When you look up a topic on a search engine, the results you receive are no random assortment of links. What you see on the front page is the result of a complex process of compiling information from all across the world wide web, a task which search engines are expertly built for. The staggering amount of information in the global datasphere would fill the halls of millions of libraries. There are approximately 4.5 billion internet users, and nearly any answer to any query is at their fingertips.
For a business, this means that there is always someone out there searching for the products or services you are supplying. Finding those people means developing an understanding of the methods search engines use, and how to maneuver them to work to your advantage. The practice of doing this is called SEO, and it is a vital tool for any business or organisation that wants to maximise the benefits of their digital presence.
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. The fundamental goal of SEO is to improve the performance of your web content on search engine platforms. In order to do this, SEO uses a system of methods that encourages discovery through organic search results. This means your pages naturally appear in response to relevant searches.
This process increases both the quantity of clicks, but also the quality, as optimising content in this way aims to receive engagement from users that would find your content most interesting. The strategy is often comprehensive and long term, as measurability and repeatability are what make it most effective and profitable over time.
It is thought that SEO techniques were born in response to the advent of early search engines in the nineties. With these emerging technologies came people wanting to crack exactly how they could be used. One of the earliest examples of a targeted SEO strategy was, believe it or not, the band Jefferson Starship. In 1997, the manager of the American rock band was incensed by the fact that their official website had only reached the fourth page of the most used search engine at the time, when searching for the band name. He set out to change that by tasking his web team to manipulate the algorithm, and it really worked. The website rocketed up to the first result.
The term SEO was coined shortly after, and this effort by Jefferson Starship is credited as one of the major events that lead to the creation of the method.
So, in a way, you are reading this guide all thanks to the power of rock and roll!
All about search engines
To understand how SEO works, you have to understand how search engines work.
So without further ado, let’s get into the mechanisms of the world’s biggest online information resource.
We can’t talk about search engines without talking about the king of them all: Google.
Of course, there are numerous other search engines you can utilise, but focusing on Google is a good bet, as it is estimated that 90 percent of all searches are conducted through them.
As a search engine, Google has become so synonymous with looking for things online that it’s developed a new usage, as a verb.
Need to remember a celebrity’s name? Google it. Need to find a coffee shop in your area? Google it. The platform is so ubiquitous that it has become inextricably integrated into our vocabulary around the subject of seeking out information. This is due, in large part, to the fact that Google’s algorithm is by far the most sophisticated.
The original algorithm that Google used, called “BackRub” was revolutionary in the industry. The basic goal of the technology was to determine and compile different factors of a website and use that data to rank them accordingly. This was in the pursuit of providing the best, most relevant search results possible. With the algorithm established, Google exploded in popularity and became the tech giant that it is today.
The algorithm that Google uses today is called PageRank.
There are no definitive set of rules to how PageRank works, so the information we have comes from outside data.
The algorithm is what drives the platform, and while it may seem simple from the perspective of a Google user, it’s very consciously built to be that way. The algorithm wants the searching process to be as intuitive as possible; guessing your intent when you search something, or even what you meant to say if there is a typo in your search.
We’ve all been there while researching something: you type in your question, you find the answer, which brings up another search term you want more information on. You then search for that term, and so on and so forth. It sometimes feels as if it is guiding you down a path of discovery that is more in-tune with your queries than even you are!
But how does the algorithm find out the relevance of pages?
Well first, Google uses a process called crawling. Crawling is one of the main ways that Google finds new pages to add to their index. An army of bots, sometimes known as spiders, make their way through the internet in search of links on websites they already have filed. As they discover these links, they follow the pathways and catalogue all the pages for later use. This is crucial, because if the spiders can’t find you they can’t store you in the system, and no one can find you on Google.
These links that appear on websites that are not your own are referred to as backlinks. Having many links on other sites not only lets Google know you exist, but also gives you more “votes” towards credibility, thus increasing your overall ranking.
Quantity is, however, not the only thing that makes a backlink beneficial. The quality of the link also matters greatly. If a highly ranked page like BBC for example, linked your page in an article, Google would generally identify your page as a higher quality resource.
We’ll go into a little more detail later on some ways of building backlinks into your page for better results.
A couple ways you may be hindering the crawling process are as follows:
-Not using or improperly using internal links, (which are links that lead to other pages within your website.)
Using duplicated content
Failing to perform regular maintenance on your site, which leads to overlooking URL errors or “robots.txt” blocks.
Slow server speed
All of these issues and more can lead to inhibited crawling on your site. It is important to seek the advice of an SEO specialist like us here at Digital Jumpsuit to ensure you are making the most out of your strategy.
What are ranking factors?
Once the Google Algorithm has crawled your website and filed the pages away in their index, the next step is to rank them.
Ranking factors are the set of criteria that search engines use to determine how certain pages appear in search results. There are many ranking factors of varying levels of importance, but they all come together to give a search engine a picture of what your page is all about. It’s important to remember that google does not rank entire web pages, it ranks singular web pages. Every page on your website needs to be optimised in order to reap the benefits of SEO.
While ranking factors are an essential concept to understand when it comes to SEO, the exact level of effectiveness for each one is not clear cut.
However, due to the research we do have, we know that the following are some of the most essential ones:
Keywords and search intent
Keywords are words and phrases that help people discover your website through corresponding searches. You can use them in your content to direct people to your site who are searching for what you have to offer.
Search intent is an important factor in using keywords effectively, however. Thinking critically about the meaning behind searches is what helps you narrow down intent and make sure you are using the keywords that are relevant to match them.
If someone is searching for “coffee” for example, and you want to only use that keyword in a blog post about making coffee, you may want to get a little more specific. Maybe that person searching “coffee” is intending to buy coffee, not to learn how to make it. In that case, they wont click on your link.
Using the more niche phrase “How to make great coffee” or “coffee making tips” is what will actually give you the traffic you want.
Pagespeed and mobile friendliness
These two are fairly self explanatory. Google wants to provide its users with relevant content and an enjoyable experience. If a web page loads too slow, it can be frustrating and lead to your content not doing as well.
Google also prioritises pages that work correctly on mobile devices, as 63% of their searches are made on things like cell phones or tablets.
Relevant, well written content
Once someone finds your website, you want to give them a good reason to keep reading and hopefully become a loyal customer. This can be achieved more readily through the presence of quality content on your site, which improves the engagement of viewers as a whole.
It’s useful to keep in mind the acronym known as EAT, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. As we’ve mentioned, Google wants to give searchers the best results possible, which means the ones that are well written and well researched.
If you went to the internet in search of advice on how to care for your pet hamster, you wouldn’t want to read an article written by someone who has never seen a hamster in their life and is just cranking out poorly written content to take advantage of the benefits of SEO. Minimal effort put towards the actual quality of your content will hinder you.
Another thing to keep in mind is format. Word count can contribute to the success of an article, as well as how it actually looks on the page. Large blocks of uninterrupted text can overwhelm a reader and make it difficult to skim.
If you’re unsure about your writing abilities, contact us at Digital Jumpsuit. We have a team of skilled copywriters at the ready to help you with all your copywriting needs!
As we mentioned above, backlinks are an important ranking factor. Depending on the “authority” of the website you are linked within, they can help Google learn that you are a reputable source of information and boost your standing on the results page.
There are many different tactics to creating backlinks on pages. One overarching aspect to practice is reaching out to websites in your field. Backlinks are links on pages that are not your own, so it makes sense that nearly every strategy will involve outreach.
In one example, maybe a relevant page has a link that leads to nowhere. You may want to create content to fit the subject of that broken link, or utilise some content you already have, and step in to offer your link in place of that one.
In another scenario, you may find a website that exists within your circle and want to reach out to them to get your content in front of them for consideration. You might even ask if you can create a piece for their page. A blog or an article written by your business, gives them the chance to receive fresh content for their website, while also giving you the opportunity to be seen by their audience.
It’s also important to link internally within your page. If one piece of content is doing well, finding a way to naturally link back to other content on your website can build the network you need to help your ranking. Overall, try not to put links where they have no business being. Remember that Google is always looking for relevant content, so forcing something to fit where it doesn’t is generally not a good strategy.
Building links can be difficult if you make it so, but if you put in the effort you might be surprised with how great the results are.
Why is SEO important?
You may be wondering, why would SEO be beneficial for my business? As opposed to paid ads, for example, what is the point of using SEO over other approaches?
Firstly, we know generally that ranking high on search engines is incredibly important for website traffic. The 1st result on Google gets 28.5% of all clicks. In terms of selling products or services, it is estimated that 88% of consumers begin their purchasing process with a web search. Regardless of if they are going to make that purchase online or in person, the statistics indicate that there is almost always a pre-research stage carried out using search engines.
The internet has rapidly shifted spending habits in this way, and it only makes sense. Nowadays with the plethora of choice and information at a customer’s disposal, they are going to the internet to inform themselves. When you consider these facts, it’s clear how vital it actually can be to have a strong presence on search engine rankings.
Even more than actual rankings though, the process of SEO tends to result in a better overall experience for customers, as your content is more thoroughly aimed at being relevant to its target audience. A big part of SEO is identifying how your content fits into relevant search term subjects, and therefore focuses on who you are trying to communicate your message to. This helps to better integrate brand identity into your website and hone into your niche more seamlessly.
Paid ads versus SEO
As we’ve discussed, SEO is all about organic search results. Appearing, seemingly without trying, on the top of the Google page implies to users that there is a reason you are there. And there is, of course! Implementing a great SEO strategy has knock on effects on the health of your whole business. However, there are different ways of appearing on the top of the page.
Paid ads are an example, in which you pay a fee to Google in exchange for your link to emerge in response to a particular search term. You may have seen these kinds of results, as they are disclosed as ads and appear slightly differently visually than the organically generated results beneath.
This is not to say that paid ads are an unhelpful strategy. It is always a positive to get more eyes on your website, and paying for ads by no means equates to automatically poor quality results. This is just to point out that SEO has some unique upsides. Paid ads have some benefits of their own though, including the ability to be laser targeted. Many people opt to use a mix of both strategies to optimise their performance.
Other benefits of SEO is that the process is associated with more long-term traffic flow to your website and is generally more cost effective. While it takes time, energy, and support, to develop an SEO strategy that works for you, once you have established one it is more sustainable. If you are paying for an ad and you stop, that ad disappears. You haven’t necessarily built the foundation of organic audience engagement that will continue the momentum of that ad.
Even if you are paying an experienced agency to run your SEO, (which we do recommend,) your return on investment long term may be many more times than what you could accomplish from paid ads alone.
Why hire an SEO agency?
Now that we’ve delved into the nitty gritty of SEO, it’s important to discuss why exactly hiring an agency like us here at Digital Jumpsuit to manage your SEO is the best choice. While informational guides such as these are helpful for educating yourself on the process, a professional SEO expert will be able to apply these concepts most effectively to your business. Here are some reasons why you should choose an agency like us rather than attempt a DIY project.
If you are looking for a way to increase traffic on your website through SEO, it stands to reason that your current strategy hasn’t worked as well as you wanted. There might be some gaps in tactics that a fresh pair of professional eyes could better identify and rectify. A professional strategy is key when it comes to SEO. Cobbling together a piecemeal set of concepts and then implementing them sloppily will not be worth the time and energy. In order to create a cohesive, all encompassing plan that will really work, it’s greatly beneficial to have an expert at the table.
Experience in the industry
An agency has experience in multiple different fields, which can help them identify what’s right for you. They have knowledge on what works and what doesn’t, as well as how to interpret the result of a campaign and make changes to improve it.
There is a steep learning curve when it comes to SEO, and instead of having to devote yourself to learning all there is to know about it, you can lean on the wealth of experience an agency already has at its disposal.
Time commitment and cost
Time is money as they say, and that is certainly true when it comes to SEO. Implementing all of the above tactics and strategies takes away valuable time and energy from the day to day operations of your business. Juggling what you’ve already got going on with managing an SEO plan that actually benefits you for the time you put in, would be draining at best and impossible at worst.
Hiring an agency would also likely improve your return on investment. Having a professional at your disposal means you get a more effective result, and you’re not wasting money on tools you don’t know how to use properly. The cost of running a strategy yourself may be much less cost effective, especially if mistakes are made due to lack of knowledge.
Keeping up with the technology and tools
Technology is constantly changing, and doing so at a rapid rate. An agency is armed with not only the tools you need to accomplish your SEO goals, but the ability to identify when technology shifts and adapt accordingly. Google, for example, is constantly updating and making slight tweaks to it’s algorithm. If you’re not in the know, you might be left behind and all of your work would be for naught.
The cost of mistakes
The improper use of keywords, cloaking, or artificial link building are some common mistakes ametuer SEO optimisers make. These things may seem like good ideas, but they can actually have a negative effect on how well your page does. In the worst cases, they can even label your content as spam. Identifying and fixing issues like these that may be hurting more than helping you, are what agencies are trained to do.
At the end of the day, SEO is all about consistent implementation and high quality strategy.
Are you interested in learning more from our team of experts? Do you want to discuss the future success of YOUR SEO strategy? Please contact for an informal chat to discuss your SEO needs.