How does SEO work?
Google is like the CEO of SEO, it’s the search engine that dominates the search space, boasting a 92.5% market share. Therefore, most digital marketers will adhere to its best practice guidelines to achieve the best results.
It’s easier to think about SEO can be split out into two parts:
- What happens off your website (off-page SEO)
- What happens on your website (on-page SEO)
The off-page part is in reference to techniques such as local SEO, backlinks, domain authority and social signals. These signals are used by Google (and other search engines) to determine the ranking of your site.
Local SEO is exactly as it sounds. It’s the technique of creating signals from review sites and directories like Google My Business and Yelp to gain visibility based on searches from a specific region or for search queries like, ‘shoe shop near me’.
These are a bit like the digital version of ‘word of mouth’. Backlinks can be gained in many ways, such as PR, blogging, reviews or event promotion. Gaining a link to your site from a relevant, authoritative website signals to Google that your site or content is being ‘recommended’ or talked about by other people, suggesting credibility and a quality destination to send its users to.
On-page SEO is the optimisation element of SEO. This part includes a lot of more obvious criteria, like using relevant keywords in your headers and copy, optimising meta descriptions to help Google identify what your page is about, and then some technical elements in the build of your site.
Keywords help Google identify how relevant your content is, in line with users’ search queries. This doesn’t mean littering your content with the same keyword 100 times, known as ‘keyword stuffing’, but using the term or synonyms naturally in H1s, title tags and your URL. Keyword stuffing isn’t best practice, and if your content isn’t relevant, your site might be penalised in where it’s ranked in Google’s SERPs. For example, if your content was stuffed with the term, ‘Free MOT’, but then was actually a sales page about selling insurance schemes, it’s a deliberate action to mislead online users to visit your site.
Google updates the algorithm regularly and now has a focus on user intent and experience. Ensuring your website or content serves this purpose will help get you better results. From Google’s perspective, they want to show the best results for searches to their users. This means the results with the most relevant information and that perform well across the devices that their user is using; mobile, tablet or desktop.
Technical SEO is really important and should be considered at the early planning stages of building a website. This includes everything from page security (using SSL/HTTPS), breadcrumb navigation to schema mark-up and page performance.
Google prefers websites that load quickly, are safe for its users and is easy for it to crawl (read when searching for results). It’s often this aspect of SEO which steers brands to partnering with an SEO agency or performance marketing specialist that can implement these techniques correctly.
10 reasons why SEO is important for brands
- Boost brand visibility. Google has trillions of users, a huge opportunity to get your brand in front of a global audience.
- SEO increases website traffic, and importantly the quality traffic when you optimise content for relevant search queries.
- Its great for conversions. Up to 80% of people search online for a company before making a purchase.
- Voice search is growing in popularity. 27% of the global population using voice search on mobile, whilst 55% of households are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022. Optimising your site for voice SEO boosts your brand visibility and meets modern audience expectations.
- Organic rankings are great for credibility. Audiences don’t always want to be sold to, and will ignore paid ads. Around 25% of online users browse the internet using an ad blocker and 70-80% ignoring paid ads entirely to choose organic results.
- Better user experience, for better results. Putting SEO at the forefront of your marketing strategy goes hand in hand with customer experience. Google’s updates is driving brands to adopt practices that generate valuable content and good online experience.
- Local SEO drives revenue. 90% of consumers use the internet to find a local business, whilst 66% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from brands that have mobile sites optimised for their location.
- SEO is a long-term strategy. Brands can update and re-use legacy content and reap the benefits. Often FAQs or queries will remain the same for years, creating quality content that answers a question now, will likely still answer that question 5 years from now and you don’t have to keep paying for the traffic!
- ROI value. The great thing about SEO is that the returns you see are long lasting. Whilst it does still require some investment, the benefits of visibility, credibility and long term traffic provide great value for money.
- Insight driven. The great thing about gearing your marketing to Google is that Google provide a portfolio of free tools to track, research, test and monitor the activity. Tools like Google analytics, Google Trends are really useful to ensure better performance from legitimate user activity insight.
Creating an SEO driven marketing strategy for your brand
A great place to start is to review your current activity or run a ‘digital marketing audit’ to identify what is currently working well, what’s not and any quick wins you might be able to implement to see improvement. Then set some realistic goals, and formulate a comprehensive action plan, or roadmap, of how you’re going to get there.
If your organisation doesn’t have the resource, tools or expertise to achieve this, working with an experienced SEO team is a great way to make sure you implement the techniques correctly.
We are BBI, an award-winning integrated marketing agency. We have been helping leading brands to achieve their goals through content-led performance marketing since 2011. Take a look at some of our recent work, or get in touch to discover how we can help you achieve your digital goals.
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