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What is SEO and how does it work?

Learn the benefits and importance of Search Engine Optimisation.

Whether you are going to create a website or have already created one, you want potential customers to find you online. You can be findable online via SEO. But what is SEO? And how do you make sure you rank high in search engines? You will find out in this article.

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Brief Summary

Glossary

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making changes to a website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engines like Google. This helps increase the amount of traffic and potential customers to the website.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. You make sure your website ranks as high as possible in the search results of Google or another search engine.

These search results are called organic search results and are below the paid ads created through SEA. Organic refers to the free opportunity to generate visibility in search engines.

Fact: the jargon for search results is SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

Why is SEO important?

Suppose you want to search for something on the internet; where does your search start? Right, at a search engine. Millions of other people start their search with this same step. The higher your website ranks in the search results, the higher the chances someone will click on your website and make a purchase, even if someone researches online and comes to your physical shop to buy something.

The benefits of SEO:

  • More reach
    You reach more people than just offline.
  • More traffic
    The more you stand out in search engines, the more traffic will come to your website.
  • More conversion
    If you score on relevant searches, a visitor is more likely to purchase.
  • More authority
    The more you write about a relevant topic that suits your business, the more credible you are.
  • More results
    SEO is a long-term investment. You can benefit from it permanently.
  • Greater insight
    Good SEO provides insight into visitors’ usage behaviour and what they are interested in.

How does SEO work?

How SEO exactly works is a secret only Google knows about. However, we do know 200 factors determine the positions in search results. You can divide these factors into 3 groups, which we will explain below.

1. Technical

The technical SEO of your website needs to be good, so your visitors have a good user experience, making it easier for search engines to index your website. Technical SEO includes:

For beginners, technical SEO can be a challenge. Think about hiring an SEO specialist who will help you improve your website’s technical part.

2. Content

Content is also an essential part of SEO. Examples of content are relevant product pages, informative pages, blog articles, videos, audio and images.

Using keyword research, you can find out what people are searching for in search engines so you can create relevant content for those search queries. For instance, write a blog article on how to bake an apple pie if you sell baking products. Or write a product page about the wireless headphones you offer. You can also make a video with the top 10 best make-up brushes you sell in your online shop.

Tip: Do you want to be more visible in the search results? Use schema markup.

3. Authority

Last but not least, authority is one of the 3 SEO groups. Authority means you make sure you become an expert on what you offer. How the search engine measures your expertise? By looking at how many relevant websites link to your website. The idea behind this is: people share your content if they think it is interesting. Other people may also consider your content interesting, so search engines give you a good ranking in the search results.

You increase your authority with link building, getting links on other relevant websites. Create, for example, interesting and shareable content or write guest articles on other websites.

On-page vs off-page SEO

You may have seen the terms’ on-page SEO’ and ‘off-page SEO’. What are they mean? On-page SEO is all the SEO work you can do on your website. For example, by improving the technical part of your site and writing good content. Off-page SEO is all the work tasks outside your website. Think about link building, collecting customer reviews and maintaining social media.

Local SEO

Do you run, for example, a local restaurant? Or do you organise events in your area? In this and other cases, it makes sense to reach local people through local SEO. Make sure your business scores in search engines on search queries targeted to your business location. For the restaurant example, you want to score on ‘pizza restaurant London’. Or on ‘business outings Edinburgh’ if you organise events. 

To get started with local SEO, you can do the following things:

  • Sign up for Google My Business
  • Collect customer reviews
  • Include contact details on your site, such as name, address and phone number

Black vs white vs grey hat SEO

You can do SEO in a good way and a wrong way. To better explain this to you, we explain black, white, and grey hat SEO.

1. Black hat SEO

In black hat SEO, you use techniques to fool search engines. These techniques do not deliver quality and go against Google’s rules. It does your website more harm than good because nowadays, you get a lower ranking in search results.

Techniques:

  • Using a lot of keywords on a page
  • Showing different content to visitors than to search engines
  • Redirecting users to a page other than the one they clicked on
  • Copying content from other websites and placing it on your site
  • Posting links to your website on spam-like websites

2. White hat SEO

By following search engine guidelines, you ensure white hat SEO. You work on your position in search results in an honest way without engaging in harmful practices.

Make sure:

  • You write valuable content for visitors
  • The content matches the search intent of your target audience
  • You gather valuable links by writing good content on your website or by writing guest articles on other sites

3. Grey hat SEO

Grey hat SEO is a combination of black and white hat SEO. It is a risky area, and search engines can penalise you for it. Grey hat SEO, however, gives you quick wins in the short term.

Prevent:

  • Buying links on other websites
  • Using a lot of keywords on a page
  • Placing spam-like links to your competitors
  • Using automatically generated content but writing it yourself
  • Placing links to your website on spam-like websites.

How to get good SEO?

Now that you know more about SEO, you want to know how to get a good SEO score. The answer is: do an SEO analysis and use SEO tools. Below, we will tell you more about both subjects.

What is an SEO audit?

Analysing your SEO position regularly will give you insights into which parts of your website need improvement to rank higher in search engines.

An SEO audit can look as follows:

  1. Keyword research
    First, it is essential to determine which keywords are important for your business. For which keywords do you want to rank? What are people currently looking for? Please list keywords and link (new) pages to them.
  2. Website
    Check the content on your website. Which keywords are you using? Did you use those keywords in titles, headlines, texts and meta descriptions? Have you created relevant, compelling and informative content for your target audience?
  3. Competition
    Also, look at what your competitors are doing. How have they built pages? Which keywords are they using for pages you still need to rank on?
  4. Technique
    Check how your site’s technique is doing. How fast does your website load? Which components make your website slow? Is your site responsive on mobile devices?
  5. Backlinks
    Analyse which websites link to your site. Are the links still correct, or do they link to deleted pages? On which websites can you place a potential link?
  6. Report
    Finally, create a plan for which parts of your website need an update and how you will do it.

What is an SEO tool?

You can do an SEO audit via one or more SEO tools. An SEO tool is a software programme that helps you improve your website for search engines. Each tool has functions, for example, a keyword planner, audit tool or backlink tracker. Below are some useful tools:

  1. Google Search Console
    Google Search Console gives you insight into how Google indexes your website and which errors occur. In addition, you can see how many people click on a specific page in Google and how often it has been shown in the results.
  2. Google Analytics
    Google Analytics gives you insight into your website’s statistics and how visitors are using your website. Among other things, you will discover which pages are visited a lot, via which platform people visit your site and how long they stay on a page.
  3. Google Trends
    Via Google Trends, you can analyse which keywords are popular in a country, language, region and period. You can use trends by creating pages for specific keywords.
  4. Screaming frog
    Screaming frog is a technical SEO tool that, among other things, looks at whether there are broken links on your website, which meta descriptions are too long and whether there is duplicate content on your site.
  5. Answer The Public
    Through Answer The Public, you discover what people search for in search engines. The tool allows you to create content that responds to these search queries.
  6. Marketgoo
    When you use Marketgoo, you receive an SEO report and plan that will give you insight into your current SEO results and which areas need improvement. In addition, you can keep an eye on competitors’ performance and act on it if necessary. It is a helpful tool you can get started without technical knowledge.

Want to use Marketgoo, and are you not yet a customer of one.com? The SEO tool is included in our web hosting plan Guru. Are you a customer of ours? Marketgoo is available via your personal Control Panel.

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How much does SEO cost?

SEO costs vary depending on your level of knowledge, goals and website size. You can often get started with SEO tools for free, but you will soon be stuck in several things. If you do not know SEO (yet) or have no technical experience, you must learn it first. And understanding SEO costs person-hours when you might be better off spending your time on the things you are good at. In addition, free tools are often limited to a few functions. Do you want to use more functions? You usually have to pay. So sometimes, it is wise to hire an SEO specialist.

Why hire an SEO specialist?

An SEO specialist ensures your website is optimised for search engines. Hiring an SEO specialist usually costs tens to hundreds of euros per hour. It sounds like a lot, but be aware SEO is a long-term investment. It gives you better online visibility and more visitors and purchases for your business.

Conclusion

In this article, you have read what SEO is and how to get good search engine rankings. SEO is an ongoing process and requires time and attention. However, you will enjoy the benefits over time if you do it right. Good luck!

The critical aspects of good search engine optimisation are: producing high-quality content, content optimisation, keyword research, and finally, building backlinks. And the most significant element these aspects can help you achieve is increased traffic to your website at no cost; free traffic.