A Beginners Guide to SEO

You sell spades. I want a spade.

I open up Google, type in ‘spades’, and get 24,800,000 results in less than a third of a second. Where are your spades?

What is Search engine optimisation?

Search engines trawl through hundreds of signals to see if your website matches a search request. When a search is made, your website will be rewarded if it has the information that customers are looking for on a clearly structured site.

Think of your website as a book. Your home page is the title, the tagline is an overview, the tabs are your chapters, and the content tells the story. Each page has a number on it, as well as the name of the corresponding chapter.

This is how information is indexed, and how search engines find you. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is presenting the content that people want in a way that search engines can find it.

How search engines work

You don’t really need to know the technical side of how the algorithms work – except this: there are over 200 signals factored in to see if your content is relevant to a search.   

Why is relevance the most important factor? Because search engines are service providers, and you are their customers. You don’t want them to send a plumber when you asked for an electrician. If they do, you will take your business elsewhere.  

Do you need SEO?

Yes, because SEO is all about being found by a search engine amongst the hundreds of millions of options out there – and who doesn’t want that?

However, if you don’t have a good website to start with, it is a bit like trying to fill up a leaky bucket. You should plug the holes first, rather than trying to fill the bucket faster.  

And a pretty website doesn’t count. Google doesn’t index pretty.

Should you do your own SEO?

Like any other profession, SEO is a specialist field – except that the rules for SEO change constantly, so current knowledge is invaluable. When Search Engines change the rules, this can have drastic effects on your whole strategy, and you need to make adjustments accordingly.  It is like learning a whole new set of road rules twice a year.

There are always DIY options for businesses that might not have the budget for a long-term SEO retainer.  When writing up your web copy, don’t fall for the old tricks like numerous bold headings, hidden on-page coding, overly repeated keywords, and buying back links. These are now penalised by search engines.   

The highest-ranking websites are those that regularly update content to attract return visitors and engage with them. Google, Yahoo and Bing are all rewarding quality content and a great human experience, over the quick traffic fix.  Do your research before taking action.

How soon can you expect results?

There is no quick fix to improve organic results; it takes time. It should be part of your long-term marketing strategy (alongside social media, and potentially, Search Engine Marketing).

There are numerous packages out there offered as monthly SEO retainers, and it can be confusing to try and choose one – but to maximise outcomes, we recommend a minimum 12-month plan.