Welcome to the first lesson in my SEO for Beginners mini-course. To make sure we're all on the same page, let's start with the question What is Search Engine Optimisation? Try asking that in the pub one night, or at your next business club meeting. You'll be amazed how many different answers you get.
So, what is search engine optimisation?
SEO is a marketing function. It's a method to market the products and services you offer through your website to your best possible advantage. And you do this by following a number of tasks as illustrated in this graphic.
Before you do anything else, do keyword research! It tells you what your customers are looking for. It tells you what your competitors are up to. And it gives you the ammunition to tell Google exactly what your business is about.
This is where you put your keyword research to good use. Now that you know what your customers are looking for - and the exact words and phrases they use to do so - you can create content that is designed to attract the right customers to your business. High-quality, keyword-rich content pre-sells your business effortlessly and keeps search engines happy at the same time, by making it easy for them to match search queries to your content.
Not commonly seen as an SEO task, I think good web design has an impact on a website's performance. SEO-friendly designs - clean layouts, easy accessibility, clear navigation and structured paths both through the site and each page -will satisfy the search engine's needs, help with visitor retention and improve conversion rates.
This is what most people think about when asked what search engine optimisation is: titles, meta tags, headers, alt tags. And yes, it's an important part of what makes SEO so effective. Website optimisation ensures that Google, Bing & co. can read each page of your business site just as easily as your customers.
Each website has three types of links: inbound, outbound and internal. And while inbound links get the most press coverage and attention from SEO practitioners, all three types of links are important to create a well-trafficked website.
Social media marketing has developed into a very industry of its own, but it's most effective if it's run as part of an SEO campaign. That way you'll make sure that your message - from keywords and design on down - is consistent across platforms. Which is why, I include it here.
And there it is, my short guide on what is search engine optimisation. It should not have taken you longer than a coffee break to read it... but hopefully it will keep you thinking longer.
SEO should not be looked at as the icing on the cake. It's more like flour - it must be in the mix right from the beginning to work best. Neither is it something that's ever finished. After all, you never stop marketing your business, do you?