What is SEO?
Here’s my attempt at a jargon free technical definition: SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. It is the process of getting traffic to your website for ”free”, ”organically”, or ”naturally” through the search results on search engines. By far the most popular search engine in the world is Google.
Okay, so basically all the major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results that display after you type in some keywords. For example, ”where is the best place to play golf near marbella” – the search engine will display the most relevant answers to this question. You will see what we call ”local listings”, below that you will see web pages, or other content such as videos. You see everything the search engine considers most relevant to you the user or browser.
This is referred to as ”organic rankings”, meaning payment of any kind isn’t involved as it would be with paid search ads. Organic rankings are considered the Holy Grail of SEO and to business owners large or small it is the most desired result they can ever ask for.
Here’s my personal definition of SEO: It’s a magical kingdom on a beautiful island surrounded by unicorns, who look innocent enough because they’re unicorns. But, after working tirelessly for months to finally find this island, and you’re literally only a few feet away, you think maybe the gates will open. But that’s when you discover the unicorns actually work for Satan and come at you with horns blazing and fangs dangling.
A little too dramatic you think? Maybe, but honestly, that’s the way I felt for many years working in this industry.
Here’s why – SEO has a very tainted history. In only the past few years, we’ve seen every manner of snake oil salesperson arriving in villages with a wagon full of ‘’magical tools’’ promising the towns folks the first page of Google. These snake oil salespeople packaged SEO in such a way, promising to deliver the number one spot on Google within a few weeks and even more shockingly, even within a few hours.
But the worst part is, not long ago there were in fact several questionable ways of making this happen. The evil SEOs of old, pulled apart the red curtains on the back of their wagons, revealing what was actually ‘’black voodoo’’ magical tools used for things like backlinking, keyword stuffing, code manipulation and many other evil tactics used only to fool search engines like Google.
But then the Google woke up, and it was angry.
In its anger, Google changed everything. It changed the rules for SEOs across the lands. Instead of ranking well by using dark magic or black hat tactics, those sites were punished instead, or to use today’s modern term, penalized by the Google. Some companies and small businesses woke one fateful morning only to discover their websites had been banished from the kingdom, in other words, their website completely removed from Google’s index.
The New Adventures of SEO
Since the awakening, there have been major shifts within the SEO industry and today the world of SEO is a completely different place. Today in my world, SEO is forever changing, forever evolving and SEO cannot be seen and it’s incredibly difficult to quantify. But there is good news, it can at least be implemented properly by following rules and guidelines set forth by the Search Engine Gods, and it can be measured through analytics and other advanced software’s that help us determine who, what, where and when.
But it’s the Google facts you really need to pay close attention to…and some of these numbers will blow your mind:
- Google gets almost 70% percent of the search engine traffic on the web. This is why I will always say Google even though there are other search engines out there. It’s not that I am ignoring Bing or Yahoo, it’s just that they’re not as cool as Google…or big for that matter.
- On average, Google changes its algorithm more than once a day, last count was around 40. That’s pretty much 500 times a year. You want a better perspective? Imagine doing something or anything 499 times this year. Just remember that Google changes its algorithm more than that. But every time this happens, as an SEO specialist, I feel it. Sometimes the changes are major and sometimes we barely notice. But, either way, a big part of SEO is ensuring your website makes the grade—basically staying in line with Google’s ranking criteria.
- Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
Now, to get more serious about what SEO really means today, in 2017, I’ve personally split it into sections. This helps me distinguish where I can help my clients, and I can provide better answers to all their questions.
#1 – Technical Onsite SEO
In my packages, I offer a “one off” deal for onsite Search Engine Optimisation. Basically this deals with all the technical attributes you find in the back end of your website. Particularly to all of your webpages. Take a look at your website right now if you have one, if you don’t, just find your favourite website to look at.
Check out the menu or navigation area – for example, Home Page, About Us page, Events Page and so on. In the back office or back end of your website, I apply meta data to optimize all those pages. Technical SEO can mean anything from the keyword research that needs to be done, to a competitor analysis where I can steal all of their information, even improving on page load times making your site a lot faster. Then there is even more crazy jargon like applying micro formatting, or validating mark-ups and more wonderful geeky jargon…but I’m sure you’ve already had enough.
The point is, technical onsite SEO must be applied to your site to make it compliant with Google and more importantly so you get found within Google’s search engine result pages. I even manually submit your newly optimized website to Google and thousands of other search engines across the web.
But let me be perfectly clear – this is only the beginning. Once the technical onsite SEO changes or improvements are applied, Google doesn’t just keep awarding your site points. Even though these updates are important and are included in important ranking factors, the technical SEO work is really only just the beginning.
#2 – Creatives, Content and Video…Oh my!
By far this is the most important part of a good SEO strategy. I pretty much lump this part into the spectrum of online marketing in general. In my packages they are separated into Graphic Designs, which includes infographics, branded images, landing pages and more. Another pack is referred to as Digital Marketing, which includes blog writing, article writing, content for individual web pages, content for landing pages and yes, a lot more.
Finally, you can lump video marketing into this category as well. We all know that video marketing is a must have in your marketing strategy. Considering how incredibly popular videos are on Facebook, Instagram and directly on your website. YouTube, Vimeo and plenty of other multimedia platforms are there to help you get exposure.
#3 – Social Signals
You just can’t have one without the other. SEO and Social Media are like two pees in a pod, if you eat up just one and throw out the other, you’re not getting anywhere online. You need a social presence today because everyone and their dog is online. Even Facebook has its very own algorithm now – this is because of its search feature as well. You can actually decline in rankings on Facebook, which means disappearing from people’s feeds if you’re not careful.
More so, don’t forget that your social profiles also rank in Google. People today are a lot smarter than they used to be thanks to social media. Therefore, they are researching who or what you are. You want them to find your social profiles, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with picking up some new fans. A social media marketing plan is needed along with good management and more.
#4 – Testing, Metrics, Analytics and Reporting
Finally, we have to cover the reporting. We have to analyze all that data to see what we are doing right or wrong. This is where we discover the who, what, where and why. Testing is another big area of SEO and believe me when I tell you, you need it. You need to understand your customers. You need to know who they are…who exactly they are!
Making the initial investment may be hard but the end results can be incredible – I’m not just talking about exposure, fans or rankings, I’m also saying you can make a lot of money selling your product or service.
But those damn Unicorns
You know what, they’re always there…circling, waiting and hungry. You can ask a few of my clients what it’s like to be placed within the top 3 rankings of Google’s first page one day, only to be thrown down to number 9 or worse the second page the very next day. It’s not that us SEO’s are doing anything wrong or being penalized, it’s because the competition can be fierce and if you don’t stay on-top of your SEO strategy or marketing online plan, then eventually you can lose a few important keyword phrases.
All I really want you to take away from this blog is that SEO is super important. That combined with other marketing elements it can serve you in ways you couldn’t imagine. SEO is just a good investment – it’s really that simple.