Search Engine Marketing: Understanding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

“My recommendation for SEO is very simple. It’s Write Good Stuff. In my mind, Google is in the business of finding good stuff. It has thousands of the smartest people in the world, spending billions of dollars to find the good stuff. All you have to do is write the good stuff; you don’t need to trick it.” – Guy Kawasaki


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of getting your website listed on search engines without paying for Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts.  If PPC is the hare, letting you pay to jump to the top of the results, then SEO is definitely the tortoise.  It is slow, requires consistent effort and will take many months, even years, to get results – BUT, the results are FREE for those who get it right!

To keep the analogy going, it’s also a race where at any time the finishing line can be moved.  Early in 2016, Google brought about what many considered to be the death of Search Engine Optimisation by increasing the number of paid-for listings that appear at the top of the results for ‘commercial’ searches, pushing the organic (or not paid-for) results into a place that is not visible for most users without scrolling down the page.

This isn’t the first time that Google have moved the goalposts, and certainly won’t be the last.  Back in the early days of the Internet, Search Engine Optimisation companies would set up vast ‘link farms’, auto-generating thousands of links back to a client’s website to try and trick the search engines into believing it was popular.  Do this now, and Google will simply blacklist you from their search results entirely.

Let’s take a look at some more detail:

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Now, the days where you could ‘game’ Google are long gone.  In fact, if Google suspects you of even trying to cheat it will actively down-rank your site.  Methods that seem to give you a short-term gain today may well obliterate your website tomorrow when Google next updates its algorithm.

So what does make good SEO now? It breaks down into two areas: onsite SEO (the things you can control on your own website) and offsite SEO (other websites linking back to you):

Onsite Search Engine Optimisation

There is plenty you can do when you build your website to make it search engine friendly.  WordPress plug-ins like Yoast can give you access to the code of each web page so that you can see how attractive your page titles and content are for the specific keywords you are targeting.

In the past, Google used to rely on what are called ‘meta tags’ which tell a search engine what a webpage is about.  However, using these meta tags for keywords today can actively harm your ranking; Google’s web-crawling bots are clever enough to work out what a site is about themselves and don’t appreciate you trying to influence them!

Instead, Google loves high-quality, original, frequently-updated content on your website.  If a site is constantly pumping out good quality articles and information that Google isn’t seeing anywhere else on the web, then it knows that you are worthwhile sending people to.  The best SEO plan you can employ is a long-term strategy of writing and delivering good content around the topics you want your site to be listed for on search engines.

Offsite Search Engine Optimisation

Although ‘link farming’ is now the quickest way to get you blacklisted by Google – gaining high-quality links back to your site is still a big factor in getting search engines to take notice of you.

If an authority in your marketplace (or the leading trade body for your industry) links to something on your site from theirs then this is a big indicator to Google that you yourself are authoritative.  Links from other online platforms that you control (such as LinkedIn, social media or forums) also have some weight, but not as much as links from other good-quality websites in your industry.  Again, this comes back to having quality content on your website – if you produce something worthwhile, other people are more likely to link to it.

Remember that Google is unquestionably the market leader for search traffic in Yorkshire so you would be mad to ignore it.  For more advice and information on the subject of organic SEO, please read our article: SEO techniques that have worked since the start of Google

Get expert advice when looking at SEO, it can be an expensive lesson if done wrong and the more you understand, the more complicated it all becomes.

Search Engine Optimisation thinking from Yorkshire Powerhouse

Guides within this section

SEO Techniques

Guide:SEO techniques that have worked since the start of Google

Google Keyword Tool

Guide:How to measure online search volumes using the Google Keyword Tool

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