What is SEO?
For business owners entering the world of Websites and Online selling, there are a lot of confusing terms and acronyms. One phrase you may have seen banded around is ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ or SEO for short. But what is SEO, what is a Search Engine and why do you need to know about it? In this article I aim to explain in layman’s terms what SEO is and how it is probably relevant to your business.
Is this SEO Article for you?
So as not to waste any more of your time reading an article that may not be for you. Firstly for SEO to warrant any place in your life, you need to own or manage a Website. If your business doesn’t have a website and you have no intention of ever having a website, you can stop reading now. Unless of course you have nothing better to do, then welcome to my blog.
From the top
Since you are still reading, I’m going to assume you have a website, so lets talk about Search Engines. You may not know right now what a Search Engine is (but you will soon).
So if I mention the names ‘Google’, ‘Bing’ or ‘Yahoo’, the first mystery is revealed. Indeed, Google, Bing and Yahoo are all Search Engines. Unlike a car or a motorcycle, a Search Engine lives in a virtual world. This means it’s not something tangible that you can touch and you certainly wouldn’t change its oil. Its existence is on a very powerful network of computers called servers and is a combination of electronics and software.
While s Search Engine has no wheels, it does however have ever extending tentacles, which reach out across every wire or wireless connection on the Internet. Every computer, every Smart phone and Tablet are touched by these tentacles. These tentacles are often referred to as Spiders, Bots or Crawlers.
The Spiders are coming
Though invisible and made up of tiny electronic pulses, these creatures are very real. Indeed, right now they are probably crawling around in the very device you are using to read this. But don’t be too alarmed, they won’t bite.
The Spiders (I like to call them Spiders), travel the World Wide Web and Internet, often piggy backing on your searches. Also worth a mention is that the Spiders can travel alone, probing the internet without hitching a ride. Regardless of how they get there though, when they arrive on a website, they get very busy mapping, reading and reporting. There is so much to do for these busy little bots, the mind boggles!
How does a Search Engine bot crawl a website?
Spiders frequent most websites, visiting time and time again. Sometimes they follow a Search, sometimes they stumble upon a website and sometimes Website developers invite them to come take a look.
On arrival the Spider will firstly time how long it takes to see the Website Page it has landed on. It sends this information back to the Search Engine, letting it know if your website loads fast or slow. The Search Engine logs the time and rates the speed as part of the overall page score. Speed is very important to the Search Engines as it tells them if your Website is friendly to Mobile devices like Phones and iPads.
The next job for the Spider is to relay all of the images and words on your website, back to the Search Engine to read. Yes, Search Engines can read. In fact, their reading ability is comparable to that of a 10 year old child, only with a far better vocabulary. Should this 10 year old child mind finds the sentences easy to read and it understands what the website represents, it gives a positive score. If however you confuse the child, it throws a bit of a tantrum.
In the instance where a Spider happens to enter a website off the back of a user (like yourself), it will time how long you are on the website, each page and how many pages you visit. If it thinks you are happy, it will tell the Search Engine. The Search Engine then counts the happy visitors and gives the website a score. Using the Spiders, each visit to your website enables the Search Engine to build a clearer picture of the website, which it then presents to the world.
How does a Search Engine help me?
So let’s say you have just opened up Google on you iPad and typed in “what is SEO”. When you hit enter, the Search Engine starts to look through its unfathomable database of websites, looking for the phrase you just typed in. This phrase is known as a ‘Keyword’. If and when it finds the keyword “what is SEO” on a website or websites, it uses its score to present what it considers to be the best website to answer your query. We often call this Score your ‘Rank’ or ‘Ranking’.
If a website has lots of clues and content that makes it very easy for the Search Engine to understand, the Ranking will be good and the website will appear high up on the Search Results page. Other factors such as the location of the person searching and the location of the websites business also affect what is presented in response to a search.
For example, if you go to Perth and Search Google for ‘Volkswagen Service’, you will get Volkswagen mechanics in the Perth area. If you do the same search in Mornington, you will get one of my clients, based in Mornington.
So what is Search Engine Optimisation?
Search Engine Optimisation is the fine art of presenting a website in the most palatable manner possible Thus appeasing the Search Engines. Website Speed is increased by ensuring that images and functions do not use too much of a computers brain power.
Tags and clues are placed on each page in the form of ‘Meta Data’ to tell the Search Engine what the webpage is about. Text on the Webpage is written in such a way that the Search Engine can understand it easily. Even the photos tell the Search Engine, what the page and the business is all about. Done properly, the results can be staggering and in time a website will present in the top positions of Google, Bing and so on.
Organic SEO is best
There are many techniques that will improve Google Rankings, but the best of all is honesty. Present an honest website and the battle is almost one. While SEO can frustrate Website owners, it’s important to understand why the Search Engines are so fussy.
For all of the evils we hear about Google, Bing and the others, their fundamental purpose for existing, is to allow people like you and me to find stuff on the internet. If they provide poor search results, you will try using a different Search Engine. Of course, they also provide businesses with paid advertising opportunities. This allows their business to rank without the use of SEO, but this can get pricey. Businesses that know no better, often get caught in this trap, so it is advisable to consult a company like Brag Design inc, before pouring the big bucks into Adwords or Facebook Marketing.
Trying to cheat the Search Engines will almost always result in disaster. Many SEO companies outsource to foreign countries and the work is often poor. The Search Engines see this and penalise the website, sometimes for years. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of being Fair Dinkum, when it comes to SEO.
Any more questions about SEO?
I hope I have provided some insight on what SEO is and that you get a rough idea of what it means. Like any profession, there is a lot more to it than what I have just outlined. What I hope you take from this article is enough knowledge not to get ripped off. SEO companies love to throw around lots of big words and acronyms. This is in the hope that you hand over cash and ask no questions. SEO is not easy, but by the same token it is not rocket science. You don’t necessarily have to know everything about how it is done. But knowing the fundamentals will help you avoid the sharks when hiring someone.
To learn more, why not give us a call or one those new found surfing skills you have just acquired.