If you’re in business and have a website, you’d be hard pressed to have avoided the term SEO (or search engine optimisation). However, just because you’ve all heard of it doesn’t mean that you really understand what it means.
Let’s start with a definition of the term:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. So, in essence it’s about increasing visibility in search engine rankings in order to generate traffic to your website.
To be clear, SEO is not about sales (we'll talk about CRO or conversion rate optimisation in another blog) but visibilty and trafffic.
Now, although SEO is classified as a noun it is not actually a definitive article, so rather than being a one-off job or task it would be better called a verb because it is an ongoing journey that a business needs to take; a lot of people believe that ticking all of the SEO boxes means the job's done, but unfortunately that is not the case.
Of prime consideration are the stages of SEO, the building blocks that allow your website to rank in search engines. This blog is not the place where we will go into this in detail, but these are a few of the sort of things that need to be given attention:
Your own website content and its pages, building these to include content rich data that signposts your business
Corroboration of information on third party sites, e.g. directory listings, backlinks, etc.
Creating entries on listings pages, e.g. directories
Using images, videos and social media to reinforce your message
Monitoring and responding to reviews and comments
Ensuring consistency of your details everywhere they are mentioned online
Undertaking keyword research
Utilising ads activity and statistical visitor analysis
These are not one-off tasks – it's not a case of doing them and forgetting them. The internet – rather like the world today – is a fast-moving environment so not only do you need to keep your information and website fresh but you need to keep up with changes that are being made constantly.
There are many things that can affect SEO's efficacy, that require your attention on a regular basis:
Website age – the older your website the more domain authority you have (but also the greater likelihood you’ve not made changes or updates in a while)
Algorithm changes – in order to make sure its results are current and of quality Google (the largest search engine on the internet) regularly rolls out algorithm changes, this can happen as often as 2/3 times per year
Your own strategy and goals – whatever your own strategy or goals these can change your SEO plans, as your focus changes so must your work at driving relevant traffic
Backlinks – unhealthy or spam backlinks (inbound) can negatively affect your SEO, so these should be checked regularly and weeded out to prevent negative impact
Competitors – your competitors are not sitting still, so neither should you
Customer Needs – as your customers ask questions and use your website this can change what you need to do or present to them. This can also change what customers are looking for, so you should change in-line with that demand
The whole process is an evolutionary process that requires patience, meaning SEO will not return quick results – testing, analysis and adaptation is mandatory in order to survive the Google (search engine) jungle and come out with positive results.
Importantly, do not lose heart, if something doesn’t work the first time, make some changes and try again – once you’ve found the formula that works for you, don’t stop there, keep going; review the points above every day/week/month to maintain your rankings and traffic flow.
Please, whatever you do, don't wait until traffic has dropped off and affected sales to make a change, so ensure that you are always on top of your SEO in line with your business, its sales strategy and targets. If you don’t feel this is something you can do yourself – either because of time or expertise – ask an expert. There are plenty of companies out there, but be aware it takes time, money and repeated effort to get it right.