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What Is SEO And How Does It Work For Organic Search?

January 23, 2019
written by Danielle Strouther
Copywriter

Get your business found on Google and bring more visitors to your website. Boost your success by discovering everything you need to know in this beginner's guide to SEO.

TL;DR

  • Search Engine Optimisation helps your business get found on search engines like Google.
  • Increase your rankings by providing valuable, quality content and a great user expiernce.
  • Google punishes the bad and rewards the good. So build the best wesbite possible for your customers.

There are over 3.5 billion daily searches on Google alone.

We use search engines for nearly everything – including buying online. In fact, 89% of customers use search engines as their starting point for buying anything online.

Organic search even affects the big giants like Amazon, as 18% more shoppers will choose Google to look for their product rather than go directly to the website.

You don’t just need to get ranked on search engines. You need to get your result to the top.

The higher your listing, the more clicks you’ll get. More than that, 67% of web users won’t even go past the fifth listing.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is what makes it happen.

Read on to find out more about SEO, organic search, and the perfect strategies for your business.

What is SEO, what is organic search, and why is it important for your business?

SEO is split into two main categories:

  • On-page SEO – optimising pages to rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and earn more organic traffic. This covers content and internal code (HTML, PHP, and CSS)
  • Off-page SEO – using external factors like link building to gain relevant backlinks from high-authority sites. The aim is the same as on-page – to rank higher in the SERPs.

It’s the “magic” behind organic search.

But why is it called “organic”? There’s nothing free range about a search engine (although Google did once have some goats eat their grass). When we talk about organic search traffic, it basically means search results you don’t pay for. You get paid ads at the top and everything else underneath is organic. Links are ordered based on their relevance to the user’s search query and a hundreds of other top-secret factors. You do a search and you get the list. Easy.

What SEO does is help your business rank higher on search engines and get you more organic traffic.

Don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

You don’t have to understand the technical aspect of how it works. Or every little detail of what’s in these algorithms.

Even if you wanted to – you couldn’t know everything. They’re constantly changing and search engines like Google purposefully keep the inner details of how it works to themselves.

All you have to know is the fundamental ranking factors.

We’ll explain in more detail using Google as an example.

How Google’s search algorithm works

Google’s algorithm is a closely guarded secret. It’s always adapting, with around 500-600 changes being made to it every single year.

It uses over 200 factors to determine its rankings. All of which can be boiled down to one simple thing: user experience (UX).

Why? Because Google has one main goal: to help users find what they’re looking for.

E-A-T

This means that Google wants expert, authoritative, and trustworthy websites. Those aren’t random words I’ve chosen – it’s literally what Google requires. The company has Quality Rater Guidelines which are used to assign quality scores to search results for certain queries (not to be confused with Google Ads Quality Score).

Within it, they have a guideline known as E-A-T, which stands for:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

Any website that’s relevant to the keywords, that’s trusted by other users, and gives valuable information will always be ranked highly. It’s exactly what their users are searching for after all.

This is good SEO – and E-A-T is what you should be implementing on your website.

UX is also important

Any website that is bad for UX (user experience) is punished with lower organic rankings.

That includes:

  • Poor navigation
  • Slow page load speed
  • Poor internal linking
  • Inadquate site architecture

Link SEO with UX and you’re onto a winner.

Don’t dupe!

You also need to create unique, useful content to serve the user. Anything that’s not relevant or is duplicated will get you penalised. You mustn’t confuse or delude users.

Google doesn’t want it and the penalties can be catastrophic.

Fundamentally, Google rewards the good and punishes the bad.

That’s the reason why they write ‘Don’t be evil’ in their corporate code of conduct.

How to not be evil: the SEO strategies that help organic traffic

Now you understand the core aspect of good SEO (don’t be evil, or black hat as it’s known in the industry), it’s time to put it into practice with SEO strategies that will get your website up through the organic rankings.

Before you jump in – be warned. SEO strategies aren’t a quick fix for your website. Strategies need testing before they can be considered viable.

It can take months, even years to really see the impact of an SEO campaign, depending on your industry and how much competition you’re facing. Don’t expect to see instant results.

That being said, let’s get started with five top ways to improve your SEO.

What is SEO - 10 categories that answer the question

1.   Write for your customers, not the SERPs

The most important thing you can do is focus on making a useful, quality website.

Write for your customers, not for SEO.

Answer their questions. Make something that’s easy for them to use. And, make sure it’s relevant and what they’re actually searching for.

The better the user experience and the more relevant your website is, the more you’ll be rewarded. So, doing this will naturally improve your SEO and rankings.

2.   Make your websites mobile-friendly

Google uses mobile-first indexing for their search algorithms.

This means that they’ll look at the mobile version of your site first when calculating your rankings.

So, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Ensure it’s responsive, so it looks good and adapts to whatever device you’re viewing it on.

This isn’t just important for good SEO, but for your customers too.

We spend 59% of our time on mobile phones. So, it’s more than likely that your visitors will be finding your website on a mobile device. If it’s not mobile-friendly, they’re likely to go elsewhere.

It profits to make your website mobile-friendly.

In fact, 62% of companies that designed a mobile-specific website increased their sales. We’d say that’s worth investing in.

3.   Say goodbye to slow websites

Website speed is a key factor to good SEO.

It all plays back into offering great user experiences. People just aren’t prepared to wait anymore. They want instant results that load straight away. And they’re not prepared to wait.

If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will leave. What’s more, 80% of those will never return.

Even a small 1-second delay in page load time can bring a 7% loss in conversions.

4.   Create good content

A big SEO element is new, unique content.

An easy way to do this is keeping your website updated with a blog.

Keep publishing new things – but don’t just copy your competitors. Write original content with useful information that your customers will actually want to read.

Blogs are also a good way to target the keywords you want to rank for. But, don’t just go popular, short keywords. Make sure you target longtail keywords.

Longtail keywords are made up of 4 or more keywords and make up 70% of all online searches.

Generally, they’re more specific and face less competition than other keywords. Which is great news for your SEO and getting your website up the search rankings.

They also convert better.

What is SEO? It's nothing without content

Content by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 (Alpha Stock Images)

This is because your customers are usually later in their buying journey. Let’s say, for example, you have a bakery. People who are using keywords like “cake” are probably just browsing. But someone who searches for the long-tail keyword “custom chocolate cakes for a party” is ready to buy.

Whatever keywords you target – never let your content go to waste.

Don’t just let it sit on your website. Put it on your social media profiles. Get it shared and out there. There’s more than one way to build awareness of your company after all.

It’s also important to write content with search intent in mind. Google likes to prioritise types of content for certain search terms. These are split into four categories:

  • Informational – Question-based, mostly blog posts (like “What is SEO?”)
  • Navigational – Usually branded articles (like “Adzooma blog”)
  • Commercial – Lists or reviews of the best product or comparison pages (like “The best SEO tools in 2019”)
  • Transactional – Product or service-specific with call to action words (like “start your free trial”)

Before you start writing, do a quick search for your targeted keyword and see what kinds of results you get. Then you can tailor your article and make it SEO-ready.

5.   Link building is your friend

Despite what some SEOs say, link building is great for your organic strategy.

This is where, in your content, you link to another website or page.

Don’t just link to anything though. Make sure that the links are relevant and trusted. Otherwise, your website might get associated with untrustworthy sources, which can damage your rankings.

Links work two ways. You can also get other sites to link to you.

This can get more visitors directly to your site. But more than that, it also helps your SEO, builds great relationships with others in your industry and makes your company stand out as leaders. It’s truly a win-win.

If you look back through this blog, you’ll notice us doing this exact same thing. It’s that simple.

Author
Danielle Strouther

Currently writing lots of words about all kinds of unique subjects at Adzooma and searching for a word I like more than discombobulated. I have a masters in Film and Television, so I can tell people I know what’s good on Netflix. Outside of copy and away from a screen, you’re most likely to find me spinning round on a pole.
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