SEO 101 – What is SEO and why do I need an SEO specialist?

I often get asked: “Does my website need Search Engine Optimisation? I have a small company, isn’t that something for big companies with big budgets? To answer this question it is important to understand what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is.

So let’s take a step back and explain what happens when you do a search in Google, or any other search engine for that matter. Seeing that in 2014 Google owned 68% of the market share, it is fair to say that if you cater to their needs you are pretty safe that you will do well in other search engines too.

When you type a search in Google, you give the search engine an instruction to show you all the websites that are relevant to that search, in the order of importance. In other words, Google looks at the words you typed – called search terms – then looks at it’s own index of sites to see which sites relate to your search.

How does Google know which websites are related to your search? Search engines (like Google) have little programs called bots or spiders that crawl the internet looking for new websites or new content. These spiders have very complicated algorithms that are used to decipher your website. This tells them what your website is about and how it should be indexed. Indexing is simply adding your site to their directory under the relevant keywords.

There are very strict rules that websites have to adhere to. These are all “behind the scenes” rules that if you don’t comply with, you get penalised in the form of a bad SERP (Search Engine Result Page) listing – more on this later. In extreme cases your site can even be banned. Sometimes you can unknowingly do things that can cause penalties, like using wrong tags, not using certain tags, duplication of content, or even over optimising that can be seen as keyword stuffing. At the very least your content could be structured so that the bots just get it wrong. They might think your site is all about selling cars when really it is about servicing all automobiles. This means that because of content that is structured incorrectly through use of incorrect keywords or even the right keywords in the wrong places, no one will ever find you when they search for a place to fix their motorbike!

Why is it so important to have a good SERP listing? Google released statistics in 2014 that state on average, 71.33% of searches resulted in a page one Google organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. That means 71.33% of people doing a Google search will not even look at the second page of the results. On the first page alone, the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%. What does that mean for you and me? Your website has to feature on the first page of a search result, preferably one of the first 5 organic results on the page.

Now you might be asking what is an organic result? The results after the paid for ads is called the organic results. In other words, the websites listed because of their relevance to the search terms…yes, because of good SEO! So in a nutshell: a good SEO specialist will do market research to find the keywords that will get you the best search result, they will only use white hat methods that won’t cause you penalties, they will track the progress of your website traffic and adapt the strategy as needed and most important of all….they will never ever guarantee to get your website in the first three results within 30 days or what ever the latest scam promises. There is just no way of guaranteeing that using above board methods that will give you good long term results with a great click through rate.

In the next post I will talk more about the click through rate and why you can’t only focus on a good SERP listing.

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