What Is SEO? The Non-Technical Version

Here is a lay man's version of SEO, how to build an SEO strategy, and do's and don'ts on making your content SEO friendly.

10th January, 2021

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8 min read

What Is SEO? The Non-Technical Version

Regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur wanting to build a new website for you brand or a marketing person aiming to write informative blogs, SEO is a term you cannot ignore.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) initially gained popularity in the 1990s. At the time, there were no rules pertaining to SEO. Website builders would potentially use word stuffing, excessive use of backlinks (read on to understand these terms better), and any other means of gaining momentum in ranking. Soon after Google came into the picture and it became a monopoly in the search engine market, SEO soon became to be known as a term related to Google rankings.

Thereafter, guidelines were setup to ensure rankings were fair and solely dependent on numerical analysis. This guide aims to give you an insight into the hype around SEO. Read on to get a feel of why you need to start looking into building SEO friendly content.

What is SEO?

I like to define SEO as a term that defines a process. The process of increasing your website or landing pages' visibility online when searching for it using a search engine. More often than not, this visibility comes from a deep, numerical analysis of what keywords people are using to look for content you have generated.

For example, you want to build your personal blog on reviewing Australia's best beaches. As you write your blogs, you use the names of the beaches (Eg: Bondi Beach, Byron Bay). However, people who are searching for content on Australia's best beaches might not necessarily know these names. In this case, they might simply be googling the term "beaches in Australia", or something more generic like "places to see in Australia". Now, while your blog in itself reads very well, it might not rank on Google's 1st page. This would mean that very few people (those who have the patience to visit pages 2 to infinity) would be coming across your content.

Essentially, SEO has two main objectives - to give you an insight into what your target audience is looking for and to help you use those keywords to build your platform, website or landing page so you can rank higher on search engines. Thanks to Google results encapsulating the entire internet, being SEO friendly on all platforms is important.

Why is it so hyped up?

The main reason companies and marketing teams hype up SEO tools, use of keywords, and SEO marketing is to ensure they get their targeted audience from search engines to engage with their content. Now, imagine everyone on who produces content on the internet is invested in doing this. Competition to be ranked is high and can drive up the difficult in ranking for a keyword.

This is why it is important to focus on SEO, understand it's in and outs and find smart keyword with high search volume and low ranking difficulty. If you are still not convinced, here are 6 reasons why SEO is and should be hyped up.

  • Your readers need answers and need them to be on the first page of Google. Think about your personal experience, when you search for things online, aren't you more likely to click on the first few search results before searching again. This is the case for almost all search engine users. If users are not clicking on page 2 of search results then there is no point of having your content featured there.

  • SEO allows you to organically rank for content. SEO focused content which gets high ranking features is said to be doing well organically. The other end of the spectrum is to pay for content to be featured on the top of Google. This is seen in the form of sponsored ads on the top of the first organic result.

  • SEO builds credibility for your website. When your content reflects the knowledge you have on a subject plus the right use of keywords, it shows that people can trust your website to give them accurate information.

  • It doesn't cost a thing. SEO is a free and reliable method of increasing traffic and engagement. Having to pay for ads and clicks on your website is a tricky play in marketing. A good ROI for paid ads is hard to guarantee and in many cases requires the input of a lot more resources on your part.

  • When you are improving your SEO game, you are also subsequently improving your user experience. Google is more likely to pick your content to be featured on the first page only if it thinks that the UX and content of your website or landing page is enough to satisfy the search engine users. This would push website builders to build essentially the most user friendly websites.

  • As I mentioned, SEO is dependent on numerical analysis. However, that does not mean that one needs to conduct this analysis on their own. There are tons of SEO tools and keyword finders that can help you find the keywords that have a high search volume. For more in-depth analysis (especially for young companies or new online brands), an SEO agency can help curate a list of keywords along with helping you understand where your competitors rank.

How to make use of it?

Yes. Yes, you need to hype up SEO for all it's worth. In fact, most marketing teams need to be make SEO a top priority if they want to see ranking as a long term strategy. Before you build a SEO strategy for your brand, you first need to understand some do's and don'ts for SEO best practices.

DO'S:

  • Make a list of keywords you want to rank for. Gain an understanding of what search difficulties work for you and what don't. The search difficulty of a keyword is a number between 1-100 that tells how hard it is to rank for that particular keyword. If you just published your website, try and go for a search difficulty of 40 or lower. If you have an established website and a high authority on Google, try and go for higher ranks. As you build your authority, the easier it is to rank for more difficult words.

  • Focus on your meta description and meta title. Include your main keyword in these search phrases. You will notice when you search for a keyword, that if it is in your meta title or description, it will show up in bold in the results.

  • Link back to relevant articles. Keep these links to an optimum number without it feeling spammy. Recent studies have proven that linking to relevant websites can boost your SEO.

  • Do optimise your images and videos for SEO. Including keywords in your alt text when using image and videos so that Google can pick those up too. These images will likely rank higher on Google images.

  • Focus on local or worldwide SEO. Local SEO is relevant only to your region. Let's go back to my example in the beginning. "Best beaches in Australia" will have different rankings and search difficulty in the local SEO (the region of Australia) vs. worldwide. If you are writing for people from outside of your local region, make sure to look into worldwide SEO rankings.

DON'TS:

  • Don't stuff your content with keywords. This is called keyword stuffing and Google often rejects your content that are stuffe d.

  • Don't copy and paste. As easy as it is to rephrase content and potentially get the same views as the original, Google is likely to find out and reject your content. If you do want to take some information from another source, make sure to quote and link them. If you want to share your content on different platforms without changing the text entirely, make sure to include a canonical link, which is essentially to say, "this content has been taken from another source, linked here".

  • Link responsibly and genuinely. Using dead end backlinks and backlinking to the same website multiple times can result in your content being at the bottom of Google's search results.

  • Don't worry if your rankings aren't #1 in 2 months or are falling from #1 to #3 within a week. Google keeps updating it's algorithm and your rankings are likely to change often. The best way to deal with it would be to keep an eye on your content and update it when you notice needs for improvement.

Now that you know what to do and what not to do, get started on building a strategy. In order to ramp up your SEO marketing, be sure to first start with deciding what you want your content to be about and what kind of audience you are targeting. Once you have those goals in mind, find an SEO tool or appoint an SEO agency to make an exhaustive list of keywords. Then all you have to do is get started on writing this content to be published on your website with the keywords you picked.

Be sure to constantly improve your content when you get the chance. You can additionally also take up SEO related courses which give you a more technical and in-depth insight into the topic.