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What is SEO?

Our Digital Marketing Basics series explains all you need to know about common digital marketing concepts.

This week in our Digital Marketing Basics series, we’re going to venture into a topic that often confuses non digital marketers; SEO. It isn’t too complicated, but it can seem this way at first, especially because of all the elements that make up successful SEO practice. Not to worry though; you’ll have a solid understanding of it by the end of this post. So, what is SEO?

What is SEO?

Red Revolution offers a clear and concise explanation of what SEO is:

SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings.

In short, if used correctly, SEO allows your web pages to gain authority in online searches, and therefore rank on Google. This means more interaction with your content, and potentially more business.

However, there’s a little more to it than this. To gain authority and move up the search engine result pages (SERPs), your web pages need to be linked to by other web pages. If you have a number of good quality links from other web pages, then you are more likely to rank on Google. The more of these you have, the better the chance you have of moving up in SERPs.

What can you do to improve your SEO?

To help give you an overview of what goes into good SEO practice, we’ve collected a few ranking factors that we know influences Google’s algorithm.

  • Quality backlinks – the most crucial step in gaining authority.
  • Quality, relevant content – engage your users through content that adds value to your brand, as well as their lives.
  • Optimised page titles & meta descriptions – your keyword should be targeted in these crucial SEO elements. We’ve got specific tips on this towards the end of our post.
  • Keyword research – what keywords might someone use to find your site? e.g. ‘graphic design’, ‘illustration’
  • Good onsite UX (user experience) – make sure your site is easy to navigate, and a pleasure for your users to be on.
  • Proper use of H tags (header tags) – make sure headings are established and sized correctly.
  • Using long-tail key terms/phrases – the more specific someone’s search query is, the better chances you have for ranking for it. I.e. ‘Why does my small business need SEO?’
  • Long-form content – (2000+ words) – surprising, but this does very well online.
  • Original content (non syndicated) – you’ll gain authority by investing time in original content (i.e. created by you)
  • A range of different media being used – pictures, videos, GIFs, blog posts, etc.
  • Short, keyword-friendly URLs – make it easier for your users to find you.
  • Fresh and regular content – keep your users on their toes.
  • CTA – (calls-to-action) – Tell your users what you want them to do! e.g. ‘be sure to follow us on Twitter for more updates and tips’, and add a link to your relevant social media channels.

Bonus tips for SEO

Page titles should be 65 characters long with your keyword leading, and meta descriptions should be no longer than 155, including your keyword in the first sentence.

Social media  should be taken into account, as it now impacts your SEO. Make sure that all of your channels are active and ‘speaking’ to your website.

In the words of Glen Allsopp:

Build a site for people. Have you noticed how Wikipedia absolutely dominates Google search results? It is a resource that millions of people naturally want to use, and because of that, people talk about them.

This is a good quote to live by, especially if you are a small business looking to grow your reach and ranking. You should always tailor your content to what your target users want to see on your web pages, as they will see this as evidence that you are keeping them in mind.

Useful SEO resources for you to try out

  • Moz Blog – easy-to-understand content for those wanting to learn more about SEO, with a friendly and informal approach.
  • Whiteboard Fridays – regular, consistent content that is easy to digest
  • Moz’s guide to keyword research – incredibly useful and condensed guide to keyword research that completely inspires its audience to get out there and start researching.
  • SEMrush’s post on ignored SEO techniques – a fantastic narrative on different aspects of SEO, and easy-to-follow advice on how to surpass competitors and boost traffic.
  • Rand Fishkin on Twitter – an awesome individual who provides a great insight into marketing and startups.
  • Ann Smarty on Twitter – a great tweeter providing lots of invaluable info on SEO – a true expert in her field.
  • Britney Muller on Twitter – the Senior SEO Scientist at Moz. Her tweets and projects are unreal, and very interesting to read.
  • Search Engine Journal – a very interactive and multimedia resource that definitely has something for everyone (they have just about every form of social media channel in existence).

Get more tips & tricks on digital marketing

Come back to the Matchstick Creative blog for helpful content like this on the reg. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more handy tips on all things digital marketing.