What Is Search Engine Optimisation?

We've recently changed our approach to improving the success of our customers' websites, moving to a broader online marketing service that targets more quality traffic and conversions rather than just trying to improve search engine rankings.

SEO is still plays a big part for many of the sites we manage but it's important to remember that other online marketing methods might be more fruitful, bringing in a bigger return on your investment – whether that's your own time or the money you're paying a company like us. Search engines are also notoriously secretive about their methods which means the 'rules' of SEO are constantly changing, and often these are only discovered through a system of trial and error and conjecture anyway.

Despite search engine optimisation having been on the scene for many years now we are still often asked exactly what it is. There's no hard and fast answer but hopefully the following will help make things a bit clearer.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO as it is widely referred to, is a broad term for a number of activities that will help strengthen your website's popularity and therefore improve its position in search engine rankings.

Search engine traffic accounts for billions of sales in the UK alone and the industry of optimising websites for search engines has fast become one of the most talked about and competitive in the web design world. As a business owner or manager responsible for a website you need to make considerable efforts to stay ahead of your competition in this sector.

Your website, no matter which industry you operate in, will generally be found by prospective customers using a range of keywords. Keywords are specific words or phrases that apply to your products or services, for example in the web design industry typical keywords would be 'website design', 'web development' and 'web designer'. The number of keywords your site falls under is not restricted and the keywords you focus on can be further broken up into subsets including plurals and regional terms. Search engine optimisation looks at how well you rank in search engines for your chosen keywords and then considers ways to improve your visibility under these terms.

Improving the search engine rankings for your keyword list is achieved using a number of methods. These focus on specific areas of your website, taking into account internal and external factors such as the quality of links to your website and the content of your pages.

Many different types of media are used to increase awareness of your website and much care should be taken to ensure that any sites linking to you are of a high quality. Typical activities thought to aid search engine optimisation in the past have included interaction on social media sites, making worthwhile comments about relevant topics in blogs and forums, posting demonstration or educational videos to sites like YouTube and adding your website to online directories so that customers can easily find your products and services (though please be aware that not all of these will have a beneficial effect today).

Internal factors that affect how well your website is received include the quality of your website content and the way your products and services are presented to the public. Elements such as high quality images, fast load times and well-written content all affect how well your website performs.

It must be been noted that the factors search engines like Google take into account when evaluating your position in their rankings change frequently. Search engine algorithms are not released to the public so in many ways SEO is a system of trial and error, and what may work well one month may not necessarily achieve results the next.

Search engine experts are always trying to stay one step ahead of the game and, based on their experience, will find the best way to promote your website through the search engine rankings on all of the top search engines. It can take considerable effort to create the number of advantageous link sources and quality content required to allow a site to achieve the best possible search engine results so it is always recommended that you hand the responsibility of increasing your search engine traffic to an experienced company with a proven record of results.

Like all aspects of business, hard-work and determination can go a long way when it comes to SEO and your willingness to invest in such a service could make the difference between an online presence and online success.

Alison Chaffey

By Alison Chaffey

Alison is Ballyhoo's Office Manager, responsible for keeping the business running smoothly and moving towards bigger and brighter things.