In this guide, we'll be getting to grips with the basics of SEO, what it is and why it's important when building and running your website.
So, what is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of designing, coding and writing content on your site that is designed to encourage search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to find your site and direct the right visitors to it. The main aims of SEO are getting more people to your site, appearing as high as possible in search engine results and writing good content that provides value.
Understanding how search engines work is one of the most important aspects of starting to optimise your site, and it can sometimes get a little overwhelming. The most important thing to understand is that search engines all work on a set of complex algorithms, with some using different variables and factors to determine which results are displayed for any given search. A few examples of these variables are below:
Is your site 'mobile friendly'?
How quickly do your webpages load?
Does your site use secure HTTPS via an SSL certificate or regular HTTP?
What content is on your pages?
How many other reputable sites link to you?
Have you included 'alternative text' and image descriptions for the images on your webpages?
Have you included META keywords and a META description on your pages?
Unfortunately, SEO is much closer to an art than a science and normally requires a lot of trial and error. As you can imagine, finding a happy medium between presenting a site that is easy to navigate and read for your visitors as well as accounting for how search engines view and rank your site can get a little tricky.
Why is SEO important?
All of the variables listed above, as well as hundreds of other factors can influence whether search engines deem your pages as 'relevant' when someone searches the web for a specific term, and in turn how highly they display your page along with the rest of the web. So, if you want your web pages appearing in the correct searches so you can find the right visitors, SEO is seriously important.
Well executed SEO is what drives the right people to your site. For example, if an individual making and selling hand made jewellery was to set up a site and deliberately optimises for a few specific 'keywords' like 'hand made jewellery UK' or 'cheap hand-made jewellery', if this is done well, the site might appear on the first page in Google when someone searches for one of those phrases.
If SEO isn't considered, and you just include information you think is necessary for the visitor, search engines only have that information to go on, so your website is likely to appear further down the rankings. The importance of Google rankings is pretty clear - after all, when was the last time you got to the third or fourth page of Google before you'd found what you were looking for?
SEO can be used throughout almost every aspect of your site, so as you build and maintain your site you should always be looking to improve on your optimisation. The ever-changing nature of search engines and the web mean that SEO is never 'done', check out our other SEO guides for help and tips on optimising your site.