Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the vital steps that you need to take so that your business thrives online. 

For website owners alike, search engine optimisation has become increasingly valuable since the CoViD 19 pandemic – people nowadays prefer to purchase products and acquire services online, thereby increasing the demand for online businesses. 

And as the demand grows, the competition grows, too. 

A search engine optimized website can help you stand out amongst the growing sea of ​​competitors in search, and even allow you to become an authority in your niche. 

In this article, you will learn what exactly is SEO and why it’s so important, how it works, how to do SEO on your website, and what to do when you get swamped with SEO-related tasks. 

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search engine optimisation is the process of improving your overall website appearance, structure, content, and performance to rank higher in search engines, such as Google and Bing. 

SEO is an extensive method, and most website owners find it to be pretty exhausting and daunting. However, it contains the nitty-gritty tasks that can make or break your website. 

And an optimized website has more chances to make you money while you sleep than a site that’s not. So, I guess it’s safe to say that SEO, in all its ups and downs, is worth the shot. 

And since it’s a pretty extensive process, let’s break down the definition into its four main methods:

On-page SEO

On-page optimization refers to all the SEO efforts done inside your website, specifically in each of your web pages. 

This includes optimizing the page’s content from the title tag, meta description, headings, images, internal links, and overall performance as a web page. 

Off-page SEO

Off-page optimization refers to all the SEO efforts done outside of your website. Most notably, link building – the process of acquiring “votes” from other relevant websites by linking to your site as a reference. 

It also involves guest posting, public relations efforts, social media marketing, email marketing, and other types of content marketing (see why SEO is extensive now?). 

Technical SEO

Technical search engine optimisation refers to the technical efforts done to make sure that your website works well and gives excellent user experience to your site visitors and search engines “spiders” or “crawlers” alike. 

This commonly entails fixing issues on the backend, developing and speeding up your site, and maintaining an attractive and functional web design.

Local SEO

Local SEO refers to the search engine optimisation efforts that will allow you to appear on top of local search results, especially in map search. 

This includes setting a Google My Business account, submitting information to local directories, and partnering with local and relevant websites. 

Here’s how a local search looks like in Google: 

A screenshot of organic local SEO search results in Google.

Why is search engine optimisation important?

Besides helping you speed past your competitors in the search results, SEO has many other benefits, proving that it plays a vital role in helping you take your online business to the next level, especially when it comes to getting a steady stream of leads and cash flow. 

Here are the four significant benefits of search engine optimisation to your business: 

Increase in Search Visibility

As your ranking gets better in the search engine results pages (SERPs), your online visibility also increases as your target audience sees your brand, gets familiar with your website, reads and shares your content more often. 

Increase in Web Traffic

Now, as your search engines visibility increases, your web traffic will relatively increase, too, especially if you create relevant, useful, and user intention-driven content. 

Let’s define the traffic characteristics that you would want to acquire when doing SEO: 

Organic Traffic (search traffic that you don’t have to pay for, unlike ads)

If you don’t want to break the bank for paying hefty advertisement fees in the search engines, SEO is the way to go. 

It may not be as quick and easy like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, but SEO pays more dividends than paid ads in the long run.

This is because promoted pieces of content can only last as long as you’re paying for the ads while highly-optimized web pages for the search engines will last years without you spending a single penny for each of the pages as time goes by. 

Quantity of Traffic

This is basically an increase in website traffic — the more you rank higher in the search engines, the more people will be interested in clicking on your web pages to see what you have to offer whether it’s a product, service, or a helpful piece of information.  

Quality of Traffic

This refers to the kind of leads or visitors that you get to your website — having lots of organic traffic does not always mean higher chances of sales. 

Remember that you shouldn’t be targeting everyone — your target audience must be genuinely interested in the products or services that you offer. 

For example, let’s say that you have an ecommerce store for smart cameras. Trying to rank for the broad keyword “cameras” might bring you lots of traffic but less conversion because most people might come to your site looking for smart action cameras when really you’re selling security cameras.  

Here’s an example when users type in the broad search term “cameras” in Google: 

A screenshot of Google SEO search results for the search term “cameras.”

A broad search term like the example above might be interesting to target if you have an online store for photography cameras, but it could be a very challenging keyword to rank for. 

Now, here’s how it looks like when a user types in a more specific keyword like “smart security cameras.”

A screenshot of Google search results for the search term “smart security cameras.”

This goes to show that data-driven keyword research — the foundation of excellent SEO — is crucial when creating content for your website.   

Increased Conversions or Sales

When setting up your website, getting higher search engine rankings and more organic traffic should not just be your main priorities. At the end of the day, what will keep your business going is cash flow — an increase in cash flow for that matter. 

So, when you do SEO for your website, you will know that you’re doing the right thing when you see a gradual increase in your site rankings, traffic or leads as well as in conversions or sales.

Increased ROI

Although SEO aims for organic “free” traffic, you might find yourself hiring SEO agencies along the way, because as I mentioned earlier, it is an extensive process, and having an A-team may be more effective and profitable than doing everything on your own. 

Also, the last thing you could wish for is having an inexperienced in-house team that will do more harm than good on the ranking status of your website. 

How do you calculate your SEO ROI, anyway? I’m glad you asked. 

There’s a formula for knowing your return on investment when you decide to hire an agency with SEO services. 

Here’s the simple formula: 

(Profit – Investment) / Investment x 100 = ROI 

Let’s say that you profited a whopping £ 50,000 from your quarterly SEO investment of £ 10,000. Here’s how you compute your ROI:

(£ 50,000 – £ 10,000) / £ 10,000 x 100 = 400% 

Now we’re talking. 

I believe, with a great SEO team, a 400% ROI from SEO would be totally possible.

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How does SEO work?

SEO works relatively to how Google, Bing, and other search engines work — they have “spiders” or “crawlers” that roam around the Internet and gather tons of information from the web. 

These crawlers then bring back the information to the search engines to build an index, which is submitted to an algorithm that matches all the data to the users’ queries. 

This is why when you type in your query or ask your voice assistant; you get the right answers, 99% of the time. 

Now, Google alone gets 3.5 billion queries each day globally, and there are approximately 1.7 billion websites that are online as of July 2020.

Infographic: How Many Websites Are There? | Statista

These numbers keep on growing every second (I’m not even exaggerating, you can look it up).  So, this means that in every online business niche, the competition keeps on growing. 

And the number one method that can help you stand out is search engine optimisation. Let’s take a look at how the leading search engine worldwide, Google, ranks websites generally.  

Common Ranking Factors in Google as a Search Engine:

Take note that Google has over 200 ranking factors, but I’m listing the most common ones that you can work on, especially if you’re only starting to search engine optimize your site. 

  • Site Security (HTTP vs. HTTPS)

  • Mobile-friendliness 

  • Structured Data

  • Content Quality 

  • Content Length 

  • Load Speed 

  • Social Signals 

  • Quality Backlinks 

  • Domain authority 

  • User Experience  

Now, let’s expand on each of these ranking factors by learning more about how to do search engine optimisation.  

How do you do SEO for a website?

For starters, doing SEO typically begins at optimizing the homepage and other essential web pages, such as service pages (for service-based businesses) and category pages to product pages (for product-based companies).  

Here’s how it goes: 

Start with data-driven keyword research. 

A data-driven keyword research is the foundation of every excellent optimization SEO. After all, without keywords to target, your web page creation will be pointless. 

You can start using free research tools, such as Surfer SEO Chrome extension and Google Keyword Planner , or use a more competitive paid tool, such as Ahrefs .  

Pro Tip: When researching keywords to target, it’s highly recommended that you choose the less competitive search terms (those that have low to medium search difficulty) but with relatively high search volume. This way, you can rank faster and better for highly searched keywords without too much friction. 

Here’s an example: 

A screenshot of keyword research.

Then, you can use that primary keyword to choose the secondary or relevant keywords to use throughout your content. 

A screenshot of relevant search terms during a research.

Remember that you need to produce keyword-driven content, but be careful about keyword stuffing as it does more harm than good to your site. 

Plan or improve your site architecture 

Your site structure is one of the crucial elements of your SEO strategy for success — search engines “crawlers” will start indexing your home page down to the very bottom of your site.

This is the reason why having a plain and simple site architecture is highly recommended across all websites regardless of the niche. 

This is also the reason why consulting with SEO experts first before you set up or publish your site can prove invaluable. 

An excellent site structure typically takes a site visitor about 3 to 4 clicks from the home page or the landing page to get to where he or she wants to get. 

Here’s an example of a good site architecture of an online store: 

An illustration of a good site structure.

And here’s a look on a poorly structured site: 

An illustration of a bad site architecture.

Now, if your website has been up for quite some time now and you think that restructuring your website architecture will cost you valuable time and back links, ask your SEO team of experts about 301 redirects — a permanent redirect process that can pass up to 99 % of backlink power. 

Acquire SSL certificate or a TLS

User experience is the focal point of Google’s service, and a secured website helps users protect their sensitive information from the prowling eyes of hackers in the world wide web. 

So, in 2014, Google announced that they would rank secured websites better than those that are not. A secured website is characterized by a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

It looks like this in the address bar or URL of a website: 

A screenshot showing a website with HTTPS.

When you click on the lock icon, it will show you this: 

A screenshot showing info of a secured website.

On the other hand, if a website is not secured, it looks like this: 

A screenshot of a website with only HTTP.

Acquiring an SSL certificate, also known as Secure Sockets Layer, can be done in two ways: 

  1. Through a Certificate Authority .
  2. Through a web host that can integrate SSL and help you configure HTTPS for your site.

Remember that if your website processes payment online, an SSL certificate can prove invaluable, especially when convincing your customers that their financial data will be safe.  

Create high-quality content regularly.  

Another factor that Google has always been eyeing for is high-quality content. Google always wants to give the best to its users — as I mentioned before, good user experience is at the core of its existence. 

What does a high-quality content entail, you ask? 

Here are the common characteristics of excellent web content:  

Keyword-driven 

A keyword-driven content is made in a way that the target keyword and its relevant search terms are used naturally and sprinkled evenly throughout the content. 

Useful, helpful, ultra-relevant, compelling  

A useful, relevant, and compelling content captures the users’ attention starting from the title tag. It gives them what they need or want (whether it’s a quick answer to a query, an in-depth explanation to a subject matter, or a review to a product or service) .

User-driven driven 

A user-driven driven content is strategically created based on what the majority of the target market is looking for — this can be determined by researching the queries that your target audience is asking. 

You can use tools like Answer The Public :

A screenshot of Answer The Public queries.

Or use Google’s People Also Ask section: 

A screenshot of Google's people also ask section in the search results.

Or leverage the SEO search results of the world’s leading search engine — by studying the top organic search results on the search engines, you will know the general user intention of your target audience. 

Typically, a user’s search intention is categorized into four:  

  • Informational (when a user wants to learn more about the topic).
  • Transactional (when a user intends to look for a product or service).
  • Navigational (when a user wants to seek a specific brand, location, or website).
  • Investigational (when a user intends to compare services, brands, or products).  

Use Schema markup 

This refers to the format used to mark up the information on a web page, also known as Schema —this helps the search engines, such as Google and Bing, to understand your page better.

Therefore, if you have structured data on your page, Google can index and rank your web page better. Giving you more chances of ranking with that coveted rich snippet. 

A rich snippet looks like this: 

A screenshot of an SEO search result with a rich snippet.

Back links serve like “votes” on the web — when a website links to your site, it’s like telling the search engines that your web pages provide value and that your site is a reliable source of information. 

However, not all back links are good. Some links you may have to disavow or deny, but that’s a story for another article. 

Now, quality back links come from websites that are relevant to your site, those with a good reputation and higher domain authority. 

Often, when a site that has a higher domain authority than your website, links to your website, the backlink quality is even more valuable.

So, how do I acquire such high-quality back links? I’m glad you asked.   

Getting multiple websites linking to you may seem like a long shot, but it is doable, no matter how long it may take. 

The first thing that you can do is create optimized, ultra-useful, highly-relevant, and evergreen pieces of content that talk about popular or expert matters in your niche.

As soon as those pieces of content start to rank, more and more people will read them and share them; similar bloggers and website owners will then link to your site as a resource.

Besides publishing quality content regularly, you can expand your reach by spending time on guest posting, producing articles for press release partners, and constantly promote your pieces of content through content marketing on email, social media, and online forums.  

Aim for an attractive and intuitive web design

A beautiful yet functional web design boosts good user experience. So, besides making sure that your site is built with strategic website architecture, also make sure that it looks pleasing and easy to use.  

Make sure your website is mobile-responsive

Mobile-friendliness refers to the performance of your website when accessed using mobile devices rather than a desktop computer. Mobile devices include a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. 

This means that your site should have different web designs when accessed from different devices without losing its attractive look and intuitive functions.  

You can check the mobile-responsiveness of your site by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test .

A screenshot of a site's mobile-friendly test.

Take note that the reason why Google made mobile-responsiveness as one of the ranking factors is that it affects user experience substantially. 

Plus, more than half of Google’s global searches come from mobile devices. 

Ensure that your site loads fast 

Did you know that 47% of your regular website customers expect your site to load within 2 seconds or less? 

And 53% of them will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load! 

This goes to show how site speed is incredibly important in user experience, and most importantly, in your website conversions. 

Even Amazon, arguably the largest ecommerce site in the world, found that they are losing over $ 1.6 billion a year for 1 second of slow speed. Indeed, these are largely and painfully disproportionate numbers.   

Anyway, you can check and improve your site’s speed by using Google’s free tool, PageSpeed ​​Insights

The best thing about this tool is that it also shows SEO advice recommendations on how to improve the load speed of your site — coming from the leading search engine and SEO master itself, Google. 

A screenshot of Google's PageSpeed ​​Insights.

Run a regular audit on your website and track your progress 

Every excellent SEO strategy must come with tracking KPIs and other performance metrics to see how far you have come and how much you need to go. 

SEO requires regular monitoring on ranking, organic search traffic, website engagement, conversions, and sales. You can do all these by using Google’s advanced tools, such as the following: 

What’s more, these tools will also give SEO advice or recommendations on how to improve your SEO strategy and efforts so that you can achieve more desirable search engine results.  

What to do when you don’t have time for SEO, or you find search engine optimisation overwhelming.

If you have no time to learn SEO from scratch to become a search engine optimizer yourself, do not hesitate to learn from the SEO experts — they do not run out of invaluable SEO advice.

Now, if you simply do not have the energy and time to do the nitty-gritty tasks that search engine optimization SEO requires, you can always find an SEO agency to do the hard work for you and bring you desirable results for your business. 

At Sortlist, you can find the best agency for your company from a vetted list of agencies that match your business needs and demands. Using the platform is 100% free. 

Do you find this informative article? Feel free to bookmark this post, so you can come back here anytime for more updated information. 

Also, feel free to share this article with a teammate or anyone you know who might need to learn more about search engines and SEO!