SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of making a website more visible in the free/natural/organic part of search engine results pages (SERPs).
For the purposes of this article we are going to focus on the UK’s most popular search engine, google.co.uk.
The area highlighted in the image below shows where the natural/organic listings are:
You are not charged when people click on your website listing if it sits in this ‘natural’ part of the page. As you are not charged, the competition to occupy this space is fierce.
A more recent development introduced by Google, as part of its mission to deliver the most relevant results to its users, is ‘local SEO’ which is about appearing in the natural space for searches related to an area or region:
How does Google choose which websites to list first?
Search engines use algorithms (which are essentially formulas) to work out which order to present websites in to deliver the best user experience for searchers. In order for a website to appear in the search engines’ free space a website must be optimised and completely relevant to a searcher’s keyword or phrase. The site must also be recognised as a good source of content and user engagement by search engines. The website optimisations and techniques frequently implemented include:
- Adding relevant and engaging meta data. Meta data that is relevant to search engines includes the page title and page description which are often used by Google to display information in the listings you see when search results are displayed.
- Having logical URLs and URL structure. URL is an acronym for ‘uniform resource locator’. In English it is simply the web address you see in your browser bar i.e. www.star-digital.co.uk/about-us
- Providing rich and useful website content. This is a technique often referred to as ‘content marketing’.
- Creating and maintaining an engaged audience. This can be done through social media and a good content marketing strategy.
- Implementation of ‘structured data’. Implementing structured data allows search engines to crawl, understand and display your website information in the most efficient manner. Examples of structured data in action in an organic listing can be seen below:
How to annoy Google…
There are plenty of people and companies who abuse some of the techniques listed above in order to try and manipulate and ‘beat’ the search engines to gain better positions in the natural results. This bad practice (frequently known as “black hat SEO”) does not lead to a good user experience, and will often lead to a website penalty – such as a website being removed from the natural results. Even huge brands, such as Interflora, have been a victims of a Google penalty.
How to do SEO right?
Search engines simply want to provide the best user experience. They want people to use their search engine to look for a product or service, and they want to provide said users with the most relevant and useful websites. It makes sense really – a website that is clear, easy to navigate and content rich will please us all compared with one which is a bit thin on content and that is difficult to navigate.
If your website is struggling to be seen in the natural results pages of search engines like Google, and you’d like to gain more free traffic, then give us a call. We can help you gain momentum in generating leads or sales through organic results by using a combination of best practice SEO techniques, technical knowledge and creativity.