Whenever people want to find information online, their first port of call is a reputable search engine, like Google, Yahoo! or Bing. These simple, yet extremely powerful websites have the ability to take a search term and return millions of results in a matter of seconds.
The popularity of the world’s largest search engines can be seen in the sheer number of times they are used on a daily basis. According to Internet Live Stats, on average, Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second. That equates to 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide – figures that are almost unfathomable!
It’s easy to see why companies all over the world are so obsessed with getting their business websites ranked highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs) – the pages of results (websites, videos, local listings, etc.) displayed by a search engine when an Internet user conducts a search.
PPC & SEO
In a nutshell, there are two distinct ways in which businesses can get their websites ranked highly (ideally at the top) in the SERPs: pay-per-click (PPC) ads (social media marketing) and search engine optimisation (SEO).The former is referred to as paid search and the latter is referred to as organic search.
As a business owner, it’s also important to understand the potential of PPC, so we’ll produce an additional post focusing on just that.
Unlike PPC, no direct payment to a search engine is required with SEO. However, that isn't to say it’s free – far from it. A solid SEO campaign will certainly represent a significant investment in terms of time and, if you instruct an external entity to do the work for you, money.
So what is SEO?
It’s basically all the things you need to do to get your website ranked highly in the SERPs for the search terms that matter to your business.
The search engines of the world make it their duty to scan every page of every website and catalogue them according to what they find. They use what are known as spiders (or crawlers) to do this, storing the information that’s found in an index.
All of this information is made sense of by something called an algorithm. This highly-complex mathematical formula is what makes search engines tick and sees certain websites ranked above others for specific search queries.
SEO is about satisfying these algorithms by tweaking your website and giving it the best possible chance of ranking (hopefully highly) for certain key phrases.
It’s important to realise that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to SEO and that a variety of SEO techniques and tactics need to be leveraged to make your website as optimised as possible. A solid SEO strategy will incorporate keyword research, content marketing, meta tags, link building, on-page optimisation and many other factors – the main ones of which we’ll cover in subsequent posts.
[Related reading: Choosing the right keywords for your business]