What is SEO? Free traffic? A magical marketing tactic that will solve every one of your business problems?

The straightforward answer is that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is a series of analytical, creative and technical tasks that aims to improve your visibility on search engines to get you in front of the right people at the right time. So, in a nutshell, SEO is all about exposure and clicks. Simple enough, right?

But what exactly is SEO?

This is where things get a bit more difficult as SEO is just an umbrella term that covers a range of activities.

Some SEO jobs are traditional, like finding keywords and optimising content. Then other tasks, like ensuring your pages are as high quality as they possibly can be for your desired website users, are still SEO, but more focused on ensuring you have the best possible page which is something that Google wants.

So it is tricky and an analogy I like is from The Matrix. In the film, the protagonist Neo asks the wise guide type character Morpheus: What is the Matrix?

The response here is that nobody can be told what the Matrix is, they have to see it for themselves.

SEO is a bit like this.

Nobody can tell you exactly what SEO is or what needs to be done for your site in an article like this.

There are just too many variables – you have to dig in and determine what type of SEO you need – you have to see it for yourself.

Common factors to consider are:

  • The type of business
  • The location
  • The competition
  • Your website
  • Your content
  • Your brand messaging & logo
  • Your reputation

Even at a high level, there are a lot of moving parts here – and that is before we even look at anything that would traditionally be classed as SEO.

What does Google Want?

Rather than going down the SEO rabbit hole, which can see you spend a lot of time on activities that will likely make very little difference, it is first to best ask another question: what does Google want?

The answer here is relatively simple: Google wants to return the best answer to any given question. To do this they want to organise, categorise and rank order the world’s information (and they go into a little more detail in their mission statement [1]).

There is a whole world of information out there so we won’t go too far down the rabbit hole here as for most businesses, what matters is that Google wants to show the best result to each user.

So, if someone searches for a plumber, then Google will rank order the results based on the factors they believe matter for this specific type of search [2] which are:

  • Relevance – how well suited each business is to this search
  • Distance – how close the business is to the searchers intended location
  • Prominence – how well known and trusted the business is

Key factors here as specified by Google [2] include:

  • Relevant Business Data – update Google-My-Business (GMB) and relevant directories and keep this consistent
  • Verified business locations – ensure you verify all locations in GMB
  • Accurate Hours – keep your information accurate so Google can show relevant information in GMB
  • Manage Reviews & Responses – encourage relevant reviews and respond
  • Photos and business information – provide customers with additional useful information about your business

In this example, for a local business, a lot of this comes down to Google My Business [3] which is the central point for your profile on Google Search.

Other factors are also important such as your website and external listings around the web (citations).

A lot of moving parts.

So, what is SEO? Well… it is complicated

At a high level, SEO is simply making sure that Google understands and trusts your business.

The specifics of this are broadly covered by:

  • Your website & its technical configuration
  • The search terms and keywords you target
  • Links to your website
  • Business listings and brand mentions
  • The content on your website and its pages

But the specifics then depend very much on your situation and objectives.

What parts of SEO matter to you?

The only way to answer this question is to do the research so you understand the search landscape for the kind of phrases you target and then conduct a review of your current situation, typically known as an SEO Audit to identify your SEO strengths and weaknesses.

With this information in hand, you can create a plan that details exactly what SEO means to you and what you should be working on.

The best SEO strategy is…

The best SEO strategy is to be the best choice. That is it. Whatever you need to do to get there, that is the SEO you need to focus on.

Think about your customers. Look at your competition. Make sure you are the absolute best result for the keywords you care about. What that means changes for every keyword and every location so you have to dig in and give it some thought.

But, if you can do this. If you can genuinely stand back knowing that your page is the best possible results for your customers then this changes the game.

Now, you are not trying to manipulate, trick or deceive the search engine. You are not trying to rank above other pages that are better than you. You are now just helping the search engine do it’s job which is to rank the best page at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) . As they say, the cream rises to the top!

Google just wants to show the best results, so, be the best result. You put that work in to make your page the best. Then Google rewards you with improved search visibility.

So, what is SEO?

So what is SEO? Well, SEO is any job that ensures your page is the best possible result for the search terms you are targeting.

This includes many traditional SEO jobs like keyword research and content optimisation. But it should also focus on surfacing your highly valuable knowledge of your subject area to provide the best possible resource for your prospects. Help your prospective customers achieve their goals and SEO just gets so much easier.

This improvement to your site then increases its visibility in the organic (free) results when people search for your products or services. This increased visibility puts you in front of customers at the right time to generate more high-quality traffic to your site. This, in turn, helps you generate more business.

Free SEO Audit

The trick to effective SEO is knowing exactly what to focus on and what will just be a waste of time or money.

If you want to know exactly what areas of your site need improvement then get in touch and we can provide a completely free SEO audit and SEO battle plan – simply drop us a line via our contact page and we will provide a plan showing exactly what you need to do to get results. Note: we can only offer so many free audits so please contact us today so you don’t miss out.

References

  1. How Search Works & Google’s Mission Statement
  2. How to improve Local Rankings by Google My Business Help
  3. Google My Business – Your Business Profile on Google

Glossary

  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
  • GMB – Google My Business
  • SERP – Search Engine Results Page
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