An in-depth guide to answer the following: What exactly is SEO?

An in-depth guide to answer the following: What exactly is SEO?

July 9, 2024

Written by: Ryan Walsh

Date: 09/07/2024

Let’s dive straight into what SEO is.

SEO is simply an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s simply a description of a process of helping businesses move up Google’s ranks. This process is completed slowly but surely and most definitely doesn’t generate results overnight.

 

So, what does the “Organic” part of SEO mean?

SEO is simply the process of moving a business up the organic section, that is, the non-paid results on Google. So, the results on page one can broadly be split into three ways: non-paid, so that’s organic; paid, so that’s Google Adwords and Map listings.
The map listings or the Google Business results are free, so you don’t need to pay to advertise your business there. Yet, as you would imagine, everyone and their dog wants to get their business onto the first page in the free section (Organic and Google Business)—so it’s hard work to get any business onto page one.

 

Is SEO even important?

For some businesses, it’s so important that it could make or break them

“Hey Google”

Please find me a local independent coffee shop

Hey, Google, can you find me a kitchen installer

A lot of us use Google on a daily basis, so it’s crucial that whatever type of business you run is placed as high up in the SERPs as possible. A business that is not on page one of Google can guarantee that some of its direct competitors are. Because they are easy to find on Google, they could be simply taking customers that could be yours.

So, is SEO still important? Well, any business that doesn’t agree doesn’t understand the significant impact a good SEO agency can have on a business. If search engine optimisation is done right, it can be transformative.

The search engines like Google are marvels of modern engineering.

 

How do the search engines like Google, work?

 

Search index

Simply like a giant colossal memory bank of businesses and their web pages. This is often also called Google’s Knowledge Vault, or sometimes just the index for short. So, if Google thinks a page or entire company website is good, it will place your business in its index.

Search algorithms and search queries.

So, is Google’s algorithm complicated?

It’s mind-bogglingly complicated. Have you watched James Bond’s Skyfall? It’s a brilliant film, highly recommended. Well, they’re trying to break a highly complicated mathematical formula, and it’s pictured on screen as something complex, something well-engineered, sophisticated—well, Google’s algorithm is this on steroids.

It’s a mind-boggling complex, and it should be respected.

Now, you might be thinking, what do we mean by respect?
Many businesses, including SEO companies, think they can outsmart Google’s algorithms; try to outfox it, if you will. Our advice on this?

Just don’t.

Don’t even try; built into the algorithm are complex filters, such as “spam filters”- Google Penguin, Google Panda, and the Google Helpful Content update, to name just a few. So, Google can smell spam or a person trying to fool its algorithms from 10 feet away.

What does happen is like being hit by a hard blow from Joe Calzaghe, a company’s website that gets hit with a blow, a Google algorithm penalty. You don’t want this; a Google algorithmic penalty can come anytime when you flout Google’s rules. The result is a website that vanishes into thin air, off the search engine results pages, and sometimes, even the best SEO consultants in the world can’t get it back on the first page for love or money.

So, if you will invest in search engine optimisation, do it right, invest in quality, and take your time.

 

How does Google’s algorithm work

Other than Google’s engineers, no one really knows. Otherwise, with an hour and a cup of sweet tea in hand, they would have the website ranking on page one of Google in minutes.

But, there are some things we can be sure of in terms of how Google’s algorithms work, and that is:

 

Crawling

Googlebot doesn’t stop. It’s like a bot with too much Red Bull; it just can’t stop moving.
Googlebot follows links, both internal and external. It crawls these to work through each page’s code, scanning it like a photocopier in your office.

However, Googlebots’ job is to crawl the code, the “source code.” It wants to read the text, read the on-page SEO elements, and scan for how good the information is. Then, using mathematical formulas, it computes how good that page is.
A.I. is later used to determine how visitors are using the page, but let’s keep it simple here to explain how Google’s algorithms work.

Googlebot crawls and doesn’t stop crawling; depending on how important Google deems the website, it will crawl it more often, looking for changes.

For example, Googlebot will crawl the BBC News page perhaps every hour. However, if someone blogs occasionally about interior design, Googlebot will consider that website less important and allocate less “crawl budget” to it. Googlebot may only crawl the interior design magazine once a month.

 

Indexing

Just like a magpie sees something new, something shiny, and takes it back to its nest, Googlebot does the same. But here, it’s not a bit of bacon foil we are talking about. It could be a mammoth effort by an SEO company to get a business onto the first page of Google by writing a colossal 10,000-word article.

Once Googlebot has crawled that, it will “index” it, deciding where to place it in the index, how important it is, and where it should rank.

 

Ranking

Have you ever gotten your business to the number one spot on Google, go to bed feeling rather happy with your efforts, and then the following day, it dropped four places?

This is called “ranking flux.” Well, after crawling and indexing, Google uses its computational number crunching combined with A. I have determined where that business should be ranked in Google’s results. This is where Google ranks that page, comparing it to its “ranking factors,” assigning a weight to each, and then placing it in the SERPs.

 

Google’s oh-so-secret sauce

Suppose you cook a dish that’s so tasty that your restaurant is busy with diners every day of the week. In that case, you’re not going to publish the ingredients, secret recipe, and cooking techniques to the world (well, not unless you want new competitors the following week).

So, Google doesn’t release or tell anyone outside of Google how its algorithms work; it’s kept very much on a need-to-know basis.
Yet, as seasoned SEO consultants and our companies have been trading for over ten years, we are well placed to make some educated assumptions about some of the factors Google uses to determine where a business should rank in the SERPs.

 

Backlinks.

Despite various SEO blog posts saying the same thing every year, links are still alive. Matt Cutts, a famous Google employee, suggested that links would get less critical in the future, but they haven’t just yet. Ask our business what separates businesses at the lofty top of Google in pole position from businesses not getting any clicks on page 2. Well, it’s often due to links.
Relevance (search intent).

If you want to buy nice-smelling perfume, you don’t want to be shown dog shampoo. It’s not related; it’s a totally different product. So, Google is fine-tuned (Google Hummingbird Update) to offer exact answers to queries.

So, it’s an SEO consultant’s job to best optimise the on-page SEO and help Google understand what that page is selling. We are talking about optimising meta titles, descriptions, alt text, content marketing, and much more.

 

Freshness.

Old information is like mouldy bread; it puts you off, and you look for something else to eat. Well, shoppers are the same; if the information you offer is style, old, or out-of-date, the shopper will leave, causing the bounce rate to increase.
HTTPS (site security).

It would be best to make your website more secure; HTTP is one of these methods.

 

Mobile-friendliness.

Your website has to be mobile-friendly, but that’s the absolute minimum; instead, the mobile version has to be improved to offer a good “user experience”. It has to be fine-tuned through user testing, then split testing to gradually improve the design to improve conversions and lower bounce rates.

 

Page speed.

Getting stuck behind fast cars can be frustrating, yet the autobahn in Germany—well, you can get where you want faster on nice, smooth roads. Now, think of this when designing your company website: Do you want it to be sluggish, slow, and frustrating, like when you’re stuck behind a slow car, or do you want it to feel like a super fast luxury car moving down the German motorway?
If you want to improve your business SEO, go for the latter.

 

Carry out keyword research

You might conclude that “I don’t need to do keyword research; we sell ladders, so just optimise it for that.”
Big mistake
Don’t say that…. Take it back

The reason we say that is simple: Global brands invest hundreds of hours looking at which keywords they should optimise their websites for. This may change; a new trend may come along, for example, a new style of footwear, so the SEO agency can’t be on the back foot—pardon the pun—they must optimise the website for as many keywords as possible.

 

This means carrying out keyword research.

Use quality SEO tools. We are massive fans of Moz Pro, which gives you valuable insight into how to improve your company’s search engine optimisation and which keywords you should optimise your website for.

 

Search intent attracts buyers with no time wasters.

A prestige car dealership knows that if it advertises a test drive day, many people who have no intention of buying a 3.0 twin turbo, double clutch, ceramic brake car will walk through the doors and say, “Go on, mate. I will take it for a spin.”

The garage has a worn-out car, less petrol in the tank, and no new orders.

Yet, a car dealer knows that if it e-mails or calls previous loyal customers about a new model, their interest will be peaked. So much so that it’s out with the old and in with the new, and new cars start leaving the showroom promptly.

You might think we are going off on a tangent here, but the point we are trying to make is this: attract shoppers to your website who have “search intent”—people who want to buy. If someone is on Google at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, asking Google “flat-pack kitchens with fast delivery times,” this means they are ready to part with their hard-earned dough. Their search intent shows that they are likely to buy because they want fast delivery.

So, if we were to provide one nugget of advice from our respected SEO agency, our top tip would be to optimise your website for keywords that show the buyer wants to buy.

 

Quality is key

Rushing any part of the SEO process can damage your SEO. Quality is key; it doesn’t come cheap, yet this is what separates businesses on page one from those on page seven of Google.

 

Content is king

Have you ever heard the expression “quality is king”? Well, when it comes to content marketing, quality is crucial. Google uses its algorithms, Google RankBrain and Google E-EAT, to determine whether a piece of content marketing is good.

Whether you are selling washing machines or exercise equipment online, businesses have had multiple years to improve their SEO. They will have been improving and refining their content marketing.

So, yes, often, there’s much catching up to do.
Content marketing worthy of ranking on page one must be of superb quality; the bar is now set very high, so it must have the following qualities:

– Google E-EAT
– So, this means written by an expert on the matter
– Often needs many quality links
– Must be original
– Though provoking, so that you know what you’re talking about and can walk the walk, not just talk.
– High word count

 

E-E-A-T signals (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).

Before you put your hands on your keyword, sip that espresso to write a blog post or piece of content marketing; take this advice from Ryan Walsh, an SEO consultant with ten years of experience: consider Google E-EAT. Let that be the overarching framework when writing and creating content marketing for your business.

 

So, what is Google E-EAT? Well, let us elaborate:

 

Experience

Get someone with real-world experience of what you’re talking about to write the article or at least have some input. It doesn’t matter if it’s about flat pack kitchens, luxury boats, or running trainers with a new sole; ask the expert.
Google’s algorithms know if an expert writes a piece of work or whether the person is trying to hit the 1,000-word count and is merely writing a waffle.

So, get someone with real-world experience to help write the article.

 

Expertise

This is directly linked to experience, yet to be an expert, you must have honed your skills over many years. So whether the person in your company who’s the expert on your product goes by the name of Bob or perhaps Sally, these experts need to have their intricate knowledge of your service or products respected. Therefore, their knowledge and expertise should be reflected in the work they write.

Authoritativeness

If you’re good at what you do, you will attract attention. Offline, people will recommend you to family and friends because you offer a superior product or service. Online, they mention you, leave business reviews, and link to you. It’s the do-follow links from respected sources, such as the BBC. Well, this improves a business’s authoritativeness so much that you can move up Google’s ranks, and sometimes quickly when a household name links to your website.

Trustworthiness

Positive reviews, people citing your work, and links to your website—if the links are from good-quality businesses—will improve your company’s trustworthiness.

 

FAQ
How much does SEO cost?

SEO prices differ massively, yet promising, excellent SEO consultants are rare. People enter this career and then move out; someone with two years of experience optimising websites often doesn’t know how the algorithms work.

Good SEO consultants, on the other hand, are like fine watchmakers; they will have studied the intricate movement of how

Google’s algorithms work. Using their domains, that’s, websites, they will have tried and tested methods over hundreds of hours; that’s, in our opinion, what makes a good SEO consultant.

The large SEO agencies often have one or two. Yet, if your SEO project is deemed less of a priority, the highly experienced SEO consultants may spend just a few hours, if that, overseeing things a month.

That’s why you must find a good agency with good SEO consultants and spend time searching for the right company.
Is SEO a fast process

No, it’s most definitely not. It takes, on average, six months or longer to get a local business onto page one of Google. For national SEO, it takes even longer. So it’s a slow process—very slow. But is it worth it? Well, the skill set of an SEO company can sometimes make or break that business. That’s why you have to choose a company wisely and don’t rush your decision-making process.

 

Why does it take so long to get a business onto page one of Google?

There are over 200 ranking factors, and your competitors will have spent years improving theirs. They are busy bees, improving their backlinks, on-page SEO, and website U.X every month; this means the website will be like a high-performance sports car.

So, have we got to catch up, you bet?

Are you good?

Are we good?

We are reasonable, and we are so good. We work with well-known, leading, prestigious brands. All work is overseen by Ryan Walsh, a well-known Cardiff SEO consultant with over ten years of experience.

Come to the best; contact us today.

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