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What is SEO? – The Basics


So what is SEO? Well search engine optimisation or SEO, is a very simple concept. We all use search engines, such as Google, to help us find things that we need. This can be anything from a cooking recipe to how to fix something to finding a local service provider. It’s likely you use your favourite search engine more often than you realise. So how do you personally use Google when you need something?


Google search bar


It’s almost guaranteed that you will use a term that you think best describes what it is you’re looking for right? In the hope that the results will provide simple answers for what you need. A quick and easy solution, which makes Google such a wonderful resource for almost all of us on a daily basis.

In order to keep you coming back and using their search engine, Google works extremely hard to make sure that the top results it provides you with are the most relevant to what you are searching for, it’s as simple as that.


Search results


As a Google user, SEO is no more than the above. You just want your query answered as quickly and effectively as possible so you can crack on with the rest of your day, but what about as a company or individual who wants users to see their website as a search result for a query? Well this is where SEO becomes a highly valuable and extremely effective marketing strategy and it is one that brands invest in heavily.

If a potential customer uses Google to specifically search for a service you offer, then they are highly likely to make contact or even make a purchase directly from your website. Compare it to other forms of marketing for a moment.

Cold calling – A customer receives a phone call from a random person, at a random company, offering a service they probably do not need or have not considered they need yet. The conversion rate is going to be extremely low.

Print advertising – Simply putting a brand in front of as many people as possible, not necessarily targeting customers who are particularly interested in the product or service on offer. Conversion rates are again low.

Social media marketing – Paid social media marketing is similar to the above, although with more accurate targeting of user demographics based on sex, age, location and even interests, but these users are still seeing adverts that they were not looking for. This becomes an intrusive way of marketing.

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Search engine marketing (Paid) – Any company can use search advertising as a way of featuring adverts within search results. This is often known as Pay Per Click and Google’s own product is called Adwords, where each click on your search result is paid for as part of your marketing campaign. This is highly targeted market and is an effective digital marketing strategy, especially for those with the financial resources to maximise its potential. The downside to paid advertising on search engines is growth and cost per acquisition. Once you stop paying, the customers stop coming and each new customer comes at a cost.

Why is SEO different?

Search engine optimisation is fundamentally different to the above marketing channels. Brands that have successfully implemented SEO into their marketing campaigns benefit from the following:

  1. The customer that has landed on your website wants to be there.
  2. The content on your website matters to the visitor and as a result, they take notice of what you say and they read and engage more in the content you provide them with.
  3. Their experience of your brand is positive. They searched for your services, they saw your page in search results and they chose to click to find out more. They made all their own decisions.

Sounds like SEO is a no-brainer? Well that is actually quite true.

How can brands improve their SEO?

This is where things get a little less simple, after all if it was easy, every company would have perfect SEO and Google would not know what website to show. What this means is that in every market there is space for competition and visibility. SMEs can compete with corporations and startups can enter swamped markets online, all it needs is the right strategy for your website.

What is SEO for your website?

There is no one part to SEO. No one solution fits all. No quick way to the best campaign. Although it doesn’t need to be complex in theory, there are aspects that require extensive digital expertise to take a website forward and see significant digital growth. The below diagram best describes the process of SEO and how it can be utilised to grow your own business online.

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What is SEO


We can see that there are many channels being used to lead into bigger aspects of the campaign. At the start there are more jobs to be carried out, mostly research and understanding the market and competition but also building up domain authority and trust with the search engines through backlinks. Put simply a backlink is where another website, ideally one that is relevant to your industry or site topic, links to your website domain ie because they see it as a valuable resource.

1. What is keyword research?

This is the starting place for any search engine optimisation, whether it is simple optimisation on a small site or a full digital marketing campaign for a FTSE 100 corporation, it is a essential to understand what potential customers search for online. A great starting place is to think of what you would search for if you wanted to find services like yours online. From there things scale up, following all the different related paths to terms that are similar, to synonyms, to long tail keywords (think of these as longer search queries like: Audi car wrapping services in London) to keywords your competitors are using. This work requires deep digging, like a full on research project and it will reveal hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities available for your business.

High volume keywords – often these are research terms, early in the buying stage, such as – Trainers, Car Customisation, Cinema

Mid range keywords – these are more specific, where a user is looking for a more defined answer – Black trainers, Car window tinting, Cinema films

Long tail keywords – these are often highly valuable terms, often neglected due to lower search numbers. Users are much nearer to the buying stage – Black nike air max trainers, BMW car window tinting in london, what is on that cinema near me

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Keyword Research


Great keyword research will not only deliver the targets, it will help to identify what targets are most valuable, based on estimated search traffic, competitiveness for the term and the likelyhood of a conversion for your business. Although this information is not highly accurate initially, it becomes a important factor in the decision making when creating a digital marketing strategy, preventing efforts being wasted in areas that will not directly benefit the growth of a website.

2. How does on-page optimisation work?


SEO on page optimisation

3. Why do backlinks matter in SEO?

This is highly debated in the world of SEO, with professionals around the world debating the exact value of links and how link building is often used to manipulate search, which does make SEO seem more complex than it needs to be, with much of it considered SEO Myths. The fact is, links drive online growth due to the way internet works, not just search engines. Our own experiences online are the best example of how links work.

You visit a site, read content and then see a link to another related article, before you know it you have read 4 articles on 4 different sites and are more knowledgeable on a subject than your ever imagined. This is down to the WEB. The World Wide Web. This network of linking sites, billions of them, are what make the internet what it is.


SEO Backlinks


Google, and all search engines, use this web to spider, crawl and discover what web pages exist. To help find webpages, the search engine spider will follow links from site to site and as it does so, it calculates how many links a website has and decides whether that particular web page is important or not. The more important it deems a page, the higher the authority for that page. High authority pages generally mean higher rank positions in search.

It is important to remember this is the absolute basics of link building and in reality, this is a very specialised area and requires very careful management as part of a successful SEO campaign.


Google Adwords Charity Grant