SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and has become increasingly important in digital marketing. There are an increasing number of jobs in SEO for graduates and it’s also can be an important aspect of marketing and web design job. Our guide gives you the basics.
What is SEO?
SEO is the name given to any activity which attempts to improve a website’s rankings on a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. In search results, the search engine ranks webpages based on their relevance to the term searched and the page’s authority. Authority is largely based on how many external websites are linking to a specific webpage and the website as a whole - known as backlinks.
Also, the search engine will monitor how many people click through to a page after a particular term is searched and how long they spend on the page. This can be seen as a measure of quality as well as relevance.
Google and other search engines have ‘bots’ which crawl the whole internet every day. They don’t just crawl the content which is displayed on a website, but also look at the labels a company has given to webpages and images. This is called metadata. You can’t see this as a user on the page itself, but Google pulls this through on their search results and also uses it to understand what the page is about. Below the meta title (in blue) and the meta description (in grey) should be optimised with key terms relevant to the landing page – ‘Asics running shoes’ is the search term in this example.
To clarify, SEO is only activity which improves the organic (or unpaid) visibility of a website. On Google, you’ll notice that in many searches the top two to four results have the word ‘ad’ next to them in green (see above). The company has paid for its webpage to be at the top of the search results - this is completely different from SEO.
Therefore, in very simple terms, these are three things you should be thinking about when optimising a webpage and a whole website to boost your ranking in search results.
- Excellent content - When someone does click on your webpage, give them content which makes them want to stay on it and also click to other parts of the website
- Backlinks - Try to get other websites to link to your webpages. But remember it’s quality over quantity. A backlink from the BBC news website is significantly better than getting a backlink from a blog which only 100 people visit each month
- Label your website correctly - make sure you are using the words and phrases you want to be ranked highly for throughout the content on the website but also behind the scenes in the metadata
Why do you need SEO skills?
Having at least a basic knowledge of SEO is becoming increasingly important in marketing and web design. Digital marketing is becoming a lucrative profession and being able to optimise a website to boost search engine rankings is a key skill to have when working in this industry.
It’s a relativity new industry but many SEO companies are currently the fastest growing in London across all industries. They offer a consultancy style service to help global and smaller companies rank higher on search engines.
How do I learn more?
It isn’t taught in secondary or higher education, unless you do a marketing related degree - and even then you’ll probably just touch on it. SEO can be quite daunting to begin with but it’s simpler than you think once you get a handle of some key terms, ideas and processes.
Many companies use tools like MOZ to track their SEO performance - see their guide for beginners Other than that searching on Google and watching YouTube videos will help build your understanding. There’s a lot of information out there and it’s not an exact science, so it’s worth reading around the subject to get a broad view.
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