SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Through SEO, websites are optimised to function well online and help users reach their objectives. Search engine optimization, or SEO for those who prefer the American version, is a word that includes a lot despite being condensed to just three characters.
This is a complicated, fluid subject that is beyond the scope of even an 18,000 word handbook, which is what this is. Despite this, we’ll do our best to cover everything and examine the major pillar ideas that characterise a phrase that has revolutionised business.
Despite being crucial to online success, many people’s eyes glaze over once search engines, optimization, etc. are mentioned. However, if you earn money online or get a sizable chunk of your income from online sales, your SEO training must be of a high calibre. Additionally, it must continually change, almost 150 times more frequently than Google’s algorithm does in a single year.
As a result, if you’re wondering, “How does SEO work?,” this article is for you since we’ll go over:
- What SEO is
- The two basic methods individuals employ to enhance search results
- the significance of having sufficient pertinent material on your website.
- Intent and the importance of attracting attention from users who are looking for pertinent terms.
- The many optimisation tasks that a digital marketing agency may complete on your behalf.
Here at Sway, we offer a fantastic free introduction call with our SEO consultants. Within the meeting, we will discuss your website and its current ranking and provide an in-depth SEO audit that would cost £1000s.
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What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The phrase “search engine optimisation” (often known as SEO) refers to all the methods that a person, group, corporation, or anybody else who wants to be found online may modify their websites to improve the performance of such websites on search engines.
Major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, among other things, spend their days scanning new web pages, crawling them to comprehend their contents, and indexing them for the appropriate terms.
Imagine it as a librarian classifying books into the appropriate categories and areas, such as fiction and non-fiction.
The crawlers for search engines, often known as spiders, have a demanding job since they have to explore BILLIONS of new web pages every single day. They must choose which search query or queries the page fits under after they have a basic understanding of the topics covered by the websites, blogs, and other sorts of information. The final step is to choose which of these pages deserves to be on page one for the provided keywords based on thousands of ranking indicators.
The results at the top of page one will often receive the majority of the organic search traffic.
It’s clear why so many individuals put in such a lot of effort to essentially please search engine algorithms. The closest thing to a guarantee of internet success you can get is if they rank at the top.
A Basic Example of How SEO Works
In order to set the stage, let’s quickly go over an example. Consider that you run a guitar store and want to enhance your online sales. Finding guitars using keywords like “Martin guitars” “Gibson guitars,” and “what is the greatest guitar for live shows?” is the logical next step.
The guitar store would then optimise their website in a number of ways, either internally or by employing an external search marketing agency, to make sure they are discovered on page one of Google for the guitar-related keywords that are important to them.
That is what SEO, in its widest, most general sense, entails: putting your website in front of users who will interact with it.
The method of improving your search engine rankings needs months of dedication, arduous labour, and comprehensive strategies that support one another. This is a major drawback. Working on just one area, like connection construction, is insufficient. Along with that link-building effort, you should make sure your website is optimised for search engines, have a clear SEO plan that outlines your long-term goals, and use relevant keywords across the site.
There are no assurances when it comes to ranking due to Google’s opacity; instead, it’s more about adhering to (many) best practices. In isolation, these activities don’t amount to much, but when combined, they may be revolutionary if individuals are patient enough to go through the process.
Although it may seem difficult to try and accomplish, online users enter literally billions of key phrases daily. If you don’t at least try to rank on page one for 80–90% of the keywords that important to you, this qualified traffic, which is currently travelling to your rivals as you read this, has a range of distinct goals. These intents, which we’ll discuss in more depth shortly, can take many different forms, but they virtually always stem from a user’s desire to purchase or learn more about a good or service.
The necessity to engage in internet marketing tactics is further highlighted by the fact that the content of search results is continually changing to deliver the most seamless user experience possible. Consider the last time you used Google to look for a subject and received the answer without clicking on a website. One of the features that are geared to make the user’s life easier is Google’s page 0 answers or those that can be read without clicking anywhere.
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The Three Bases Of SEO
The same holds true for search engine marketing; without the following pillars, improved search rankings and online exposure will not materialise. A good home is built on strong foundations. These pillars are more conceptual than they are necessary concrete methods or procedures. It takes a lot of diverse labour to build these solid pillars, but it is necessary to guarantee long-term success on search engines. It might be strange to hear terms like “relevance” and “trust” when talking about something as technical as website optimization and traffic from search engines. But because they are all related to the idea that search engines want to give their customers the greatest experience possible, they are crucial to search engine standards. As a consequence, each result for a search listing needs to have a sense of authority, be pertinent to the phrase entered, and come from a reliable source or website.
The first important base is power. The fact that there are millions of people submitting billions of pieces of material trillions of times each day creates a requirement to be authoritative. Due to the democratic nature of search engines, anybody may upload material about any topic they want. Authority is used to distinguish between reputable sources and frauds.
The purpose of Google’s authority ranking system is to prevent Joe Bloggs’ views on the best organic soap from being given the same weight as those of a high degree that has been serving amazing content for the last few years. If the organic soap creator and Bloggs both blog on the most recent advancement in astrophysics, the creator of the organic soap will rank higher. How? Because Google, which controls Youtube, will be able to determine that this person is far more knowledgeable than Joe on this subject according to its algorithm. It has access to all previously submitted content and can quickly determine who should be ranked higher.
The fact that search engines perform this for each and every phrase, request, and search that a user puts into their laptop or smartphone is simply amazing.
A statistic called domain authority (DA) or domain ranking (DR) is used to assess the authority of a complete website, including all of its pages, blog posts, and other content. The measure is the one that websites should work for since it will help fresh content they post rank more quickly because they have all that background domain authority. The BBC has demonstrated its authority hundreds of times previously, so if it releases a new piece, it will rank position one sooner.
One of the most crucial techniques to rank in search results is to gain authority. Links are the primary currency of search engine authority. Getting high-quality backlinks, also known as connections from other authoritative websites to your site or page, is a terrific way to demonstrate to search engines like Google and Yahoo that what you’re saying is valuable enough to appear for relevant queries. Backlinks serve as a kind of endorsement, a guarantee that the users will find your work and what you have to say valuable.
Why should search engines promote your content if your website doesn’t relate to the keywords you’re attempting to target? The purpose of the second base is to ensure that the material produced is pertinent to the list of keywords it claims to be targeting. Because what you’re presenting is the closest thing to what the customer has entered, the better your service page or blog post fits a given query, the higher you’ll rank.
There are several ways to achieve significance. The obvious things that one can do are to have visible text that is pertinent and to make sure that the photos and videos on the website are likewise closely connected to what you’re attempting to rank for. However, importance goes beyond the surface. Alt-texts in photos, tags and other meta features like meta titles are all crucial strategies to raise the relevancy of information. Locations and other auxiliary factors may also affect the significance.
Links, a major aspect in how search engines decide your rating, are related to relevance as well. Let’s assume you’re a huge fan of speedboats or luxury boats and enjoy writing about it, expressing your ideas, etc. If you receive a link from a well-known luxury boat website as a result of something you wrote, Google will understand that you are generating high-quality material that is pertinent to the target term.
In order to demonstrate to Google’s crawlers that other pages on the site are pertinent to that page, linking to pertinent internal pages on your website is another excellent strategy to increase relevance. Internal linking demonstrates your depth of knowledge on other pertinent subjects. If you discuss a blog post on the greatest car manufacturer and then provide an internal link to another article about the best car manufacturer, you are demonstrating the relevance of this material. Of course, this assumes that the link’s context is significant in and of itself.
Trust is a broad term with a lot of depth and emotion attached to it. However, trust is crucial to search engines in a number of ways. They won’t risk their reputation on it if they don’t trust your website, so there’s little way they’ll give you the search exposure you need to succeed.
As businesses and people have a bigger presence in places like social media, off-page considerations have been given more weight. Increasing your social media likes, followers, and mentions all contribute to your brand being more reputable, which will have extra advantages. Other elements like the speed at which a site loads and the typical amount of time spent by visitors are also excellent indicators of how trustworthy a site is.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO, what are they?
All kinds of strategies have been employed over the years to attempt to please or beat (depending on your perspective) the search algorithms since this style of marketing first gained popularity in the early to late 2000s. While some people truly desire to rank as having the finest product, service, or response to a question, others—while still seeking to attain the same goal—have chosen to employ dishonest means and cunning strategies.
Now, these two strategies are known as White Hat SEO tactics and Black Hat SEO techniques.
Black Hat SEO techniques march to The Imperial March while wearing white helmets, carrying blasters, and wielding lightsabers instead of Jedi robes. Grey Hat practises are in between the two extremes and are methods that, although not necessarily terrible in and of themselves, are a little dubious and need to be avoided if long-term success is the objective.
To maintain the accessibility, authority, and performance of your website, it is crucial to comprehend the distinctions between each strategy and the significance of choosing one over the other.
Choose WHITE HAT SEO techniques at all costs.
White Hat work is more difficult and time-consuming, but it is genuine, legitimate, and the only path to dominating your sector online. Black Hat techniques could sound and seem attractive, but they’re really SEO’s equivalent of a get-rich-quick scam. Plans that, if history is any guide, never actually succeed.
So, what is White Hat SEO?
White Hat is an excellent option, as we just explained, and it’s the one you want to take. It provides a variety of ethical, and legal strategies to rank well and will assist you in maintaining your visibility and your hard-earned ranks even after Google releases adjustments.
- respects the standards and regulations established by search engines.
- on pleasing the user rather than the algorithm.
- is a sustained strategy that has an enduring impact on a website.
Sites that are whiter than white may occasionally still receive punishment. It’s more a matter of updating the site, often on a larger scale, if “the algorithms” detect the flaws (essentially simply some software that runs at Google), or just don’t find the site as relevant in search anymore (basically changes in how Google handles ranking in search). Similar to when a radio station stops playing your song because it is no longer good, you need to reevaluate the entire artistic process rather than simply changing the drum samples.
“It’s also possible that a site’s usefulness has already run its course. A website for old-school phone games won’t work if no one uses those phones anymore, no matter how the wording is changed. A certain amount of art goes into moving forward in a way that allows you to reuse some of your previous work and recognising a change in the wind before it’s too late.
It’s critical to realise that despite this, White Hat SEO techniques are still unquestionably the best course of action. Here are a few that you may utilise on your website bearing that in mind.
Six ethical SEO methods
Fast page loads: One of the greatest methods to make your website appear valuable to search engine algorithms is to have it load, navigate between pages, and perform swiftly. When visitors visit your site, they are thrilled because it loads swiftly. Users become irritated and leave if it is unreliable, sluggish, and poorly designed. It makes sense why speedy sites rank higher if you believe that Google prioritises user experience.
Relevant, trustworthy inbound links: Backlinks make it clear to Google that a certain website is trustworthy and should be rewarded. Although it takes time and isn’t especially enjoyable, manually constructing backlinks from websites with high domain authority is precious.
Refined code: Crawlers and spiders take longer to read and index a website with cluttered, bloated code. Make sure your code, whether it’s on the backend or in areas like the URL structure, is accurate.
Keywords that are pertinent to the content: This may seem apparent, and 99 percent of readers will recognise its importance. A little bit of keyword research will increase the authority and relevancy of your content tenfold. Choose a single target term and place it appropriately throughout your article (not too much, not too little). Pick an additional three to five supporting keywords that you may employ to help that goal term. Beyond that, you can concentrate on the piece’s ontology; we’ll talk about this later.
Long-form, high-quality content: Creating a lot of content brings us back to the notion that White Hat SEO tactics are more time-consuming and challenging. Yes, writing two, three, or even four thousand words for a crucial service page can take a day or two. But by doing so, you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed since you’re sharing more information, responding to more inquiries, and overall just demonstrating that you’re deserving of a high ranking. Some people may be concerned that readers won’t read articles with a big word count. You simply need to glance at the “People Also Ask” section to see that Google may choose responses arbitrarily from any place on a web page to respond to any inquiry.
One of the simplest ways to optimise your website is with metadata that is rich in your target keywords, but it is so frequently disregarded. Making ensuring that pictures have alt text, that meta titles and descriptions are complete and contain your target keyword, and that page names are appropriate to the content you are writing about are all simple fixes.
Okay, so White Hat SEO is good! What is Black Hat SEO?
People’s impatience to succeed online is partly to blame for the emergence of black hat SEO techniques. Donning the Black Hat seemed like a very alluring concept, whether it was for digital marketing firms hoping for a quick victory for their customers or for corporations trying to make a quick buck.
Many of these unethical techniques remained unreported for a while when search engines were still developing, but as the number of internet users grew, the algorithms became wiser. We’ll examine this later as they seem to be becoming ever more sophisticated. Therefore, while keyword stuffing and low-quality material helped you in the beginning, it didn’t stick.
As of right now, a list of “Black Hat” techniques is well-established, and Google and other companies have made it quite obvious what they are:
- Concentrate on fast victories that are quickly reversed.
- are concentrated on deceiving consumers and algorithms in an effort to game the system.
- violate the standards set out by search engine providers.
Constantly investing in these illegal strategies has serious negative effects that are unquestionably not worth the benefits they promise. Since search engines do not legally have to index every page that is published, even while your website is online, it is not required to be listed on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Sticking with Black Hat can result in fines and site-wide shutdowns, as well as a tonne of irate potential customers, an extremely high bounce rate, and a tonne of missed conversions from a market you hoped to dominate.
What Black Hat SEO practises will result in punishment?
We’ve outlined five of the most prevalent SEO Black Hat strategies so you and your painstakingly created website won’t be penalised because you unknowingly experimented with some risky practises. No matter how simple they look to execute or how big the benefits appear to be, they should be avoided at all costs.
One of the worst things you can do is to simply be lazy and produce poor content for users. Although it may seem obvious, there are more websites than you’d expect that either doesn’t bother to invest their resources in content or just copy information from other websites. Yes, it might have worked a few years ago, but you can’t get by the system now; you’ll be caught.
Keyword stuffing is a term used to describe when webmasters force their target keyword into the material in a way that makes it seem out of place. The frequency of the keywords must be appropriate for the length of the text and should not be forced in. A common strategy from years ago involved writing the target term around a dozen times and then just changing the font’s colour to match the background!
Stuffing keywords into metadata: Doing so in the metadata is a logical step from overusing words and phrases in the text. When producing metadata, you must begin to consider the vocabulary of terms that surround your target keyword. Put it here and there, sure, but these days, it’s considered amateurish to cram it in at every chance.
Cloaking content is a widely used yet slightly more conceptual method. In content cloaking, a website shows users a video about Y while presenting crawlers another, some source code that claims this page is about X. According to the idea, this has the supposed advantage of helping the site start to rank for additional keywords. Now, if you appear to be using this kind of strategy
Ah, link building, I love you. one of the most often used Black Hat methods. In essence, it entails acquiring your page’s URL on a website that frequently has nothing to do with your site. Although link farms appear to be a fantastic idea, they really don’t bring in a lot of traffic because the sites from which they originate only host links and receive no visitors. These links will be rapidly removed by a Google crawler, and you’ll soon notice a decline in traffic.
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SEO and linking
As we’ll see, linking is a useful technique for achieving a range of online objectives. Websites use links to explain to spiders and crawlers what a single blog post or web page is in relation to the rest of the site. Links provide webmasters with the chance to demonstrate their knowledge of the subjects they are writing about by pointing to pages that are pertinent to their own.
In terms of backlinks, links serve as context and, in a way, a popularity vote. Let’s look at the two basic sorts of links you might have on your site before we discuss link building.
When a user clicks on an internal link, they are directed to another page on your website, such as the home page, a contact page, a page with services, or another blog post. Internal links are an excellent approach to give context and inform Google which sites are the most important. For instance, you might internally link to another site that examines the best dresses for under £500.00 if your blog was about the finest summer dresses under £500.00.
Creators need to utilise pertinent anchor text for internal links to work correctly. The phrase “anchor text” refers to the text that is used to place or anchor the link. In many respects, the link itself is just as significant as the anchor text, and both must be pertinent to one another.
After you’ve launched your website, linking to other significant pages on it helps search engines crawl it more easily and keeps visitors on your site longer. They can hop from page to page while scanning the pages to quickly grasp the context of the website. Additionally, a thorough internal link-building strategy can enhance readers’ usefulness. By clicking on the anchor text and going to another piece of content that discusses something else about the issue, people can obtain more context or knowledge while reading about this particular subject.
External links, also known as outbound links, are those that lead from your domain to an external URL. It might assist to increase the credibility of your website by including links from authoritative, pertinent third-party websites. This is due to the fact that you’ve shown that you are aware of the reliable sources in your area or company. To avoid suffering as a result, avoid linking to spammy or unrelated websites when it comes to outbound links.
In certain cases, external links may be a terrific strategy to promote your website to other websites, who might then return the favour and link to you from their site (called a backlink).
In order to provide material that is well-rounded, internal and external links should be given equal weight.
Optimise those links for SEO
So now we are aware of the two sorts of links—internal and external—that you may influence without needing to seek out. Success in SEO depends on ensuring that these linking strategies are implemented properly. Placing pointless and unrelated links throughout material will have minimal effect.
Segment your pages and concentrate on the ones that are most valuable to you in order to improve your linking strategies. You might want to consider internally connecting all the categories on a huge website so that they are all related and semantically appropriate. The navigation menu might also be linked to those crucial pages, making those connections visible on every page of your website. Just keep in mind that not all sites are created equal.
Second, try to develop content silos that connect to one another. These silos often feature the main topic, which takes the form of a guide or service page, at the top. Then, behind those, are reams and reams of information, such as blogs that cover related subtopics to the primary issue. This type of approach creates link possibilities and provides Google with enough information to crawl through to confirm your expertise. Consider that you are writing a piece on the Premier League. Your primary page would focus on the Premier League, and you would also include a number of secondary articles that examined each team, notable incidents, and trophy winners. Consider all the internal links that may be added to these pages.
Use anchor text between 2 and 20 words whenever you link. By doing this, you increase the set of ontological expressions to which the connection is anchored. Wikipedia is a prime example of how links can span multiple words and have a significant impact. Don’t overlook earlier pages that were published months ago while building an internal link structure; by bringing them up to date with links from more recent pages, you may increase their relevancy.
How to write awesome SEO content
Writing material for SEO is very different from writing other types of content. Even while you must write for the user, it’s crucial to remember that search engine crawlers will also be reading your beautifully produced material. In order to rank for relevant phrases, your writing must follow established SEO best practises in addition to being beautifully written, clever, and entertaining.
It requires balance.
You must first comprehend what you are writing in response to in order to produce content for SEO. Regardless of whether the search ends in a “?” or not, every Google search is a question. It’s up to you to prepare and optimise your content to fit it because two or three words on either side of a keyword can significantly affect its intent. Basically, you want to be the response to the question.
Consider a list of terms related to musical instruments. An immediate search on Ahrefs reveals:
“refurbished musical instruments” (2.5k)
“How to learn a musical instrument” (875)
“Musical instruments near me” (9.1k)
It is obvious that the motivations underlying each of these cases are significantly different. The keyword “refurbished musical instruments” shows that the searcher is ready to buy or knows what they want, and is prepared to part with their money quickly. It is quite direct; there is no need to question what it is or how it works.
The question “how much are musical instruments” is of an informative nature; it is obvious that the asker wants to know how much musical instruments cost and what kinds of pricing or estimates they might anticipate as they conduct more investigation. The phrase “musical instruments near me” denotes that the person posing this “question” is looking for a store close by and is searching for a local expert to assist them. It’s a commercial enquiry, and your aim is to use the strength of local SEO to rank for that phrase.
Even though the fundamental term “musical instrument” appears in all three cases, they are highly dissimilar and call for diverse solutions.
Once you comprehend the term’s meaning, you may start organising your work or reaction in accordance with it. Researching topics before writing is important for SEO marketing since it will help you create content that is credible and authoritative. With each term, you must adopt a distinctive strategy and make a concerted effort to capture the searcher’s interest, meet their needs, and fulfil their intentions.
Having the target keyword in the title and organising your content to give the response in a prominent location on the page are both excellent strategies to demonstrate that you’ve thought about your structure and how to react to the query. Internal and external linking are other great methods.
Another crucial component of SEO authoring is article structure. By segmenting your work using pertinent H1, H2, and H3 tags, you may make it simple for users and crawlers to navigate the website. Users will have an easier time finding the information they need if you start each section with an H2 tag and one H1 tag for your headline. You can produce a more authoritative piece of content if you have a thorough plan since you’ll know in advance which subtopics and enquiries you’ll address. You may easily connect each piece together and prevent wandering.
Writing content for search engine optimization is also all about reaching goals; unless it’s your thing, you’re not doing it for the love of it. You hope to benefit from it in some way. Generally speaking, people either seek to raise the quantity of goods or services they offer, improve the number of leads, enquiries, or signups, or enhance their industry validation. You could have your own, and whatever they are, you should keep them in mind while you write.