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What Is SEO and How Does It Work?


There are loads of digital marketing acronyms that get thrown around, which you may or may not have heard of – terms like SEO, PPC, CRO, SEM…and you may well have no idea what they are and whether they could make a difference to your business.

So, before we worry about how it all works, we’ll start with the most basic question…

… what on earth is SEO?!

I’ll keep things simple.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation – and that essentially says exactly what it does – it optimises your websites for search engines.

And why is that important? Well, you might have already asked the alternative question ‘how do I rank on page one of Google?’ – and that’s basically what SEO does. The aim is to get your page ranking higher when people search for terms related to your business, getting you more traffic, more leads and more sales.

SEO is all about attracting more organic or unpaid traffic, so it differs from paid ads where you’d be paying either per click or for how many times your page is displayed as a search result. If your page is ranking well organically, all of the traffic that comes through as a result is free.

This is one of the reasons that businesses use SEO – it’s a long term strategy which tends to provide a great return on investment, so once you’ve built up some traction it becomes a really powerful marketing tool.

But that’s not the only benefit.

Even though the proportion of paid results on a search results page is growing, people actually trust the unpaid results more. Ranking well as an organic result can help build this trust among potential customers, as well as increasing your brand visibility and reputation online.

Now the challenge comes because the huge majority of people click a link on the first page of search results, and about a third of these click throughs go to the top 3 results – so if you’re wanting to get more traffic through to your website, there can be a lot of competition depending on what search terms you want to rank for. Getting your website into one of those top spots really places you as an expert in that area and is a great way of building customer trust.

It’s not all about getting more traction on search engines – many aspects of good SEO also improve the customer experience on your website. Things like having a site that loads fast, is mobile friendly or has really helpful content are all things that improve people’s experience with your brand, whether they’re already a customer or looking to become one.

Depending on what you do as an organisation, your website might be the only part of your business that’s open 24/7. As we’re all relying on the internet more and more during everyday life, your website is a vital gateway to pull in more visitors, let them know how you can help them and convert them into leads and customers. Getting your site performing as well as possible for you can reap huge rewards for your business.


How can I get all these benefits for my website?

There are thought to be over 200 factors that Google takes into account when deciding how to rank websites for a given search query. Some factors have a greater influence than others, and SEO is a process of analysing what’s currently working on your site and where to make improvements – taking into account what other competitors in your industry are doing. These ranking factors include examples that I mentioned earlier such as page loading speeds, mobile friendly websites and high quality-content, along with factors like how the pages in your site are linked together, the URL structure you’re using and whether your site has a security certificate.

Depending on the time you have available and your skills and knowledge, some of these ranking factors you’ll be able to improve yourself to a certain extent, whilst others might need the help of your web developer (if you have one) or a digital marketing agency like ourselves.

One of the great things about SEO is that it’s often a cumulative effect – there’s not one single ranking factor that does all the work, although some do have more impact than others – and you don’t have to have all 200 plus ranking factors in place in order for your site to do well. Depending on how competitive your industry and the keywords you want to rank for are, you might find you get some really good results just by implementing quite basic SEO factors, whilst other businesses and website with higher competition will need more advanced work.

These ranking factors are grouped into different areas of SEO. Some of these types of SEO are very general and will play a part in all websites, whilst other areas can be targeted towards the needs of your business. Take a look at our blog ‘What Are the Different Types of SEO?‘ where we’ll start exploring how the different ranking factors benefit your website and build your presence online. 

How can we help?

HeyYou! provides a range of services, including SEO, to SMEs and start-ups. Take a look at the ways we can help your business succeed online.

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Hannah Wade

Founder of HeyYou! Digital. Avid drinker of tea.

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