SEO basics : How does it work?
SEO refers to various methods that aim at improving the visibility of a website, in search engine results pages, when users are typing keywords related to a specific industry. The main goal is to understand how search engines like Google and Baidu work, in order to improve the webpages. Therefore, they will match search engines criteria and will rank higher.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and aims at getting more traffic from search engines. Internet users use keywords when they are searching and this is a key strategy for brands to have their pages displayed in the top results in order to get more visits.
SEO and SEM – Search Engine Marketing or PPC for Pay Per Click – are two different strategies. While PPC refers to paid links displayed in search results, SEO is free. Brands do not need to pay any search engines to get their pages displayed in the SEO part of the search results.
Why SEO is important for your business?
If you have a website, you probably want to drive more traffic so you can develop your online turnover. There are various way to do it and SEO is one of the most powerful source of traffic because it has a high ROI on a long-term run. Investments are generally lower and results last longer.
Being at the top of the results is extremely important since click-through rates tend to decrease according to the depth of the links in a search engine results page.
Search engines tend to display various types of results (pages, images, videos, maps…) which can influence the click rates but basically, the first SEO result will get twice the traffic than the second one.
Keywords have different search volumes so it is advised to reach the top results for different terms.
According to your strategy and your offer, it can be a good idea to create new pages to target new queries to develop new sources of organic traffic. As you can see, keywords from a single semantic field might have different search volumes. Competition can be lower for some of the keywords.
How search engines work?
Since the goal is to make sure that a website meets search engines criteria, a key step for any SEO company is to understand how search engines work.
There are 5 basic steps to understand when working on SEO projects:
- Crawling process: The first step for any search engine is to scan pages on the web. Google and Baidu will connect your site and crawl the pages to understand the site’s structure and the content. They proceed that way because they need to provide results to queries typed by Internet users.
- Page’s relevancy: Then, they will use algorithms to understand if the pages are relevant. For instance, duplicated pages, pages with thin content, spammy ones can be ignored.
- Indexing step: If the pages are relevant for Internet users, search engines will save them in databases. It means that users can find them in search results when they are typing keywords.
- User’s research: Users will type keywords and they except the search engines to provide them useful pages that will help them filling a need.
- Rankings: At the end, search engines will rank the pages based on various algorithms that will basically take into consideration “on-site” and “off-site” criteria.
How to make a SEO-friendly site?
Search engines use hundreds of signals to rank pages. We use to say that there are three main areas that should be improved in order to make the pages visible in search results.
Various teams will be involved in a SEO project:
- Technical SEO : The goal is to improve the crawl and the indexing processes in order for search engines to scan the right pages, the ones that will target interesting keywords that will drive traffic to the site. If a search engine can’t scan the relevant pages, it can’t index them and users can’t find them. However, irrelevant pages, the ones that won’t be useful as part of the SEO strategy, can be blocked so that search engines will only scan the pages that should create organic traffic.
- Semantic SEO (Content) : Search engines need to understand the content of the pages in order to serve them when users are typing keywords that will match the content available in the site. After having ran a keyword research, a SEO provider will help you to improve the content by including the terms in relevant tags (titles, headings, links, images…).
- Popularity : By developping a powerful online communication, a website will naturally get external links. These links are seen as votes by search engines and are highly taken into consideration to rank the pages. For instance, if a relevant site links Getclicks.com.hk using a link like SEO in Hong Kong, then search engines use this link to understand that the homepage targets this keyword. They will tend to rank the site higher for that term and for the close ones that are part of this semantic field.
What are the goals of SEO?
Here are the main objectives of working on SEO, step by step:
- Improve the rankings: Targeting relevant keywords related to your industry and improving your website will help at improving the rankings of your pages. The more pages you have, the more keywords you can target, the easier it is for users to find you.
- Get more organic traffic: Getting better rankings is great, but getting more quality traffic is better. As said, the more visible the pages are, the more traffic you will get. However, targeted search terms need to by used by users. It happens that brands target specific queries that are not used or queries without a clear intent, which will improve the traffic, but not the conversion.
- Develop the SEO conversions: The ultimate goal of SEO.
- Work on e-reputation: This is a large topic but to explain it in a short way, let’s take an example. It happens that users who are typing “Review + Company’s Name” reach pages with bad comments, which can prevent them to use the company’s services. SEO can help to define a strategy that will aim at creating new content that will surface higher than the pages with bad comments.
A SEO company will help you to understand how people are looking for information, how search engines work and how to make sure that your pages are matching their criteria. I hope that this quick introduction about the basics gives you some insights about how SEO works. Feel free if you have any questions.