mobile responsiveness
- Website experience
- Unique and quality content
Search engines “crawl” (or read) the content available on a website periodically and evaluate the quality of the content including the list of factors above. Let’s explore two of the most important factors:
Content is critical for SEO to be effective. Keywords and phrases in your website content that closely match a search query from a potential visitor will ensure your website ranks higher in search engine page results. A website that is well optimised for search engines structures content including headings, leading paragraphs and general content to “attract the attention” of search engines.
Keywords let search engines understand what your website is about, ensuring that it will be served to someone actively searching for what you offer/sell/promote.
A backlink is simply a link that refers visitor traffic from one website back to another website. The more backlinks your website has, from other high ranking websites, the more search engines will “trust” your website. In general, websites that are referred to often by other websites rank higher in search results.
The SEO Overview
Keywords and backlinks correspond with the two main types of search engine optimisation, on-site SEO and off-site SEO. On-Site SEO deals with elements on your own website including website content, keywords, image optimisation as well as title and meta tags.
Off-site SEO involves activities that drive awareness and referral traffic from other websites back to your website. This includes link building, advertising, social media, a comprehensive Google My Business listing, reviews, public listings and content marketing like guest blogging.
There are also factors that search engines take into account that are not visible to website owners and searchers and can affect crawling and indexing. These factors are “under-the-hood”. Technical search engine optimisation includes a process of optimising the design, user experience, page load speed, mobile responsiveness, sitemaps and structured data.
In closing, effective SEO needs to address a number of factors at the same time and although the same factors apply to every website, every business and brand is unique. This makes SEO a fundamental creative and technical process requiring expertise over the long term.