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What is SEO?

7 MINUTES TO READ
What is SEO?
Summary: What is Search Engine Optimisation and why do I need it for my business?

There’s an adage in the Digital Marketing world which says that there is no better place to hide than on the 2nd page of Google. There’s lots of analysis out there to demonstrate this point showing differing clickthrough rates, but whichever source you choose, you will see a trend that looks something like this :

Click through rate by Google ranking

People are typically 10 times more likely to click on the number 1 result than on number 10, and 20 times as likely to click on a result on the first page over one on page 2.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the art of getting search terms relevant to your business to rank more highly on Google.

 

Other than ranking, what makes people click through?

Title length : People scan google search pages, so keep your titles short, descriptive and impactful. Backlinko research says that title tags with 15-40 characters have a 9% better click through than those outside of this range.

Questions : People are 14% more likely to click through to a title with a question, with the likelihood even higher if you rank in the top 5 (Source backlinko.com survey 2019). Responses to “FAQs” are particularly high.

 

Answers : 49% of respondents to Ignite’s survey said that it was “very important” that the search result answers their question quickly.  If the answer isn’t in the search result and they click through, page speed and thoroughness of answer were seen as equally important as each other.

Descriptions : Once the title has grabbed attention, people do read the descriptions below the header. In the Ignite survey, 63% of respondents said that it had a significant impact on their decision to click.

Video and images : Whilst text results are still the most popular, image and video search results are on the increase as they stop the eye where you are scrolling through pages of text. Google has recently bought You Tube, and so counts video high in it’s ranking factors.

Brand awareness : Obviously varies based on each individual search, but if you sell branded products, 55% of people say they would click on the familiar brand first. (Ignite)

Power words : Be wary of “power words” such as Ultimate, Secret, Perfect, Insane or Amazing in your titles – Google often ranks them down, seeing them as clickbait. Backlinko data suggests this negatively impacts click through by as much as 14%. However, this is currently not the case on Facebook, so save your boasting for Social Media.

 

How do I get on the first page of Google?

There is no silver bullet, particularly as Google continuously tweaks it’s ranking factors, and search results are moment in time dynamic. However, there are actions you can take to improve where you appear in search results.

Firstly, paid search. Not all Ads get to appear on page 1, but the good Ads do – this is a great technique for creating digital “street shout” as, professionally executed, it is responsive and effective. The downsides are that people prefer to click on organic results when offered as an option, and paid Ads do not contribute to your Google ranking score, so once the Ad is stopped, you can simply disappear from page 1.

Secondly, SEO – this is the long game, in which you build your reputation with Google by optimizing your site and it’s content to score more highly in their search ranking factors for specific phrases or topics.

 

So, what are Google’s search ranking factors?

At time of writing, Google has over 200 ranking factors, all of which are a closely guarded secret sauce. Google search is built on the basis that “websites and pages should be created to help users” and summarises the various factors by saying that when assessing content, they are looking for :

Expertise

Authority

Trustworthiness

Expertise is evaluated primarily based on specific content pieces (rather than the overall site) and Google is seeking out content created by a subject matter expert. This can be formal (requiring education or training in the field) or everyday (where relevance of life experience is more important)

Authority is about reputation. This is assessed based on 3rd party opinion / what people think about your site and business on a given topic – so reviews, references, recommendations and news articles from relevant bodies are key. Links with sites which have high relevant Authority scores will boost your own authority.

Trustworthiness is about legitimacy, transparency and accuracy of the website and it’s content. Google seeks out credibility indicators such as who is responsible for the site, contact details and subject consensus with recognised experts.

 

How do I influence my E-A-T scores?

WSI Google insights 2021 say that the top ranking factors are currently :

Content quality  – accuracy and relevancy of a piece of content – check your facts and keep your content up to date to score highly here.

Mobile friendly – with over 60% of all online searches being on mobile, and a significant increase in mobile usage in the workplace, your site must not only be mobile responsive, but must also read well on a mobile device.

Secure – your site must have https status

Time on page – as an indicator of user experience. If the visitor spends good quality time on a page on your site, the content on that page is deemed to be meeting the user’s requirements.

Load speed – 40% of people abandon after 3 seconds, so pay attention to load times, particularly on key landing pages

On page optimization – check that your headers and titles are well written and unique, your images are tagged, that your content is naturally written and highlights the phrases you want to be found for, and that internal links within your site all work

Backlinks – audit the links into your site to check they are relevant and add to your authority, and that the sites that you link to are relevant to you. Remove any which don’t fit your criteria as you will be marked down for “toxic backlinks”.

This infographic link from Hubspot does a great job of describing the full list as they see it.

There are many, constantly changing, strands to SEO which can be hard to stay on top of in a smaller business. If you don’t have the resources to manage SEO yourselves, do consider taking on an expert (like us) who knows the latest, most affordable techniques in raising your profile on google so that you appear on page 1 more regularly and can achieve those higher click through results.

 

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