What Is SEO and How Did It Come About
SEO otherwise known as search engine optimisation is the process of making content firstly, easy for search engines to understand and secondly rank well in the aforementioned search engines. In 2020 the most important thing for making your SEO efforts really successfull is to make it people friendly
The Early Days Of Search & SEO
In the early days of search, a search engine optimisation professional would do everything in his or her power to get a page to appear at the top of the search results page. In the very early days paid advertising was in its infancy or non existent. A lot of the search page real estate was given to organic results so a page ranking highly on the first page of the search engine results page could be in theory quite lucrative.
This would result in a flood of qualified traffic interested or even ready to buy the services or products on offer.
There was a catch to this. Search engines were young and dumb. Most of the algorithms worked on a principle of how often a word or phrase appears on a particular piece of content. So being smart people, SEO’s ( search engine optimisers) worked out that simply repeating words as often as they could resulted in higher rankings So rather then write good content they tried to cheat the system to achieve higher rankings. These pages were awful for a person to read and understand. This technique was known as keyword stuffing. This and other techniques were rife up until recently, the collective term used to describe these seo techniques are known as black hat SEO, gaming the search engines to gain rankings. Black hat SEO is still around today but as soon as the search engines know and understand these approaches they try to null the impact and penalise websites that undertake the practice.
Search Engine Optimisation in 2020
Fast forward to 2020 and we have search engines that are both smart and are able to return results that are accurate and mirror the user’s intent when performing the search. Its no mistake that google is the number one search engine in the world. Google has led the way, made it easy to find information that is both correct and matches what the user actually wants to find. We still get the odd search result that is incorrect but it few and far between. You might say that search is a never ending quest to return the best results.
Qualified Traffic Vs Traffic
SEO is about maximising qualified traffic, qualified is an interesting term what makes it qualified. Content has a job to attract your ideal customer and at the same time repel non customers. Non customers are people who will waste your resources but never have any intention of buying what you have to sell. When you write your content don’t be afraid of using your content to qualify your customers if you sell an expensive product mention the high cost (also include why it’s a high price) this will put off those who can not afford your product or service. traffic is all about getting real people who have an intent and the means to either learn, connect or buy, to view your content/offering.
Right Place Right Time
Being the best result means satisfying the users desire supplying the correct information, whatever it is, at the right time. Search is a fantastic tool for any business because you can present your offer to the right person at the time they are considering your service or product.
There is a common misconception that SEO is free traffic and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Time is valuable and if you’re reading this I would hazard a guess that your time has value.
Optimisation for search has to be viewed as an investment so a lot of time and money has to be invested in producing quality content, going over the content and performing the on page technical seo aspects of the project producing the assets for the article and lets not forget that there is also off page SEO to perform.
Once the content is complete we have to get eyes on it to see it. so promotion via social channels maybe even use paid advertising to get people to view it. Without people viewing our content its a complete wasted effort.
SEO is not hard and there is no secret sauce to pinch a phrase from one of my favorite movies, Kung Fu Panda. As with most things in life, it’s easy if you know how. But in reality its not overly complicated, It’s a process that can be broken down and repeated.
Pick a topic and do some keyword research around said topic. A good starting point would be using a search engine to see what other people are writing about your chosen subject. The starting keywords are important but not as important as they used to be. Now we look at it as a topic. By using a topic we have the ability to rank for multiple keywords and phrases expanding our reach,
Remember you are writing for people try not to worry about search engines when you start your piece. One of the best skills you can learn is the ability to write engaging copy. It is believed that one of the signals used to help rank content is something called dwell time, the amount of time a person stays on your page the more engaging your article the longer a person will stay on your content.
So what can you do to increase your search engine rankings, here’s a short guide to on page optimisation.
When writing about a particular subject there may be certain words that are semantically linked. To put it in layman’s terms its words that you would use to describe a certain topic or be included in the conversation about that topic. an example would be if you are talking about cars you may use terms such as engine, MPG top-speed, fuel economy etc. For the purposes of SEO using semantically related word will add context to your chosen topic allowing search engine to better understand your content and for that content to perform better in the search engine rankings.for a more in depth explanation take a look at semrush.com/kb/593-semantically-related-keywords.
Use headings to break up your content into skimable sections. When reading online people like to skim read and find the part of the document that contains the information they are looking for. Make it easy for them to do this by using descriptive headings that describe the content in the section that follows the headline.
Images should be used to enhance and illustrate the written content the filename of the images used should contain some descriptive keywords related to your topic but also describe the image so the following image of a computer screen with the word SEO is simply called SEO-computer-screen.png
Alt text, I’m going to assume you are familiar, at least on a basic level with html use the alt tag to again reinforce the image content I like to describe the image as if i was describing the content of the image to a blind person. This I find to be the most effective way to use the alt tag not to mention this is exactly how it was meant to be used.
Structured data is another way of telling the search engines what your content is about this is how Google describes it.