It’s pretty much impossible these days to find a business that doesn’t have a website. They’re essential to success in a world where Google searches have replaced looking in the phone book or local classifieds for a business that offers a product or service you want.
Every business that has a website wants to make sure they’re appearing at the top of the results in relevant internet searches. You probably know from your own search habits, it’s not often you go beyond the first few results, let alone the first page. So how do businesses get their websites to appear higher than others in search results? That’s where SEO comes into play.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimisation. We all know what a search engine is; most westerners use Google, but there are other players in the market like Bing and Yahoo too. But what do we mean by ‘Optimisation’? In order to explain that, we need to know about algorithms.
An algorithm is a formula used by search engines. This formula is programmed to scan (aka ‘crawl’) websites for specific data and information. That information helps the search engine determine how relevant your website is to the terms people enter when searching. When we say ‘Optimisation’ we’re talking about the process of making updates to your website, so it’s deemed relevant to the right searches.
So, if you sell garden supplies in Gympie and someone enters ‘garden supplies Gympie’ into Google, you’d hope your business’ website would appear at the top of the list. After all, your business is relevant to what the person is searching! Yet that isn’t always the case.
It’s not the search engine getting it wrong, it’s because your site isn’t optimised to let the search engine know you are selling garden supplies in Gympie. To optimise your site, you need the help of an expert that knows what information the algorithm is programmed to look for and where it’s looking for that information.
Why not DIY?
SEO is tricky and time consuming. Google and other search engines don’t make it easy to work out what the algorithms are looking for and they frequently update their algorithms. They certainly don’t make public knowledge of exactly what data or information their formulas are preferencing.
Why? Serving the best, most relevant results is the way search engines become popular with users. Keeping their algorithms secret from competitors helps Google stay at the top of the market. Staying there also means always looking for ways to improve their algorithms. Due to constantly shifting goalposts, SEO is an ongoing exercise. It’s not something you can do once and forget about it.
It also means experts in Search Engine Optimisation have to work hard – often through trial and error, keen investigation and keeping an ear out for industry rumours – to keep abreast of what search engines are preferencing. An expert in SEO will know what information search engines are looking for and where that data needs to be positioned in your website to give you the best chance of appearing above other sites in search results.
What Might Change?
Your SEO expert might need to change some of the website code. That’s the geeky stuff in the background that is visible to search engines but isn’t visible when someone visits your website. The visible content on your site will most likely need to change too. You may also need to increase the frequency of updating content on your site. The look of the site might need to change to make it more attractive for someone to stay on the site for longer. Finally, the function of the site may need to be altered to make it easier for the end user.