Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – is an important part of any website and something you should be actively thinking about. SEO helps your customers and users find your site and can help you build a greater audience.
But what is SEO, why does it matter and how do you go about improving it? This blog will focus on introducing you to the topic, explaining exactly how search engines work and preparing you for the next steps of working on your SEO.
Over the next few weeks we'll be posting additional blog posts in order to give you a deeper insight into the topic. We’ll also focus on how changing browsing habits have effected SEO, and look at different tools you can use to measure your success.
What is SEO?
In the simplest terms, SEO is concerned with enhancing and developing your website in order to attract more visitors through search engine results.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to optimising your site, but aspects such as your page layout, content and even the way other sites link to yours all have an impact.
Why is it important?
Often the majority of traffic to a website can be generated via search engines, therefore spending some time optimising your content and pages properly should have a positive impact on your appearance.
Building your content to intelligently target search engines will help your website appear higher on searches and, hopefully, attract more visitors.
How do search engines work?
Search engines are constantly improving the way they index sites and more and more they look for natural, relevant content that they consider will be useful for people searching. Stuffing keywords into your site can even have a negative effect on how you rank!
To use a simple metaphor, think of each website like a building and the internet as a city. Each building has its own contents and unique address. If you have the address, finding the building becomes much easier. But what happens if you don’t have an address and you need to find the building among 60 trillion other buildings in the city?
Search engines make the task of finding the right one much easier. The first step they employ is to use web crawlers to discover content by following links from one site to another. Pages are then sorted based on their content and other factors. An index of all content is created to narrow future searches down based on keywords.
Even with an index of pages – or buildings – it would still be difficult to find the one you need. Instead, search engines use algorithms to understand what you’re searching for. These include various methods such as alternate spellings, synonyms, the device you're searching on and many, many more. Results are then ranked using over 200 factors in order to provide the most relevant results. Oh, and just like the internet, these factors are constantly changing.
Search engines need some help
Search engines are smart and every day they are being tweaked and improved. Even so, it is not yet possible for search engines to simply crawl a site and understand all of the content automatically. By providing clues within your site's content for search engines, you increase your site’s chances of success. Search engines mimic human behaviour when sifting through content and simply throwing information at them is not enough.
Ensuring that your site has indexable content is very important. Multimedia content such as images and videos are often neglected by search engines in favour of text-based content so including alt text for images or transcripts of videos is very helpful.
On top of this there are considerations such as targeting keywords and ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly – to name a few.
HelpCentre Guide: How do I add Alt and Title Tags to the images on my site?
Is SEO really that difficult?
SEO is a complicated topic and the prospect can be daunting at times. Even so, it's something that you can tackle yourself if you're armed with the right information!
The Create platform enables you to actively work on your SEO by providing easy ways to include meta-information, alt-tags for images and many more, and just knowing the basics will make a big difference.
HelpCentre Guide: How to set up my meta information for SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is an important topic for website owners, and rightly so. Building your content to effectively target search engines can make a massive impact. By having a better understanding of search engines, you'll feel more comfortable getting started.
In the next blog in this series, Sophie will walk you through getting started on the road to SEO and talk about how mobile-browsing is changing the way we look at the topic.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions.