Search engine optimisation, or SEO for short, can seem complicated if you’re a complete beginner. And you have a good reason to feel that way. There are a lot of technicalities to it, and these can change. A lot.
As soon as you’ve gotten the hang of one thing, you may find it’s no longer relevant. Or will get your website in trouble with Google.
While these specifics go in and out of fashion, the principle of SEO hasn’t changed. It’s always been about getting your website a decent ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). To do that, you need web pages that link together easily and content that’s relevant for your readers.
This post is about that principle. We’ll be covering:
- What SEO is, and how it’s like working in a bookshop
- How it can help you boost website visits and lead generation
- Where you can find helpful resources to learn more
We’ll be leaving out the ever-changing technical details. By the time you read about them here, they may have gone out-of-date. Instead, we’ll be helping you to get familiar with the basics.
What is SEO?
Imagine you work in a bookshop. Every day, you have to organise books - and the information inside them - so your customers can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Let’s say a customer wants information about travelling across Europe. They’ll head to the travel section and look in one of the books they find there. If the first book they look at has the information they want, they’ll stick with it. But if it isn’t quite what they’re expecting, they’ll put it back on the shelf and try another one.
SEO works in a similar way. Search engines like Google review lots of sites and organise them based on how relevant the information is to the searcher. The faster they can find what they’re looking for, the happier they’ll be.
If the first website they look on doesn’t have the information they were after, they’ll go back to the search engine results page and try another site.
How SEO Works
The searcher goes to a search engine, most likely Google, and types in what they’re looking for. These are called keywords. It could be a question, a location, a review or anything else. So, if they were looking for a marketing company, they’d type in something like ‘what does a marketing company do?’, ‘marketing companies near me’ or ‘marketing company reviews’.
Google then finds a bunch of web pages to do with their keywords and shows them in order of how relevant they are to the search.
To decide what web pages to show the searcher first, Google will analyse the website in two ways:
- By looking at the navigation
- By looking at content
The navigation is how the pages on your site are linked together. Google likes this to be straightforward, and rewards sites that are easy to explore by making them rank higher.
Content makes up the words, videos, images and other materials that are on your site’s pages. Google checks this out and compares it with your searcher’s intent - the reason they’re searching in the first place. The similar it is to the intent, the higher it appears on search engine results pages.
How SEO Boosts Website Visits and Lead Generation
While the technical aspects can change regularly, Google will always like sites it finds easy to navigate. If it understands what your site is about, and can get around the pages of your site fast, it’ll reward you with a higher ranking on its results pages.
The higher your site ranks, the more visible it is.
The more visible it is, the more likely a searcher will click on it.
Being able to navigate your site easily is one reason Google will rank your site well. The other reason is your content, and how relevant this is to your searcher’s keyword and intent.
Your content should show users the solution to their problem. Or an answer to their question. Or be exactly what they were expecting to find when then typed in that keyword.
Because if it isn’t, they’ll click away from your site and move onto the next one.
But if it is, they’ll stay on your website for longer. Maybe check out a few pages. If it’s exactly what they want it to be, you stand a better chance of them becoming a lead.
So the content on your site needs to match the intent behind their keywords.
Where to Learn About SEO
As we said earlier, the technical rules of SEO have a tendency to change. Sometimes quite rapidly. We didn’t want to write something here that would be irrelevant in a few months.
So that’s why we’ve stuck to the basics of what SEO is. Because despite the changes, it will always be about improving a site’s visibility in search engine results pages.
However, there are places where you can keep up-to-date with those changes.
If you’re up for getting technical, Google’s SEO starter guide is regularly updated with the best practices on how to please its algorithm.
And if you want to know how your site is performing, HubSpot’s Website Grader tool offers you a snapshot of this. Services like SEMrush can show you what keywords you’re currently ranking for, how you compare with your competitors, what your visitor numbers are like, and more.
Boost Your Site’s SEO
While the exact mechanics of SEO are always changing, the principle has and will stay the same. It’s about making your website rank higher in search engine results pages.
To do that, search engines like Google take a look at your site’s technical navigation and content. The easier a site is to navigate, and the more relevant your content is to your searcher’s keywords and intent, the more likely you’ll rank higher.
The higher a site ranks on a search engine results page, the more visible it will be to your prospective customers. Which increases their likelihood of clicking on it. The more relevant your content is to their search keyword and intent, the more likely they are stick on your site and become a lead.
That’s the concept. And there are lots of resources that can show you up-to-the-minute news and the technical details. Plus tool that can help you boost your website’s performance.
Our SEO audit can show you how to improve your SEO credentials. Sign up for an audit today.