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

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.

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.

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 five listings.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is what makes it happen.

Read on to find what you need to know in our beginner’s guide to SEO and the strategies you should be implementing in your business.

Why you need to pay attention to SEO for organic rankings

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and 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 getting found on search engines.

Search results don’t happen by chance or luck. They’re calculated by complex algorithms and formulas that determine which websites get put at the top of the rankings.

SEO is what helps your business rank higher on search engines by ensuring that your website adheres to these complex algorithms.

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, core elements that these algorithms look out for.

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 core goal. To help users find what they’re looking for.

This means that Google want quality, easy to use and informative websites to be the first thing users see.

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 what you should be implementing on your website.

Any website that is bad for user experience is punished by their algorithms.

That means anything that doesn’t contain unique, useful information. Anything that’s not relevant. Anything that’s confusing or difficult for users to use.

Google doesn’t want them. So, they’ll fail in the rankings.

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 rankings.

Before you jump in – be warned. SEO strategies aren’t a quick fix for your website.

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. So, 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 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.

You can find out more about them in our guide here.

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.

Get to the top the results with paid advertising

Great SEO is important and always worth implementing.

But SEO is a long-term plan. Putting in the hours now won’t give you instant results and put you at the top of the search results straight away.

If you’re competing against thousands of other companies, getting to the top of the search list will feel like an uphill battle that just doesn’t deliver the ROI (Return On Investment) you need.

Or, you can jump the queue with paid advertising.

PPC advertising is how you get your website, right to the top of the search listing instantly. So, you get instant clicks. You get instant results and can start boosting your sales and profits right away.

Ready to get started? We offer a complete ‘done for you’ Google Ads service to get you on the fast track to success.

Getting to know your business, our dedicated team of advertising professionals will create stand out Google Ads that are targeted directly to your customers.

We’ll also send you easy to understand reports, so you can always keep track of your businesses’ growth.

Looking for more tips on how you can improve your ad campaigns? Take a look at our guides and strategies on running successful Google Ads campaigns here.


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 mostly like to find me spinning round on a pole. LinkedIn