About SEO

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is the science of crafting your website in a way that can help you ‘naturally’ achieve top positions in the search engine results pages (SERPs). As approximately 80% of web users click though on the natural results listings rather than the paid-for results, it really pays to know something about SEO technique; particularly if you have a bottom line relying solely on web traffic.

What constitutes SEO?

Rather than being the mysterious art many SEO practitioners make it out to be, SEO could be more accurately described as a technical, highly measurable toolkit of interlocking web variables. So, from an SEO perspective, even the smallest improvements made to one function of your site can have an incredible impact on your ROI. These variables can be grouped together under the following categories:

SEO categories explained

Each of these categories involves a plethora of inextricably linked features. For example, when talking about keywords, it’s much more than simply picking the word ‘travel’ if you have a travel site, there is a good deal of research that needs to be done first in order to target the most appropriate keywords for your business. You will need to assess your products or services, analyze what the competition are up to, find out where in the consumer purchasing decision you would be most effectively positioned and so on. Getting that right provides a great basis for success before fully optimizing for your targeted search terms, but you need to make sure web users can actually see you - which means you need to make sure the search engine spiders can see you. This means that ‘build’elements like source code, titles, headings, meta data and such like need to fall in line with the search engine’s guidelines denoting crawlability. For example, spiders eat up text – they can’t see images or flash and struggle with framed sites. Your website could be the most stunning interactive piece of creativity on the web but if the spiders cannot find you, no amount of awards will make up for the impact this could have on your business development.

Linkbuilding for visibility

Linkbuilding is also fundamental to increasing your visibility. Spiders navigate the web by link-surfing. They jump from one site to another via the network of cyberspace links, so it stands to reason that the more links that point to your site, the more the spiders will crawl you and, thus, the more relevant they will consider you to be. The ‘link-juice’ provided by, ideally, lots of high quality, inbound links will add strength and visibility to your site. The key is creating unique and interesting content that makes people want to link to you, that holds web users’ interest when they visit you and that keeps them coming back for more. Getting all of the above right is a self-fulfilling circle of testing, measuring and tweaking but the results can be seriously profitable.

SEO business sense

Of all the tools in the marketing mix, SEO really is one of the most cost-efficient. The effects of a well optimized website are two-fold. Primarily, it will give your site a chance to reach the top spots in the search engine results. We already know that around 42% of all web users click through on the number one position result. After that, approximately 13% enter on position two with subsequent positions achieving decreasing traffic numbers, and only 2% make it to the second results page; though 2% of hundreds of millions of searches is still not bad. The point here is that around three quarters of all online transactions start with the search engines so conversions from a top position are fruitful. The fact that you can see fluctuations in your return on investment very clearly with SEO means that you can fine-tune your site with informed ‘test-and-learn’ knowledge. If certain keywords are outperforming others, it is clear what you need to optimize for and so forth.

What’s more, in addition to the directly measurable results generated by SEO, the effect on your brand can also be very positive. Achieving a top position not only drives traffic but increases awareness and lends strength to your brand by ranking you as superior to competitors in your field. With worldwide internet user growth having increased by nearly 350% since the turn of the millennium (Nielsen Online, March ‘09) and a global recession to boot, the days of the big above-the-line advertising campaign appear to be numbered; search is where the real leg-work is at.