What is SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the activities conducted to improve the ranking of a website on search engines results pages. SEO strategies are implemented to enhance a website’s visibility and drive traffic to the site by raising it to the highest possible ranking.

Google, Yahoo and all other major search engines use ever-changing algorithms to determine a ranking of sites that are most relevant to the user. SEO strategies can be implemented to elevate a website’s ranking on these search engine results pages (SERPs). Unlike paid advertisements, being the number one organic result cannot be purchased, but it can be achieved with SEO.

Major search engines do not reveal their algorithms or how to successfully create SEO strategies because it is not in their interest. If users decide that SEO is too complicated, they will revert to the paid system of Google Ads (which contributes significantly to Google’s revenue). However, the best chance at a successful digital marketing campaign is when Google Ads is used in conjunction with SEO.

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Google currently uses hundreds of elements to establish the rankings on the results pages. These factors can be divided into on-page and off-page. Website optimisation tactics can be used to increase organic rankings, which are categorised as on-page factors. The off-page category can be enhanced by employing SEO strategies that occur off the website, which will positively affect the site’s ranking.

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Factors of SEO Rankings

Google uses over 200 factors to determine site rankings, but these can be organised into 9 main groups.

  • Google Algorithm Rules

This ultimately determines the ranking of results for each individual user. Factors such as the user’s search history, location and how updated a site’s content is will affect the order of results.

  • On-Site Spam

The main focus of search engines is to provide users with relevant search results. This means that if you use SEO techniques to optimise your website too much, Google (or other major search engines) may penalise your site. Other factors such as dodgy redirects or links, low-quality content and excessive popups can also result in penalties from search engines.

  • Off-Site Spam

It can be much harder to detect and repair factors that have caused off-site spam. These may have been inadvertently created by a previous SEO agency you used, who formed unusual and unrelated low-quality links to your site. With the help of a seasoned SEO professional, these issues can be corrected and you won’t have to worry about being penalised for off-site spam.

  • Site

One of the most significant ranking elements is site level. Factors that contribute to a successful website include privacy pages, overall structure, architecture, SSL certificate and relevant information pages.

  • Page

Page level factors refer to what is done on-page to optimise your site for search engines. This may involve optimising meta data, the length and quality of your content, page load speed, internal linking and effective use of keywords. SEO strategies that aim to optimise your site will usually begin with the on-page factors.

  • Backlinks

This refers to links that have come from other websites. Google considered backlinks the most significant ranking factor in 2019 as they directly relate to the reliability of your website. If an established and trustworthy site includes a link to your site, that link is highly regarded. However, links from unreliable sites can be very damaging to rankings and they should be rectified immediately.

  • Domain

The level of your domain can be very hard to control and is impacted by its name, history and owner. An effective domain name should include relevant keywords and have a clean history (meaning that it has not been related to spam or other unreliable sites).

  • Branding

 Google combines your brand name with the products you sell to determine the value of your brand as a ranking factor. By forming a brand identity, specific keywords that users search for will be linked to your brand, which will ultimately boost your ranking.

  • User Interaction

This is a very important ranking factor as Google’s main aim is to create a valuable and relevant experience for users. Search engines will consider a website that users click on and leave straight away as less important. On the other hand, Google will interpret that websites with a high number of repeat visitors, a low bounce rate and a high click though rate are more valuable to users. If your user interaction data is found to present high-quality content to users, then your ranking will improve.

As Google is constantly updating their algorithm, which consists of over 200 ranking elements, SEO techniques that may have worked in the past will no longer be relevant. It is crucial that your strategy focuses on various aspects of SEO to ensure your campaign keeps up with the evolving algorithms and remains successful.

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Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

There are two different types of SEO strategies. A black-hat approach refers to tactics that do not follow Google Webmaster Guidelines and generate superficial, short term results. White hat SEO works in-line with the guidelines and has genuine, long-lasting effects.

The aim of black-hat SEO is to trick users into visiting a site by using misleading content to manipulate the search engine’s algorithm.

Black hat SEO methods disregard the rules set out by major search engines and attempt to increase website ranking with deceptive tactics. Examples of these illegitimate methods include invisible text, buying links and stuffing keywords, which can cause the website to be shut down or penalised.

Although black hat tactics used to provide short-term results, Google now changes its algorithm over 500 times yearly, which prevents these strategies from being effective.

White hat SEO strategies abide by the guidelines provided by the search engines. This approach involves prioritising the user by providing them with an authentic experience. Websites that implement white hat SEO strategies aim to attract users that will benefit from their sites rather than tricking them into visiting.

White hat SEO techniques provide the invaluable benefit of directing highly-motivated users straight to your website. The focus on delivering relevant content to users renders white hat methodology effective and long-lasting.

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Find an SEO Professional

Finding a reliable SEO company and beginning a new campaign can seem overwhelming. There is an abundance of information and tools that can help you form a basic understanding of search engine optimisation. The concept of SEO and how it can enhance your business isn’t impossible to comprehend but it requires significant time and determination.

The benefits of a successful SEO strategy will be seen long after it has been implemented. As your website continues to climb higher in the rankings, your business will receive more attention from users and competitors. An SEO professional can help you meet your initial goals and continue to grow your business as it gains more traction.

Green Web Marketing is an SEO agency that works with organisations of all sizes and across every sector. By taking an individualised approach to every campaign that we work on, GWM can help you generate meaningful leads, which result in more conversions. Our devoted experts are committed to elevating the quality of your website and helping your business grow.

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