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If you’ve been anywhere near the digital marketing world for the past decade or more, you’re bound to have heard of “SEO,” or “Search Engine Optimisation.”
You’re probably aware that the term refers to your ability to boost your website’s rankings for different keywords on internet search engines, thus bringing more potential clients your way.
But what are the fundamentals of SEO? The things you need to wrap your head around before becoming a master of the craft, or even just before taking the plunge and choosing an SEO company to work with?
Here’s a short primer.
It’s all about Google
In days past, there were various competing search engines all with roughly enough power and popularity to make it worth your time to optimise for each one specifically. Some people would even focus on their preferred search engine and simply optimise for it as best they could, and let the rest sort themselves out.
Today, the name of the game has changed, and SEO is more or less a synonym for “getting Google to like your site.” Google is the dominant search engine of our time and by all accounts, it looks set to remain so for the foreseeable future.
What you’re trying to achieve with your SEO efforts is, for all intents and purposes, to please Google’s web ranking algorithm. Any good SEO practice will involve keeping a regular eye on public statements and press releases relating to this. The algorithm isn’t static – it’s edited heavily from time to time, changing the rules of the game significantly.
Keywords are essential
The core of any SEO effort lies in keywords. These are the search terms that you’ll want your website to rank highly for when people enter them into Google. Examples could include “businesses in [my city],” “SEO companies,” etc.
These keywords matter a great deal. Certain search terms are more competitive than others, and some will get so few hits a month as to barely be worth your time.
Luckily, Google have their own keyword research tools to help you identify the best key keywords for your purposes. Always do your homework before choosing a keyword to focus on.
Links are essential
A major factor which Google considers when ranking sites is how “authoritative” and “trusted” those sites are. A large part of how the algorithm determines these things lies in the kind of links embedded in your site, and pointing to your site.
Simply put, if high-trust websites with good rankings link to your site in a way that seems authentic, and if you’re linking to other high-value sites, this helps your rankings.
A note of caution though; you’ll need to make sure that external links to your site are not in the “nofollow” format, as this essentially means the “SEO-juice” has been turned off. If in doubt, ask.
Ultimately, content is king
SEO strategies change with time. Once, it was enough for websites to post entire pages of gibberish with their keyword repeated over and over, for them to rank well.
Those days are long past. It’s commonly agreed that Google’s algorithm places a heavy degree of emphasis on quality content over abstract tricks. A phrase you might hear in the SEO community is “content is king.”
If you want to capitalize on the best SEO practices, you’ll have to pair them with consistently high-quality, useful, and well-produced content – largely in the form of coherent articles.