What is Search Engine Optimisation?

What is search engine optimisation

SEO is an abbreviation for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process of increasing your website’s visibility on search engines by using techniques that improve the probability of your website page showing on the first page of a search engine. The main objective of SEO is to improve the organic ranking of a website and to convince search engines that the website content is the best answer for a given users search term. The better a search engine gets at delivering relevant content to its users, the more likely those users will continue to use its services.

Imagine if your favourite search engine stopped serving you relevant pages? Would you switch? Search engines are constantly competing by updating their search algorithms to get better at supplying the most relevant results to their user’s. It’s SEO that helps drive these improvements by employing practices that enhance the overall quality of a website. It helps search engines by giving them indicators that allow them to correctly index the content for a better end-user experience. Abuse these practices and search engines will penalise your website. Similarly, if you master these practices, search engines will reward your website.

In conclusion, the better your visibility in search results, the more likely you are to attract potential clients to your products and services. A good SEO strategy is critical for improving the quantity and quality of web traffic to your website.

What is a search engine results page (SERP)?

SERP is an abbreviation for search engine results page. It’s the page that displays after you type your search query into a search engine. The results page contains listings of website pages that match the search query you entered.

What are organic search results and why is this important for SEO?

We need to first highlight that a search engine results page (SERP) contains both paid (pay-per-click) and unpaid (organic) search results.

Organic search results are the unpaid results that display on a SERP after a user has entered a search query. The search engine has determined that these results are the most relevant for a user’s search query. You cannot pay to rank higher in organic search results. You need to implement legitimate SEO practices if you would like to improve your organic ranking.

Organic search engine optimisation is the process of enhancing your site so that it is visible on search engines "un-paid" (organic) search results. The higher the ranking (the closer you are to the first page on a given Google search), the more frequently your website will appear in search results. By appearing more often in results, your website will receive more organic (free) visits.

A search engines job is to ensure that when a user types in a search term (keyword) that it serves the most relevant content to its user. The more relevant the content, the more often the user will use the services provided by the search engine. In order for a search engine to accomplish this goal, it scans your content to validate how relevant the content is to the search keywords entered by its user.

Therefore the more relevant your organic optimisations (website content improvements) are to the search keywords of a search engines user base, the more organic (free) visits you will attract to your site.

What are paid search results?

Unlike organic search results, paid search results (pay-per-click or PPC) are generated by a search engine based on the number of advertisers and bids competing for a given search term. These results display at the top of the SERP.

How do search engines work?

Search engines like Google use software applications (bots) to search for pages on the world wide web. They gather information from web pages and sort both the page and information into an index which can be retrieved later when users need to perform searches. You can think of the index like the index in a large encyclopaedia where you can look up topics of interest.

After the indexing process, search engines scan and detect ranking indicators across numerous websites to determine which website pages should appear in the search results for a given set of keywords.

Why is quality organic traffic so important?

High-quality organic traffic is where a user’s search query is matched to the content that exists on a website. If your website is attracting visitors who were searching for the information that your website has to offer, this traffic can be considered high-quality organic traffic. On the other hand, if your website attracts the wrong visitors, for example, if your website page is meant to explain tree bark but attracts visitors researching dogs that bark, your website will attract low-quality organic traffic. This will result in low conversions with many visitors leaving your website as they did not find the information they were looking for. SEO tries to capitalize on the search engines algorithms by helping them match a user’s search term with the website, and thus aids in bringing high-quality organic traffic to your website.

Why is the quantity of organic traffic vital to my website?

When you rank at the top of a search engines result page, you will receive more traffic to your website than if you ranked on the second page. This increase in organic traffic means that more visitors will see your website and there is a greater chance that your products and services are purchased. It’s important to rank as high as you can as this will increase the quantity of organic traffic reaching your website.

Examples of search engine optimisation techniques

Search engine optimisation is a journey and can take several months before you begin to see results. We have listed some optimisation techniques below but if you would like to read our full article on SEO ideas, please read click here

  1. 1
    Create backlinks to your website. Backlinks (links from other websites to yours) are another method used by a search engine to determine the relevance of your website to its user base. This is one of the most important methods of increasing traffic to your website. Read more
  2. 2
    Place advertisements on "free" or "paid for" online business directories. There are many free business directories on the internet where you can place advertisements. You can also pay for advertisement space on a "paid for" business directory.
  3. 3
    Create a high-quality website that is rich in text content and relevant to your target market. This method is not guaranteed and can take weeks before you see results. If you do however manage to get on the first result page of Google, you will receive free visits to your website which can improve your sales. This process can take weeks & months to achieve if your market is competitive (other competing websites) and requires constant work such as adding new articles & blogs to your website.
  4. 4
    Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to create social awareness about the products and services that you offer on your website. When creating content on these platforms, it is advisable to create backlinks to your website when posting a blog or tweet - This will improve your organic SEO and bring traffic to your website.
  5. 5
    Register your business on "Google My business" and add your physical address (which will need to be verified by Google) - This can improve your local (country/area) search results. E.g. When someone searches for a product or service near them, Google will serve your Google My business page to them. E.g. When "Water supplier in Randburg"

Factors that impact organic search engine ranking

Your organic results are influenced by the following factors:

  • The quality of the content on your website - Well written text content that is relevant to your products and services is important.
  • The volume of content on your site - Generally content-rich websites (more text content) are favoured over sites with little content.
  • The quality of your web page URLs. For example www.mywebsite.com/water-sanitiser-products.html - This is an example of a good URL. A bad URL would be: www.mywebsite.com/products.html - This URL is not very descriptive.
  • Images with descriptions - Web pages that contain images should contain descriptions.
  • Meta description - This is a description that is also hidden in the html code of a web page - Search engines can locate this description. Our search engine optimisation tool allows you to easily configure this using an editor.
  • Back links - These are links to your web site from other web sites. This indicates to search engines that your site is more relevant to its users in that people are linking to and talking about your web site.

Each page on a website is scored individually and the sum of all page scores will affect your organic ranking. This effectively means that a search engine ranks each individual page, then adds the scores across all your website pages, then gives you an overall website score. The better your score, the closer you will be to the first result page on the search engine.

Do not try to optimise your organic ranking if you have not done keyword research to understand what people are searching for on the internet. The Google keyword planner is highly recommended for this purpose. It shows historic search data for keywords and can also determine new keywords so you can enhance the keyword combinations that you can use in your written content.

Why is organic search engine optimisation not guaranteed to bring results?

There are many other websites making similar optimisations to try and get on the first page of a search engine so the competition is high. You are simply at a disadvantage if you don't make any optimisations. Small tweaks in your text content can make a big difference. Sometimes it's difficult to know exactly why you are getting a higher or lower ranking.

About the author Jason

"I care about creating great websites that not only look good, but also serve a purpose"

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