What Do I Need to Know About ‘SEO’?
So you want to know what SEO means, it stands for Search Engine Optimization. These days, you can find pretty much anything you want on Google. Billions of people use search engines for shopping, news, education, socializing, hobbies and much more. Naturally, certain terms are more popular than others, and with so many web users searching on Google, the platform has become a goldmine of potential.
‘Search Engine Optimization’, or ‘SEO’, is the art of making it so a website can rank more highly on Google search results. There are a number of reasons you might want to do this: a business owner would want their website to be more visible than the competition, while writers for certain topics might want to get more well known in their niche, and so on.
Whatever the reason, SEO has become a hugely important marketing discipline over the last several years. This is largely the result of the ‘Digital Age’; most businesses now need an online presence to stay competitive, and smart devices like phones or tablets have made it easier than ever for people to access the internet.
More importantly, however, Google has become a lot smarter over time. Its algorithm is updated constantly, and there are a number of important rules to follow if you want to rise in the rankings. It takes a clear understanding of modern SEO in order to make a website rank as highly as possible.
For example, your website could suffer if:
- It has several pages on the same topic (this is known as ‘cannibalization’)
- Its text is not optimized for specific keywords (i.e. the terms that you want to rank highly on Google for)
- There are no other websites linking to it
- It does not provide users with what they want or what you promise
Websites can fall even further in the rankings if they try to engage in ‘black hat SEO’. This refers to tactics used to fool Google into boosting a website’s rankings. Removing these loopholes is one of Google’s biggest priorities when updating its algorithm, and so attempting black hat SEO tactics will often be detrimental in the long run.
So, what does SEO involve? One of the first jobs of an SEO manager is to make sure that a website is covering all the right keywords. Every website has a purpose, and this purpose will have a number of associated phrases. The less specific a topic is, the more keywords will be linked to it.
For example, an interior decorating company might want to rank for phrases like ‘wallpapering’ or ‘painting’. Short and general keywords like this are known as ‘short tail keywords’. Because they are so unspecific, they will usually have higher search volumes. This, in turn, will mean that more websites will be competing for them, which will make ranking harder.
Longer, more specific phrases are known as ‘long tail keywords’. Going back to our example, the decorating business might also want to rank for interior decorating services in its local area. In this case, they might write content targeted at ‘interior decorator west London Acton’. Because the keyword is more niche, there will be fewer people searching for it, which should make ranking easier.
The key is to make sure that a website is ‘optimized’ for all of its chosen keywords. This will mean maximizing the value of your website’s text, functions, health and overall design, leaving users with plenty of reasons to keep coming back.