What Is It?
You've probably come across the term SEO before, and you probably know what it stands for, but for those who don't, search engine optimisation. Now what does that mean exactly? At its most basic level, it means optimising, or developing, a website to display in the search results of a search engine like Google or Bing. That is to say, without applying even basic search engine optimisation, it's unikely your site will show in search results. Why?
SEO - It's all about relevance
Without relevance, we're just wasting our time. Let's use Google as the example, but this is true for all search engines.
Because of the ubiquity of Google in our lives, we often can think about in terms of a utility, or even a gateway to the internet itself. When it comes down to it, Google is a business, and search is a product. And what I mean by that is, if the product was no good, who would use it?
Now what does it mean for Google to be good? It means that when you type something into Google, you want to find what you're looking for? And for the most part, that's exactly what happens. Imagine what would take place if we never found what wanted to? We'd never use Google. That is to say, Google's business is built around it providing relevant results to people using its service. Make sense?
So it's in Google interest to display what it thinks will be the best results for its users, so they keep coming back, forming habits, and so they see ads. Ads is how they make money by the way.
How Does SEO Work?
So we know they want to give relevant results? How do they determine what is relevant and what isn't?
This is where things get a little bit complicated, but there's likely hundreds of variables and parameters that they look at which determines how any one page will rank. And there's probably hundreds we don't even know about which they'll bring into mix. Google have a great little list here for those interested.
There's titles, and metadata, optimisation of images, and alt tags, mobile friendly tests, and security, links are in there too. What does all this mean? We'll look at a few parameters in more detail, but the shortcut answer? Whatever we end up doing, it needs to help people find what they're looking for fast, on a mobile, tablet or otherwise, and it needs to make sense.
Here's a few key features we should always look at.
1. Search Keywords?
For a long time people used to jam their site full of keywords, in the hope that a word would trigger a result, and people would find them. Google has realised this often leads people to poor quality and irrelevant sites. You guessed it, they don't want to this to take place, and have got a lot smarter and stopping people doing this. You're now even punished for it, see you later rankings!
So what do we do? We want to make sure that whatever words we use across our site and pages, are relevant to what both our site and our pages feature. We're in the digital marketing and design space, it would be really weird if all of a sudden we started jamming our site full of words related to yoga. People would think they would find things about yoga, and they'd be really disappointed.
So our content needs to align with what people are searching for. That means our H1 Headings, Title, Meta Data and the rest, all needs to be line up with what's our page. Google weights these factors to say to users, this content is on this page. I.E.
In the example here, we see that if someone searched 'web design mornington peninsula', from seeing what I've given to my page to show Google, there's a good chance that someone will click on this result, because it's relevant to what they're looking for.
So? Only use words that are relevant to what you actually do. Don't stuff your page with words to get traffic.
2. Bounce Rate?
The old bounce rate. It's not how many times you can jump on a trampoline in a minute, but when someone click onto your page, how likely are they that they will 'jump' back off again?
As an example, you do a little search for some new socks. You find a site you think looks great, and you click through, then what happens, there's no socks, only ties. You jump straight back off and continue on with what you're looking for.
Then someone else search socks, goes to the same site, and while it shows ties, (a bit of an exaggerated example), this person is also looking for a tie, and continues to browse the site.
The difference between people who leave, and people who go to a different page on your site, is the bounce rate. Got it?
But what does this mean for search engine optimisation? Remember relevance? Bounce rate is an indication to Google on the relevance of the page. High bounce rate? Your page isn't relevant to what they we're searching for. This can indicate two things, there's a misalignment between your keywords, and what people are actually looking for.
Perhaps fine-tuning this can help.
Or people don't like the impression they get when they land on your page. This is where copy, design, and photography is so important. They should all be working to bring people in, giving them the right message, and building positive impressions.
3. Mobile Friendly?
I raise this point as something of a combination between our keywords, and our bounce rate. Who uses their phone to search for things? Buy things? Consume things? We do!
Now it's likely an obvious question to ask, but how mobile friendly is your site? Given we spend so much time on our phones, most sites are weighted equally between mobile traffic and desktop visitors, with the former consistently on the rise with no signs of slowing down.
What does this mean for SEO? Well, it means your site needs to provide users what they're looking for in a quick, easy and relevant way on their phones. In other words, your mobile site needs to be as good, if not better than your desktop experience. Not just your desktop site on your mobile, but a full optimised mobile site that services your users really well.
This is so important that Google are down-ranking sites that don't have mobile versions... You're site needs to be mobile friendly just to survive, think that over half of your traffic could be on a phone, you'd want it to look good!
You're right. There's so much more. You want to find out? Google has a more detailed piece here for the nerds like us. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates. It can be a little bit of black hole!
A lot of digital marketing tactics are moving directly toward paid acquisition. In other words, when you stop paying, you stop getting results. SEO is passive in comparison. While it still requires work, it doesn't require your credit card to be attached to every purchase. There's definitely a place for paid advertising, we recommend it, but it's not to be used exclusive of a wholistic digital marketing strategy that includes long term SEO strategies.
Oh, did I mention it's long term? It will continue to work away, 24/7, 365 days a year without you really having to do anything. How amazing is that?
If you're wanting to learn more about search engine optimisation, or hire onetoo to help you out, we'd love to chat. Jump on our contact page and give us a holla.