What is SEO?

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Author: Sarah Walker

What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’.

It is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of organic (unpaid) traffic to your website from Google (or other search engines), primarily through the use of relevant keywords and phrases.

What’s is organic traffic?

Organic search traffic is specifically any clicks on your website from the search engine results page that you don't have to pay for.

Paid traffic, on the other hand, comes from Google's search advertising tool (Google ads), where advertisers can run adverts for targeted keywords. These adverts work on a pay-per-click basis.

Traffic quality vs. quantity.

Traffic quality: You can attract all the visitors in the world, but if they're there for unrelated reasons - they're not helping you achieve your business goals. For example, if Google shows your site to users looking to buy leather boots when you sell wholesale leather skins, that is not quality traffic. Instead, you want to attract visitors who are genuinely interested in the products that you offer.

Traffic quantity: this becomes valuable to you once you have the right people clicking through from search engine results pages. The more traffic, the better.

How does SEO work?

You may think of a search engine as a website you visit to ask a question, which magically replies with a long list of webpages that could potentially answer your question.

And yes, that is true. But have you ever stopped to consider what factors go into the ranking of websites within these lists?

Here's how it works: Google (or any search engine you're using) has a crawler bot (we imagine little spiders) that go out and crawl the code of every website available on the internet. They gather this information, then brings all those 1s and 0s back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all that data with your query.

[insert design from Dan]

SEO is fundamentally about making sure your website provides information people need. For most businesses, this means providing information that solves problems.

To provide the best service for their users, search engines display pages they consider to be relevant and to have authority, which is measured by analysing the number and quality of links from other web pages.

Search engines will also scan your site to determine how easy it is to navigate and read, rewarding user-friendly websites with higher rankings on the search engine results page.

In simple terms your web pages have the potential to rank in search results so long as people find your content useful, other web pages link to them, and search engines find your content easy to digest.

There are many different elements that factor into search engine algorithms. Here’s how the experts at Moz rank their importance.

7 SEO best practices in 2020.

Our top seven SEO activities for 2020 are:

1. Ensure you have a secure website.
People tend to feel unsafe when interacting with a 'non-secure' site, and they're likely to leave quickly. To ensure yours displays the HTTPS prefix in your URL, check that your SSL certificate is up-to-date.

2. Optimise for voice search. 
How? Easy. Just say 'Hey Siri, how do I optimise for voice search?' People used to search by typing in keywords, now we often search with conversational questions posed to digital assistants. Our content needs to reflect this new trend.

3. Have a functional mobile user experience. 
If you don’t have a functional mobile version of your site, you’re losing out. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices.

Additionally, Google now has mobile-first indexing, meaning Google predominantly uses the mobile version of your website first for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page's content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user's query.

4. Use videos as a source for information. 
6 out of 10 people would rather watch it than read it. Video content is more cost effective than ever to create and incorporate into your SEO toolkit.

5. CTAs CTAs CTAs!!
Calls To Action are often buttons or lines of text that give the user a clearly defined action to progress their user journey or more importantly convert the sale. 'Shop now' - 'Sign Up' and so on. The more people click on these CTAs, the more search engines pay attention.

6. Get good quality content.
Informative and quality articles and videos grow a website's popularity - sales pitches do not.

7. Curate excellent digital experiences. 
Quality content is pointless if the page doesn't load promptly or properly. Once you improve your page speed, look to the user experience. Navigation should also be logical and easy to understand.

What are the best free SEO tools for NZ websites?

The advantages of having good SEO are obvious, who doesn't want to rank higher than their competitors?

Performing higher in search rankings makes it easier for users to find your site, engage with your content, and ultimately buy your product or service. In this respect, there is an enormous financial incentive for companies to optimise their websites,

SEO does not happen alone. Thankfully some handy SEO tools have been created to help you along with the process.

Search Console
Google Search Console is a free web-based SEO tool for tracking both the indexing and crawling stats from Googlebot while also providing metrics to help optimise a website for organic visibility.

This is also the perfect tool to track what search queries users are using to find your site, and identify search phrases to optimise for.

Google Analytics
Your go-to for all website performance analysis. This free Google tool allows you to analyse in-depth detail about the visitors on your website. It provides valuable insights that let you measure the success of your website and advertising ROI, as well as track your video and social networking sites.

This is our favorite tool for keyword research. It helps you to identify and generate the best search terms and phrases your prospect are exploring and suggests other words that can contribute to the construction of your web content.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Not a terrifying Amazon jungle creature, but rather an app that crawls your web content and tells you what's a bit broken, by extracting data & auditing for common SEO issues.

Google Site Speed Test
As the name suggests, it tells how fast your site's pages are loading and identifies the elements that might be slowing it down.

Google Mobile Friendly Test
Again, the name on the tin says what it is. Making sure your mobile experience is top-notch.

This tool allows you to paste in your URL and find out how Google looks at your site from a mobile, user-friendliness perspective.

It measures how easily users can access, read, and navigate the site on mobile devices, with a pass-fail score and suggestions for improvement.

SEM Rush
It's Ubersuggest on 'roids. SEMrush does your keyword research, tracks the keyword strategy used by your competition, runs an SEO audit of your blog, and looks for backlinking opportunities. It's a one-stop-shop for all your SEO needs.

The evolution of SEO.

Algorithms change frequently. SEO tactics need to evolve in response to these changes. That means nothing is stagnant and need to be frequently monitored, maintained and optimised to stay ahead of the competition.

If your brain is curled up, rocking and sobbing in a corner of your skull from all the geeky talk, never fear! Our SEO experts are always at hand to help you with any questions.

At last, go forth and SEO…