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What is Search Engine Optimisation?

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It's one of the most important factors in web design, but even now, many people still don't know what search engine optimisation is and how vital it is.  

Having professional search engine optimisation can make a huge difference to whether your business gets that cherished first place on Google and the other search engines! 94% of online users ignore sponsored or paid results and only look at the organic listings, so it's imperative that your website is found and found at the top. This is especially important given the fact that 62% of people never go past the first page of results and 42% don't even go past the first result! It's figures like these that drove website owners to find out how they could get on the first page of organic search engine results. They discovered that the answer was search engine optimisation, but what is it exactly?

To greater understand search engine optimisation (SEO), it helps to know how search engine works. There's no better way of doing this than by looking at the one search engine that everyone (unless you've lived in a cave for decades!), Google.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Quite simply, Google doesn't actually understand what the words on your site mean; neither do they realise what the keywords you search for mean. However, it can very easily produce a list of websites that have your keywords in. It will then apply an incredibly complex algorithm to try and work out which websites are the most relevant to your search. The way it works is simple; it will look at how many times your keywords appear on each website, whether they are packed onto one page or spread out equally throughout the site, where the words appear on each page, paragraph and sentence and whether third party websites have recommended any of the results as a good resource by linking to them.

Basically, Google's algorithm will ask itself the following questions when indexing your site;

  • Are the keywords in the page title?
  • Are the keywords spread across the page?
  • Are they repeated too many times?
  • Do other sites relevant to the keywords link to this site?

What this will do is give Google a great idea about which websites are most relevant to your search enquiry. This is despite it not understanding what any of the websites or keywords mean!

So, as the name suggests, all an SEO expert has to do is optimise a website design to appeal to that search engine algorithm, putting all the right words in the right places by adjusting the copy, building links with third party websites and so on. Unfortunately, you can never be certain just which keywords a potential customer will search with, Google’s algorithm is one of the best kept secrets in the world, and it’s constantly tweaked to improve the results!

Expertise in SEO can only come with years of experience actually doing it, experimenting with different techniques and staying on top of the many changes and how they affect things. Like any other trade, search engine optimisation is a specialist skill and one that should always be ongoing, evolving and responding to the latest changes in search engine algorithms and practices.