What Is Search Engine Optimisation?


Get the lowdown on the internet’s most important marketing tool


SEO, search engine optimisation, search rankings, key word results, web crawling… they’re all big internet buzzwords at the moment – and if you don’t know what they mean, you could be missing out on leads, conversions and a multitude of sales.


So what is search engine optimisation?

Not so long ago, to get your business noticed, all you needed to do was put a listing in your local edition of the Yellow Pages.  But as times have changed, none of us use the Yellow Pages any more – we go straight to the internet when we want to find a business or service.  Research has shown that most people using a search engine will only look at the results that come up on the first page of their search: great news for the first few on the list but not so good if your company comes up on page two, three or beyond.  So how do you ensure that people searching for your service find your company first?  By utilising search engine optimisation.

SEO is a set of techniques that businesses can use to dramatically increase the chances that their company name will come up among the first few when someone searches out their service.  Obviously, the higher up you come in the search results, the more visitors you will have to your website, and so the more enquiries and sales.

How does SEO work?

The large search engines crawl the web looking for pages that match what people are searching for – and new websites often need to be submitted to the search engines to be included in their databases.  The purpose of search engine optimisation is to increase the prominence of your web pages to the search engine crawlers and make sure that your website ranks highly in the most appropriate search results.

There are a number of different ways of doing this, and a combination of measures is generally more effective than doing just one.  These include:

  • Link building and cross linking – linking pages within your own website and including links to other relevant sites are two ways of improving your search ratings.  Web crawlers use the number of incoming links your site has as an indication of the value of its content.
  • Including keywords, ie the words that people type into the search engines, in your content.  These will stand out more if you use them in titles, meta tags, and highlighted in the copy.
  • Update your content frequently as web crawlers prefer new content to old.
  • Unscrupulous SEO methods include using hidden text on web pages and spamming.  If the search engines suspect that these techniques have been used to improve a website’s search rankings, they may penalize the website by reducing their rankings or even banning them from their searches.

As the search engines become more sophisticated, so to do the techniques for search engine optimisation.  For this reason, many businesses who value the extra sales that SEO can provide employ SEO consultants.  These companies thoroughly understand all the ins and outs of search engine optimisation and keep up to date with all the changes the search engines make in their modus operandi, as well as being able to address the issues of international and global SEO.  So if you are operating in a competitive market place, you may find that using an SEO consultant will pay you dividends by keeping you at the top of the rankings.

 (c) SEO+ at http://www.seoplus.co.uk